This morning I received a request from New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski saying that I made a mistake in my column “The Donald, the Disabled and Equality.” It is important to re-publish his note in its entirety:
I hope this note finds you well.
I read your piece with interest. Unfortunately, there is a significant error in it that needs to be corrected.
You wrote that “reporter Kovaleski wrote a piece saying there were allegations of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11.”
The story clearly stated that the allegation had to do with “people” celebrating. Nowhere does the sentence in question mention “Muslims.”
This needs to be corrected for the record, promptly and in a prominent place.
Thank you and I look forward to meeting you one day.
Be well and best,
Serge F. Kovaleski
Culture & Arts Investigative Reporter
The New York Times
Serge is right. Facts do matter. I strive to get them exactly. My mistake entirely.
I will say in response that the entire issue that has unfolded since the original controversy over Serge’s article has unearthed a contemporaneous article in the New York Post which specifically refers to “the Arabs of nearby Paterson, N.J., celebrate as they received word of the murderous attacks in New York and Washington.” There has also been a WCBS-TV video clip unearthed in which reporter Pablo Guzman leads viewers through a report in which he says:
… There’s another apartment building (in Jersey City), one that an investigator told me, quote “is swarming with suspects.” Suspects whom I’m told were cheering on the roof when they saw the planes slam into the Trade Center.
Mr. Guzman began his report with a report of two Muslim men being arrested on an Amtrak train with investigators being led to their Jersey City apartment building. While he does not say specifically the “suspects” were Muslim, he certainly leads the viewer to that conclusion as he refers in his report to the fact that “the older investigators remembered that suspects who allegedly got convicted for the first Trade Center case — followers of Sheikh Rahman — lived in the building where the same eight men were celebrating the destruction that they saw from the roof.”
Other accounts have come forth from Dan Rather (on David Letterman’s show in 2001, here, which Rather reports while noting it is unconfirmed), then-New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
And on a personal note, I received a phone call the other day from a college friend, a woman who makes it clear she is not a Trump supporter. She is, however, from New Jersey — and she volunteered that yes, in the day, she too heard some variation of the story that there were Muslims celebrating in New Jersey.
At this point, while there may be a question as to numbers, there can be little doubt that in the day there were in fact reports of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the towers. The question that amazes is why, today, after all we have been through and learned in the last fourteen years — not to mention the horrific events in San Bernardino — anyone would be surprised at this. Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not. But that there are Muslims who are devoted to Jihad enough to act or at a minimum may be sympathetic to those who do act is an all too obvious truth.
So thanks to Serge for the correction. Happy to make it. And I wish Serge well — and so too the cause of equal treatment for all.