As Glenn Greenwald of Salon quickly pointed out (and as other writers echoed), the article wrongly suggested that John Tyner, the libertarian citizen-activist who coined the "don't touch my junk" protest against the TSA's security procedures, might be linked to an Astroturf operation. Ames' and Levine's article didn't directly call Tyner a plant, and they didn't say that he was funded by the Koch brothers. Nonetheless, their article gave that impression--by placing Tyner in the article's lead and by using a generally disparaging tone to refer to him. The article also used innuendo to cast doubt on Tyner's motives, and when Tyner denied any connections to lobbyists and to Koch-funded organizations in an interview, we printed his denial--but we didn't press hard enough to get clarity on his actions and intentions. We should have stopped and done just that, and if Tyner's story checked out, we should have removed him from the piece.
We have published a reply by Ames and Levine that acknowledges some of these problems, but as editor of The Nation, I also want to apologize to John Tyner. The Nation hasn't been--and never will be--in the business of muffling citizen protest.
We are, however, committed to bold reporting and to airing intelligent debates even--or especially--when they challenge our preconceptions and make our readers uncomfortable.