Admittedly, the report came in an error-riddled "Editor's Note" published in today's paper. The unnamed editor defensively noted:
A report in the Metropolitan Diary column on Monday related a conversation that a contributor, Andrea Silenzi, said she had had with a neighbor on the Upper East Side. The neighbor's 5-year-old son had overheard his father, a stock trader, on the phone with a client, and had said to his mother, "I know Daddy sells things at his job, but why oh why did he say he would sell my shorts?"
An editor called Ms. Silenzi to verify the authenticity of that anecdote. a step in the editing process that all submissions undergo before being published. Ms. Silenzi said the incident had indeed happened as she described it.
After a Web log for a Jersey City radio station reported that the anecdote was part of a prank, The Times learned that Ms. Silenzi runs that blog, and that she had invited readers to fabricate an entry for the column. When questioned again, she admitted that she had lied to the editor.
Alas, the editor's note got a few things wrong. Andrea Silenzi does not in fact run this blog, she has nothing to do with WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Second, Andrea never invited readers on her own blog to fabricate entries for the column. (Andrea's Seven Second Delay blog is here.)
But all this pales when listening to Michael Pollak interviewed on Seven Second Delay last Wednesday night: download MP3. Mr. Pollak stated that Andrea felt she had struck "some great blow for coolness." He testily informed Andy and I (aged 50 and 48 respectively) that the New York Times is a "smorgasbord" which does not publish exclusively for "young trendies." He lauded the Web 2.0 nature of The Metropolitan Diary, a column with an audience of elderly people "who look on it as a kind of one bright spot in a week of otherwise gloomy news." He referenced the immense popularity of the column, a claim which is now at odds with Gawker's report that the Met Diary may now go the way of Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. When Andy and I played Mr. Pollak a recording of an actual five-year-old boy speaking the infamous phrase highlighted above, he implied that we had searched for the exact phrase we needed on the internet (singular), a claim reminiscent of his description of Andrea as "arrogant "because she had an extraordinarily high google hit count of four when he checked.
At least he didn't repeat his earlier vindictive reference to Andrea's application for a Fulbright scholarship.