The New York Times declared on its website early Friday in a headline that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had warned to U.S. was on the "precipice of full-scale civil war." Their headline? "U.S. Envoy in Baghdad Says Iraq Is on Brink of Civil War."
Within an hour and without explanation, the Times yanked the headline in favor of "U.S. Envoy Says Sectarian Violence Threatens Iraq's Future."
Originally, their lead paragraph had read: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that the country was on the precipice of full-scale civil war, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
An hour later: "The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that sectarian violence this week had endangered the future of Iraq, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland."
Catherine Mathis, the New York Times Company's Vice President for Corporate Communications, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Later in the morning, the Times changed the story again to reflect the relative calm that cloaked Baghdad in the day after a rash of bombings: "As Violence Ebbs, U.S. Envoy Warns of Danger to Iraq's Future."
They still, however, offered no accounting for how Iraq went from the "precipice of civil war" to "endangered" based on the same remarks by a U.S. ambassador.