The following letter was sent by United Auto Worker presidential candidate Will Lehman to Steven Greenhouse, the former New York Times reporter who moderated the presidential candidates debate on Thursday, September 22. The full video of the debate can be viewed at willforuawpresident.org/debate.
CC: UAW Monitor
Dear Mr. Greenhouse,
At the September 22 debate for UAW president, you asked me a question that was based on a false quotation, attributing to me a position that I do not hold. Because thousands of members of the UAW have already watched the video, I request that you record a public statement, that the Monitor can place prominently on the website that features the debate, informing viewers of your mistake and correcting the record by Monday, September 26.
Referencing an undated article from a web publication that you identified as the “Sasa Times,” you asserted that I called for the “complete abolition of trade unions.”
You did not ask me whether I said this. Rather, you asked me to respond to a quote, which you emphasized was an “exact quote,” that falsified my position. You repeated this falsified “exact quote” twice in your question.
In July, I did attend a meeting of international workers held by the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC). But what I actually said at this meeting was, “My campaign advances the call for the complete abolition of the union bureaucracy and putting power into the hands of the workers, who I urge to form rank-and-file committees.” My statements at the meeting were publicly reported—with the correct quote—on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) in a July 11, 2022 article.
Instead of going to a primary source, such as my program or my website, or the WSWS, which correctly quoted me, you went to what is clearly an entirely dubious publication, the “Sasa Times.” If one attempts to access the article posted on this site, one gets a warning that “your connection is not private” and that “attackers might be trying to steal your information.” The article itself is a semi-coherent, mangled reproduction of the WSWS article, to the point where parts of it are incomprehensible. It has, moreover, no byline.
A cursory investigation of the site reveals that it is not a legitimate news source. It has no Wikipedia page and is not cited in any other publication or resource. Its own “about” section makes clear it is not a reliable source: “One of the greatest things about Sasatimes.com is the interactive part of the site. You can create your own news stories by simply making up a basic story and adding in facts and comments about the subject.”
Mr. Greenhouse, you are an award-winning journalist who worked for the New York Times for 30 years. You are well aware of the standards of professional journalism, which require that you check your sources before attributing a quotation to an individual. You could have performed a basic Google search of my quotation to discover its original source in the WSWS. You presented the “Sasa Times” as a legitimate news source when you clearly knew or should have known that it was not.
You misquoted my position in the first question that was asked of me at the debate, putting me in a position of having to respond to something that I never said. In your introduction, you emphasized that you “decided on these questions.” You did not misattribute any quotes to any of the other candidates. This calls into question your statement that you would be “scrupulously neutral, as between the five candidates tonight, not taking sides or showing preferences” in the debate.
I therefore demand the following: 1) That you record a statement informing workers by Monday of your mistake and correcting the record; and 2) That this statement be posted publicly by the Monitor and sent out to all UAW members.