WaPo and NYT forced to make ‘big retraction’ in reporting on Giuliani subpoena

In their efforts to castigate Rudy Giuliani in their reporting on the search warrant raids on his apartment and office, the Washington Post and New York Times put out what the social media censors like to call “harmful misinformation” (the sort of thing that justifies suspending their reporting when alleged against conservative outlets) so egregious that both have been forced to acknowledge their publication of falsehoods in formal retractions. It’s a big deal. Don’t take my word for it, Trump-hating CNN’s Oliver Darcy calls it a “big retraction.”

Kathianne Boniello reports for the New York Post:

The Times appended their correction to a story about the role Giuliani may have played in the 2019 recall of ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch and whether he received a warning from the FBI about Russian disinformation.

“An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing,” The Times wrote Saturday in a note attached to the piece.

The Washington Post’s correction, on a story about prominent Americans being targeted by Russian disinformation, was similar.

“An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation,” the paper said.

“That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.”

Trump-hating NBC News also had to correct its reporting:

NBC News also issued a mea culpa, claiming its reporting was based on a source but that a second source “now says the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him, in part over concerns it might complicate the criminal investigation of Giuliani. As a result, the premise and headline of the article below have been changed to reflect the corrected information.”

Friday’s front page of the Washington Post reveals how prominently the paper hyped the false allegation of Giuliani’s “warning”:

Image via UK Daily Mail

Caleb Howe of Mediaite explains why it is such a big deal, using the WaPo article:

It’s a bit farther down in the article where you find what justifies those characterizations. It’s the “despite.”

“Despite the alert, Giuliani went forward in December 2019 with a planned trip to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, where he met with a Ukrainian lawmaker who the U.S. government later labeled ‘an active Russian agent’ and sanctioned on grounds he was running an ‘influence campaign’ against Biden,” the original version said.

Instead of tossing aside a caution, as the story alleges, Giuliani’s trip was not heedless and done against the advice of officials. A big difference, indeed.

In her column today, written before the retractions were public, Clarice Feldman sagely warned of the WaPo’s history of serving as an instrument for politicized federal agencies hiding behind anonymity:

The first account I read was in the Washington Post, where Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, and Tom Hamburger clearly megaphoned  the FBI story in an account which suggests we are seeing the phony baloney Russian Collusion tale being repeated with the same sort of willing collusion by the press, a role long played by Nakashima. 

According to this account “several current and former U.S. officials” said that FBI counterintelligence agents warned Giuliani and OAN that they were being “manipulated by the Russian government to promote its interests and that [Giuliani] appears to have brazenly disregarded such fears.” 

Halt! If the revelation had to be made anonymously “because the matter remains highly sensitive,” weren’t these people sharing this information in violation of their obligations and if so, weren’t they inherently untrustworthy?

All the more untrustworthy because they peddled false information.

When a source demanding anonymity misleads reporters, the promise to protect that anonymity is voided. Journalistic ethics (don’t laugh!) permit such liars to be exposed.

Rudy Giuliani is demanding that the liars be unmasked:

Shamefully, the New York Times at first tried to evade acknowledgment of its publication of harmful misinformation (where are the suspensions, Twitter and Facebook?) with a stealth correction, called out by CNN’s Darcy:

Once their underhandedness was exposed, the Times fessed up:

I don’t know if the leaks about an FBI investigation, even false leaks, are criminal in nature, but they certainly must have violated FBI policy and merit punishment. The miscreants deserve to be outed and pursued for their infractions.

Meanwhile, the media will continue to cast aspersions, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York will continue to dig for dirt on Rudy, most likely in order to compel disclosure of information that might be used to pursue Donald Trump.

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