The New York Times is defending a story it published Wednesday evening that was critical of Department of Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry, despite claims that it was misleading.
"We stand by our story, which accurately reflected what multiple, high-level sources told our reporters," the newspaper told Politico.
The story, which carried the headline, "Learning Curve' as Rick Perry Pursues a Job He Initially Misunderstood," appeared to paint a poor picture of President-elect Donald Trump's choice to lead the energy department. The second paragraph suggested Perry "knew almost nothing about" the United States' nuclear arsenal.
The Department of Energy handles all things nuclear, including raw materials, power, and weapons.
Republican energy lobbyist Michael McKenna served as an adviser to Perry's 2016 presidential campaign and also worked briefly on Trump's transition team. He told the Times this, a quote that appeared in the fourth paragraph:
"If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, 'I want to be an advocate for energy.' If you asked him now, he'd say, 'I'm serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.' It's been a learning curve."
McKenna told The Daily Caller the Times misconstrued his words, which would make the Times' claim that Perry didn't know what he was getting into false.
The headline and lede "don't really reflect what I said," McKenna told The Daily Caller. He noted that "of course" Perry was familiar with the job before it was offered it to him.
The story also seems to mock Perry by first mentioning the current and previous energy secretaries, physicists Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu. The Times notes, "Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University."
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