by Janet Whitman
New York Post
March 28, 2007

March 27, 2007 — The New York Times is suffering from two bouts of fresh humiliation after admitting to being duped by a woman claiming to be an Iraq veteran and publishing a critique of the $2,000 check a star reporter gave to a source for his expose on child Internet porn.

In a lengthy Editors’ Note printed over the weekend, the Times revealed that one of the servicewomen profiled in the cover story on female veterans of the Iraq war in last week’s New York Times Magazine never served in Iraq and may have made up her story.

On the same day, the Times’ Public Editor Barney Calame published a scathing rebuke of the $2,000 payment investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald sent to a teenage boy who became the focus of his article on sexual exploitation on the Web.

Calame wrote that Eichenwald misled editors about the money and added that his argument that he was acting as a private citizen is “baloney.” If the editors had known about the check, it wouldn’t have been OK to publish the article, even though it was repaid by the source, Calame wrote.

Eichenwald, who is now at the soon-to-launch Portfolio magazine, didn’t respond to a request for comment. An insider at Condé Nast’s Portfolio said Eichenwald’s article on terrorism won’t make it to the debut issue of the magazine, but not because of the imbroglio over the undisclosed payment.

Meanwhile, the Times said Amorita Randall, a formal naval construction worker, never served in Iraq, as the Sunday Times Magazine reported.

The servicewoman had told the Times she saw combat in Iraq in 2004 and suffered a brain injury when a Humvee she was riding in was blown up.

The Times said it learned after it published the article that Randall served in Guam and that the medal she received was due to a clerical error, not her heroic deeds in Iraq.

In the note published over the weekend, the Times said, “it is now clear that Ms. Randall did not serve in Iraq, but may have become convinced she did.”

The revelation came a little over a month after the Times poked holes in a celebrated Daily News series on a 9/11 hero who died of lung cancer.

In a front-page story in mid-February, the Times blew up the Daily News’ story on a New York City police officer who died of lung cancer – a series the News thought could lead to a Pulitzer Prize.

with Keith Kelly