NYT was caught in 2011 calling an anonymous source (who turned out to be an intern) a 'senior official'
The anonymously written New York Times op-ed purporting to be written by a "senior official in the Trump administration" was artfully written to suggest that the author is Cabinet-level. Senator Elizabeth Warren seems to think so. The contention that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment" seem to be sort of thing that could come only from one of the whisperers, but of course, it easily could be third- or fourth-hand gossip overheard by a person many layers lower.
So what exactly are the standards that the Times applies when calling an anonymous person a "senior" official – when the story being spun fits the narrative the Times is pushing? Phelim McAleer, writing in Townhall, takes a trip down memory lane and reminds us of an incident in which the Times was caught exaggerating to a startling degree, in service to its agenda of demonizing fracking.
In a lengthy anti-fracking article they [the NYT] claimed that senior industry experts and insiders believed the industry to be little more than a "Ponzi scheme" ... "set up for failure".
They even had the emails from a series of senior insiders where these doubts were expressed.
According to the New York Times, one "energy analyst" wrote, "Am I just totally crazy, or does it seem like everyone and their mothers are endorsing shale gas without getting a really good understanding of the economics at the business level?"
Another "federal analyst" said in an industry email, "It seems that science is pointing in one direction and industry PR is pointing in another."
Here is the article in question.
[U]nfortunately for the New York Times, the emails were from the Energy Information Agency – a government organization – so this meant Senate investigators were able to find the original emails and work out the identity of all these different senior experts. It turns out the federal analyst, the energy analyst and the officer turned out to be the same person who was actually an intern when he wrote the first email and in an entry level position when he wrote the other comments. Yes, that's right, the "Paper of Record" misrepresented an intern/junior employee as a senior official to push an agenda.
It was bad enough that the Times had an internal conflict:
Was the New York Times embarrassed when their [sic] deception was uncovered? The Senate investigation did attract the attention of the New York Times Public Editor Arthur S Brisbane. "Can an intern be an 'official'? It doesn't sound right to me," he stated.
Well it sounded fine to the New York Times editorial board. They stood by their mislabeling of the intern/low level employees as a senior official.
As McAleer notes, the position of public editor has since been eliminated at the Times.
If and when the identity of the anonymous writer is uncovered, if the person involved turns out to be someone the public has never heard of – a deputy assistant undersecretary in the Department of Interior, for instance, if not an actual intern – the backlash will be intense.
This story has a way to go.