The New York Times

The Times published an article on December 25, 2008 about Golden West’s former CEOs, Herb and Marion Sandler, and the operations of World Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Golden West. Here is a link to the story. Since the story was published, the Times has taken the virtually unprecedented steps of issuing four corrections, canceling publication of a book that was scheduled to be released (which would have reprinted the article), and posting on their website a letter from the Sandlers and a letter from the Times to the Sandlers.

In a letter to the Sandlers, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller commented on the corrections, noting that had additional information been known they would have taken it into account in the original article. Here is the letter from Executive Editor Bill Keller at the Times acknowledging that the Sandlers were “recognized as the gold standard in [the banking] industry.”

The Sandlers wrote a letter to the Times on April 22, 2009 describing in detail how the article was deeply flawed, inaccurate and misleading. In particular, the letter notes that the Times made fundamental mistakes in the story, including: (1) failing to fairly represent that World Savings, as a portfolio lender that kept its loans on its books, did not engage in the high-volume risky lending practices of mortgage bankers who securitized and sold loans, and (2) overlooking that the adjustable rate mortgage used by World Savings for 25 years was fundamentally different and safer for consumers than the mortgage banker version of the Option ARM that others began to push around 2003 which has been the subject of much media and regulatory attention. All of this had been discussed in detail with the reporter. Here is the April 22 letter from the Sandlers to the Times identifying fundamental flaws and inaccuracies in the Times’ article about Golden West.

A story in the March/April 2010 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a respected publication affiliated with the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism with a mission to “encourage and stimulate excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Here is a link to CJR’s story calling into question the accuracy of reporting about Golden West, including the New York Times article.

There was additional correspondence with the Times, shown below:

•    December 30, 2008 letter to the Times

•    January 6, 2009 letter from the Times

•    January 6, 2009 letter to the Times

•    January 8, 2009 letter from the Times

•    January 12, 2009 letter to the Times

•    January 15, 2009 letter from the Times

•    January 20, 2009 letter to the Times