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Friday, January 20, 2017

The New York Times Admonishes Itself

A little late, guys:

I have spoken privately with several journalists involved in the reporting last fall, and I believe a strong case can be made that The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had.
I appreciate the majority view that there wasn’t enough proof of a link between Trump and the Kremlin to write a hard-hitting story. But The Times knew several critical facts: the F.B.I. had a significant and sophisticated investigation underway on Trump, possibly including FISA warrants. (Some news outlets now report that the F.B.I. did indeed have such warrants, an indication of probable cause.) Investigators had identified a mysterious communication channel.
At one point, the F.B.I. was so serious about its investigation into the server that it asked The Times to delay publication. Meanwhile, reporters had met with a former British intelligence officer who was building the dossier. While his findings were difficult to confirm, Times reporting bore out that he was respected in his craft. And of his material that was checkable, no significant red flags emerged. What’s more, said one journalist frustrated with the process, a covert link seemed like a plausible explanation for the strange bromance between Trump and Putin.
There were disagreements about whether to hold back. There was even an actual draft of a story. But it never saw daylight. The deciding vote was Baquet’s, who was adamant, then and now, that they made the right call.
“We heard about the back-channel communications between the Russians and Trump,” he said. “We reported it, and found no evidence that it was true. We wrote everything we knew — and we wrote a lot. Anybody that thinks we sat on stuff is outrageous. It’s just false.”

They did this:


I don't know how they can ever make up for this. Liz Spayd is totally right, but their behavior is going to have to change drastically before I even consider subscribing.

I'll say it again -- I'd like organizations like Talking Points Memo, who don't make egregious, world-threatening errors on a regular basis themselves, become the new mainstream.

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