You have to feel for The New York Times. I mean, Apple leaked the 7-inch iPad information to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg over a week ago as orders for Google’s 7-inch tablet were opening up. Perhaps Apple was not pleased with the iEconomy series that The New York Times insisted on running.

Nevertheless, Apple’s PR machine has a message to get out (even turncoats MG Siegler and Walt Mossberg love the Nexus 7!), and, as Google’s Nexus 7 finally ship this week, it is The New York Times’ chance to “shine.”

Sadly, that is all the The New York Times got. Except it is saying…wait for it…

The company is developing a new tablet with a 7.85-inch screen that is likely to sell for significantly less than the latest $499 iPad, with its 9.7-inch display, according to several people with knowledge of the project who declined to be named discussing confidential plans. The product is expected to be announced this year.

Recap: The new smaller iPad will cost less than the $499 iPad third generation. The New York Times would not even go out on a limb and say it would cost less than the $399 iPad 2?

[Slow clap]

O.K., besides the snark, I like the Times and its writers. Plus, they did come up with something new:

But the first tablet prototype Apple began developing in the mid-2000s had a seven-inch screen, said a former engineer at the company who helped build the smaller prototype and declined to be named to avoid upsetting people at the company today. Mr. Jobs thought the device was too small and wondered aloud what it was good for “besides surfing the Web in the bathroom,” this person said

So, all that stuff Steve Jobs said about the 7-inch iPad was from a substantial amount of experience?