Note: This is a letter I sent to New York Times Op-Ed Editor David Shipley regarding his comments to Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt (see post below) regarding the printing of the Op-Ed "Death by Veganism."
Dear Mr. Shipley,
I can't tell you how disappointed I have been in The New York Times' publishing of Nina Planck's "Death by Veganism" column on May 21, 2007, and the Times' reaction to complaints about the piece. I am also deeply troubled by your comments to Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, who brought some reader concerns about the column to your attention. You replied that the science is sound that infants need animal protein. What science exactly? You were merely speaking out of your rear end without actually having looked anything up. The only thing infants need is mother's milk. Anything other than that is inferior, animal or plant. Beside that point, let's trust the actual nutrition experts to comment on nutrition science. The American Dietetic Association states "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence." That is the consensus of the scientific community. Surely, the Times' Op-Ed page has some journalistic standards? Nina Planck did not cite one single source in her column. She did not quote a doctor or a nutrition scientist, nor did she refer to a scientific study. Planck also does not hold a nutrition degree. Why is someone being allowed to make declarative statements about a subject on the opinion page and being allowed to pass them off as being true? Does the Times bother to do any fact-checking? The Times has already published one correction on the column that Indian vegetarians don't normally eat eggs. That's a good start, but there are numerous items that need correction in the column. How about the absurd comment by Planck that babies are made of fish oil? I sent in an e-mail previously outlining all of the items that need correction. I also offered an Op-Ed reaction to Planck's piece. I attached both the Op-Ed offering and the letter concerning what items I believe deserve to be corrected. It would be helpful if the Times just retracted the column. As I wrote to Clark Hoyt, the Times wouldn’t just print anything on its Op-Ed page. Why would it allow the unsubstantiated remarks by Planck be printed? It’s equivalent to printing an Op-Ed piece detailing the superiority of the Aryan brain. After all, there is some Nazi science backing up the subject. Your reply to this e-mail would be greatly appreciated.
Andrew --- (a loyal New York Times subscriber)