Last Monday, the New York Times reported that Rudolph Giuliani had accused Mitt Romney of having a bad record on crime while governor of Massachusetts. “Violent crime and murder went up when he was governor,” Giuliani said of his Republican rival. The Times’ public editor, Clark Hoyt, says that “In time-honored journalistic fashion, the newspaper noted the Romney campaign's response: No, violent crime, which includes murder, actually went down during Romney's tenure.” Hoyt says the Times “let me down” in not saying who was correct.
It turns out that murder in Massachusetts did go up slightly in the four years Romney was governor, from 173 in 2002, the year before he took office, to 186 in 2006, the last full year of his term. Violent crime, a broader category made up of murder, rape, robbery and assault, went down in the Romney era, from 31,137 to 28,775. Giuliani was wrong on that score and the Romney campaign was right. Richard Stevenson, Times editor in charge of presidential campaign coverage, says, “We have a responsibility to sort out the conflicting charges and assertions and to give readers as close a sense as possible of who's right and who's wrong in these situations.”