The NY Times Joe Nocera is one of the worst business "journalists" in that business. Highly opinionated and dumb makes for a bad combination. So it warmed my heart to see the Times' public editor take Nocera to the woodshed for his egregious recent columns on St. Warren:
After a complaint from Mr. Buffett, which I was sent a copy of, corrections were appended to the columns, and published in print. (One correction, however, was left out. In his first column, Mr. Nocera referred to Mr. Buffett as a member of the Coca-Cola board; that hasn’t been true for eight years. That error was never formally corrected, although it gets a mention in the second column, in which, remarkably, Mr. Nocera uses his own original error to bash Mr. Buffett further: “He should be embarrassed. It’s actually worse than I had realized. My original assumption was that Buffett didn’t want to offend his fellow board members, especially those on the compensation committee, who had vouched for the equity plan. But Buffett left the board in 2006.”)
But there’s a much bigger problem. The entire premise of the second column is built on a mistake: that Mr. Buffett had changed his tone after “licking his wounds” over the reaction to statements he made on April 23, including Mr. Nocera’s criticism. As Mr. Nocera told it in the second column, after several days of this embarrassment passed, Mr. Buffett decided to “bite back” by going on the offensive in a Fortune interview on April 28.
But that “remarkable interview” with Fortune – the so-called biting back — actually took place the same day as the initial statements, not after five days of wound-licking.
I asked Mr. Nocera if he planned to write anything in his column about the errors; he said he thought the corrections were sufficient, since they did not gloss over the seriousness of the errors.
The question now is: What more would it take for Nocera to get fired?