The New York Times' public editor has called his colleague's much-maligned story on track star Lolo Jones "particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so."
Arthur Brisbane weighed in with a letter to readers published Thursday, following days of controversy over Jeré Longman's recent news column.
Longman's story on the American track star — who he accused of running a "sad and cynical marketing campaign" and capitalizing on her good looks — had drawn the ire of readers, the media and Jones herself, who tearfully responded to it on the "Today" show Wednesday.
In his response emailed to readers who complained, Brisbane pointed out that the piece was published as "a point-of-view piece and not straight news coverage" and said the sports desk was aware of the negative reaction to it.
He also admitted, however, that he found the piece "quite harsh" and left him "wondering why the tone was so strong."
Longman's story was excoriated after its publication, with The Daily Beast deeming it a "misguided, over-the-top, personal attack" and a Slate writer calling it "one of the nastiest profiles I've ever seen of an athlete."
"They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds," Jones told "Today" show anchor Savannah Guthrie, fighting back tears. "The fact that they just tore me apart... is heartbreaking."
Jones had been hoping for redemption on the 100m hurdles in London, four years after she finished seventh after clipping a hurdle despite being the favorite for gold. She came in fourth this week in the event, however.