New York Times Editor Says Paper Wasn’t ‘Rigorous Enough’ in Checking Giuliani Sources

New York Times Editor Says Paper Wasn’t ‘Rigorous Enough’ in Checking Giuliani Sources
Traffic drives past The New York Times building in New York City on Oct. 1, 2014. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

A New York Times editor has admitted that the paper was not “rigorous enough” when it cited now disproven anonymous sources for a story that incorrectly represented former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s contact with the FBI.

The New York Times was one of the three media outlets that published the erroneous claim that Giuliani was briefed by the FBI that he was targeted by a Russian intelligence influence operation during the time when he was investigating incriminating information about the Biden family. The other two outlets were the Washington Post and NBC News.

Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, told The Washington Post on Monday that the New York Times’ reporters failed to rigorously verify the information given by their anonymous sources.

“I think we all tend to drop our guard when we get beat and are trying to catch up. We need to grill sources more to make sure we understand exactly what they’re confirming. We’ve all discussed it, corrected it, and we need to do better. Dealing with anonymous sources in law enforcement and intelligence is always hard,” he said.

The paper had reported the erroneous claim in a story about Giuliani’s alleged role in the 2019 recall of ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch. It subsequently issued a correction that stated: “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.”

Similarly, the Washington Post, which was the first to report the incorrect information, also retracted the earlier reporting, saying in its correction: “This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.”

Meanwhile, NBC News elaborated on why it corrected the story, saying that a second source disputed the assertions of the first source as the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him. Both sources were anonymously cited in the article.

“The report was based on a source familiar with the matter, but 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,” the NBC News correction reads.

The Epoch Times had previously emailed the three outlets questions about their sources and reporting methods but has not received any responses.

The stories came after federal investigators executed a search warrant at the home and office of the former New York mayor. The searches were allegedly linked to Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, while Giuliani said he believes the search warrant was issued because he allegedly failed to file with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for representing a Ukrainian national or office. He has since denied any wrongdoing.

In two statements on Twitter, Giuliani called for the Post and NY Times to reveal their sources for the incorrect information.

“Where did the original false information come from?” he wrote in a tweet. “I couldn’t quite hear your apology?”

Although the three outlets had issued corrections on their stories, the misinformation continues to be spread on social media as the outlets and some of their reporters have not yet corrected the false information on their accounts.

In one example, NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian failed to alert his approximately 207,000 followers on Twitter that his story about Giuliani and the FBI was corrected. Neither has NBC Investigations.

Dilanian had also retweeted a tweet from “Meet the Press” that denigrated Giuliani for allegedly being briefed by the FBI but dismissing the warning, a review of his Twitter page by The Epoch Times on May 5 shows.
However, the NBC main account added a correction to its original post of the story; it reposted the correction it made to the article itself, alerting readers to the crucial change.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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