New York Times Adds Large Correction to Front-Page Story on Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt / Getty Images
June 18, 2018

The New York Times over the weekend issued a lengthy correction to a front-page story on Environmental Protection Agency officials claiming that Scott Pruitt, the EPA's administrator, used his position to solicit favors to admit that one of the incidents cited did not actually happen while he was with the agency.

In a Saturday piece, the Times reported that, "For Pruitt Aides, the Boss's Personal Life Was Part of the Job," citing several anecdotes in which Pruitt is accused of using aides for personal business and having "no hesitation in leveraging his stature as a cabinet member to solicit favors himself."

"As an example, Mr. Pruitt, shortly after taking the EPA job, reached out to the former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates seeking help for his daughter, McKenna, in securing admission to the University of Virginia School of Law," the paper initially reported. "William Howell, the former speaker, appears on Mr. Pruitt's official EPA calendar, and he confirmed in an interview that he was approached by Mr. Pruitt and subsequently wrote a letter to the school's dean on the daughter's behalf."

"Mr. Howell said he doubted his letter tipped the scales for Ms. Pruitt," the story continued. "A spokesman for Mr. Pruitt said that he and Mr. Howell had known each other for two decades and that 'letters of recommendation are normal process for an application to law school.'"

But in a massive, nearly two-hundred-word correction added to the digital version later on Saturday and published in print Monday, the Times removed that excerpt and revealed that its staff had discovered that incident happened before Pruitt joined the EPA and was still the attorney general of Oklahoma.

"After publication of the article, additional research by a legislative aide, Mr. Howell said, showed he had incorrectly stated the date of the letter, which he said was actually written on Nov. 1, 2016, more than three months before Mr. Pruitt was confirmed as EPA administrator, in February 2017," the Times wrote.

In addition, Pruitt's daughter gave her permission to the University of Virginia to reveal that she was offered early admission by the university in late November 2016, before her father was offered the top EPA job.

Other allegations remain in the Times piece, including the claim that Pruitt used his connections with the energy industry to obtain tickets to the Rose Bowl to watch his Oklahoma Sooners lose to the Georgia Bulldogs.