Maureen Dowd screwed up, but so did Bill de Blasio's wife, Chilane McCray.  [photo from Bill de Blasio campaign site]

Maureen Dowd screwed up, but so did Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chilane McCray.
[photo of Chirlane McCray from Bill de Blasio campaign site]

ANY WRITER can make mistakes, it happens, but Maureen Dowd makes a career of it. This time she’s been caught manufacturing misquoting a candidate’s wife in a way that seems to purposefully fit a scenario running through her own head about Christine Quinn.

What Maureen Dowd wrote happens to be her impression of Bill de Blasio’s wife’s actual statement, which is stunning, but it shouldn’t get Chirlane McCray off the hook. However, all day Wednesday the story was Maureen Dowd, which Bill de Blasio can only hope continues.

This is what Maureen Dowd wrote Chirlane McCray, Bill de Blasio’s wife, said about Christine Quinn, who is gay, when she was asked about Quinn’s challenge appealing to women:

She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.

That’s not what Mrs. McCray said. In fact, it wasn’t even in the same library section. What McCray actually said:

Well, I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace; she is not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that, I feel, that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things. And I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling.

Now, I think McCray’s statement is appalling, frankly. For Maureen Dowd, however, her misquote came when she let herself go down interpretation highway, because I don’t believe this had anything to do with her tape recorder, which is the lamest excuse in the book.

The outcome was that it gave Christine Quinn the morning news cycle to bash her opponent. It’s hard to blame Quinn for being pissed off, even after the quote was corrected. Bill de Blasio’s wife was making obvious inferences that amount to character assassination, which are obvious even in the corrected quote.

Maureen Dowd told Politico “I screwed up. The coffee shop was so noisy, my tape recorder didn’t pick up everything. I thought I had that one quote from her in my notes, but I garbled the end with a bit from her previous sentence.”

Oh, and Ms. Dowd added, “I am going to buy some kind of noise-cancelling microphone for my recorder.”

Rubbish, she wrote what she interpreted Bill de Blasio’s wife as saying and got caught doing it. Cleaning it up, however, doesn’t help Chirlane McCray or Bill de Blasio. But will it matter?

The correction to Maureen Dowd’s column is an embarrassing whopper and is below.

Correction: August 21, 2013

Maureen Dowd’s column on Wednesday misquoted the response of Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, to a question about the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, who like Mr. de Blasio is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Ms. McCray said: “Well, I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues that I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace “” she’s not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing that I’m feeling.”

Ms. McCray did not say: “She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.”

In addition, the column misstated the place where the interview occurred. It was the Good Stuff Diner, not the Good Times coffee shop, in Greenwich Village.