This is all just a big misunderstanding, the NYT’s standards editor assures us that claims they’re using the term to push an agenda is “simply ridiculous.”

Why did New York Times call George Zimmerman ‘white Hispanic’ — WaPo

. . . Here’s an example of what Goldberg and Goldberg are citing: “Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic, told the police that he shot Trayvon in self-defense after an altercation.” That line comes from a March 22 New York Times news story about a development in the case.

The formulation is indeed an eyebrow-lifter. How often does such a term get tossed about? A Nexis search of the New York Times for “white Hispanic” over the past five years turns up 112 results. Yet that number is deceptively large.

A great deal of the language turns up looking like the following (from a March 2007 story on crime in Denver):

Once hailed as the Harlem of the West for its jazz scene, the historic black business enclave and its surroundings have given way to an influx of professionals, most of them white, and Hispanic immigrants.

Or the following (from a March 2008 story on the Democratic presidential primary):

Clinton advisers said her decisive victory in Ohio and her narrow one in Texas — where exit polls showed her winning the votes of women, whites and Hispanics in an extremely close race . . .

Or the following (from a November 2008 story on gang assaults):

They also said that the defendants were not racist and pointed to the young men’s friends, black, white and Hispanic, filling the courtroom seats.

A January 2011 New York Times story on demographics does use the term “white Hispanic,” but not in the main text of the story. This sentence comes from a graphics box or caption: “For Asians and white Hispanics, the rates of intermarriage have remained static or decreased since 1980.”

And a piece from February 2011 carries this line: “And reclassifying large numbers of white Hispanic students as simply Hispanic has the potential to mask the difference between minority and white students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates — the so-called achievement gap, a target of federal reform efforts that has plagued schools for decades.”

Q.E.D.: Use of the term in the New York Times archives is rare. Phil Corbett, the paper’s standards editor, concedes that “white Hispanic” and “white and Hispanic” are “not very commonly used.” […]

And as for the bigger-picture conspiracies alleged by Goldberg and Goldberg? “To suggest that our coverage of this story or our description of Mr. Zimmerman is intended to serve an agenda or push a political view is simply ridiculous. It’s just false,” responds Corbett.