Why it is important that Tom Friedman post a correction

(Regular readers know what this is about. If you’re new to the party, you might want to go read this).

As a reader suggested, Friedman probably feels justified in not correcting his t-shirt anecdote because he’s simply relaying what someone else heard. If I write, “A man on the street told me that Tom Friedman’s columns are written by a team of trained monkeys,” then the only factual assertion is that this is what some guy on the street told me, and I guess I have no obligation to set the record straight. Even if it is repeatedly pointed out to me that Tom Friedman actually does write his own columns, and doesn’t even own a single trained monkey.

But do I owe my readers a correction when the demonstrably false anecdote I have broadcast becomes a widely-accepted urban legend?

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Grubba had heard about the guy in a similar predicament who sold a T-shirt that said, “I lost my job to India and all I got was this (lousy) T-shirt.” The man reportedly made oodles of money.

Ironically, the story is about some workers whose jobs were offshored, who came up with the gimmick of selling themselves on eBay. Probably not the sort of triumphalist anecdote Friedman is likely to use.

At any rate, I really think Friedman needs to set the record straight on this one.

UPDATE: Rick Perlstein has an article on outsourcing in the Village Voice, which mentions the whole Friedman/t-shirt thing.