Fox News' dishonest campaign against Planned Parenthood took a new turn when the network promoted its own deeply misleading "Taxpayer Calculator" purporting to show how much an average American taxpayer has contributed to the health care provider over the past decade.
On the July 27 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom and Happening Now, correspondent Shannon Bream continued her network's smear campaign against Planned Parenthood Federation of America centered around a deceptively-edited video alleging to show PPFA employees negotiating the sale of "fetal body parts for medical research." Bream promoted the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) to strip federal funding for the organization before referring viewers to a so-called "Taxpayer Calculator" created by the network to show people how much they have contributed to Planned Parenthood over the past decade. From America's Newsroom:
BREAM: Over the past 10 years, it's estimated Planned Parenthood has received more than $4 million [sic] in federal and state government funding. Here's a look at what you, the taxpayer, have contributed based on your income level. Now, if you want a more specific estimate on just how much you've given to Planned Parenthood, head to FoxNews.com and click on "Taxpayer Calculator." Martha.
MACCALLUM: That's going to get a lot of people's attention.
BREAM: It will.
First, and perhaps most egregiously, the on-screen graphic Fox shows during both segments falsely claims that Planned Parenthood received $4.3 billion-worth of federal funding "over 10 years." According to the "Taxpayer Calculator" Bream referenced during the segment, Fox News does not actually know how much public support comes from either federal or state sources (emphasis added):
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have received $4.3 billion in government funding over the last ten years, according to the group's annual reports. Their government funding comes from both federal and state governments. We do not know exactly how much of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from the federal government.
According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report, the organization received $528.4 million from "Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements," which amounted to just over 46 percent of its operational revenue as of June 30, 2014. Some of this funding came in the form of federal Medicaid reimbursements for health care services for low-income Americans, while other funds came from various local, state, and federal grants -- the Hyde Amendment "excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid."
After incorrectly assuming that all public money received by Planned Parenthood comes from the federal government, Fox News staff then based their taxpayer contribution calculations on the proportion of federal tax revenue derived from different income tax brackets. Federal income tax rates are higher than state and local income tax rates. In fact, seven states levy no income taxes at all while two others tax only capital gains and dividends, not traditional wages. Fox's sloppily constructed "average taxpayer share" does not reflect reality -- it's simply the highest estimate the network's research team could produce.
Finally, Fox's investigation of Planned Parenthood's revenue and the American taxpayer's contribution to that revenue provides no useful context for the viewer. In 2014, the federal government spent nearly 900 times more than Planned Parenthood collected from all government sources in 10 years; the $4.3 billion price tag Fox highlighted represents a miniscule portion of total government spending over the same period. Likewise, the 10-year burden shouldered by Fox's "average taxpayer" represents a tiny fraction of their total income over that period. According to Fox News, a taxpayer with earnings in excess of $2.5 million over a decade would contribute only about $40 annually. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer, with a median household income of roughly $52,000 per year, would contribute only about $1.50 per year to Planned Parenthood, according to Fox's own calculations.
The deceptive "Taxpayer Calculator" is a continuation of Fox News' long campaign of deceit against Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the work performed by the organization (97 percent) is not related to abortion services. Fox has demonstrated on many occasions that it has no clue what Planned Parenthood does or the vital services it provides for millions of men and women every year; including cancer screening and preventative treatment, contraceptive services, family planning, STI/STD screening, and assorted other women's health services.
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column examining the problems with the Times' error-riddled story about Hillary Clinton's emails. Sullivan strongly criticized the paper for running a "sensational" story before it was ready and for not being transparent with readers about revising it.
On July 23, the Times published a story by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo claiming that two federal inspectors general had requested a "criminal" referral about whether Clinton had sent classified information via a personal email server. Over the next few days, the paper revised the story numerous times, pulling back on several of its main allegations. In the most recent version of the story, the criminal allegation has been removed, as has the impression that Clinton herself was personally under a probe.
In her column, Sullivan says the paper's handling of the story was "to put it mildly, a mess." Citing the major allegations in the first version of the story, Sullivan notes that "you can't put stories like this back in the bottle - they ripple through the entire news system." At least one presidential candidate has echoed the incorrect statements in the Times story.
After speaking to reporters and editors at the Times who worked on the story, Sullivan concludes, "There are at least two major journalistic problems here, in my view. Competitive pressure and the desire for a scoop led to too much speed and not enough caution."
She says the Times should have chosen to report "a less sensational version of the story" without a headline including the word "criminal," or waited "until the next day to publish anything at all." She adds, "Losing the story to another news outlet would have been a far, far better outcome than publishing an unfair story and damaging The Times's reputation for accuracy."
Sullivan also takes the Times' lethargic and opaque corrections to task, noting, "Just revising the story, and figuring out the corrections later, doesn't cut it," and that the changes to the paper's inaccurate reporting "were handled as they came along, with little explanation to readers."
According to Sullivan, the paper should have a discussion not only about increasing transparency, but also about its use of anonymous sources, "Mr. Baquet and Mr. Purdy said that would happen, especially on the issue of transparency to readers. In my view, that discussion must also include the rampant use of anonymous sources, and the need to slow down and employ what might seem an excess of caution before publishing a political blockbuster based on shadowy sources."
The column concludes, "When things do go wrong, readers deserve a thorough, immediate explanation from the top. None of that happened here."
This is not the first time Sullivan has pointed out problems with the paper's Clinton coverage. She previously took note of "the oddly barbed tone" of some of its Clinton pieces.
Yet despite the trouble generated by rushing for the scoop on another Clinton story, executive editor Dean Baquet seems reluctant to fault the story's editors and reporters. Discussing the error over "criminal," Baquet reportedly told Sullivan, "you had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral," adding, "I'm not sure what they could have done differently on that."
As Washington Post writer Erik Wemple points out, Baquet's comment is effectively "an exoneration of New York Times staffers for perpetrating what can be described only as a gargantuan mistake."
"What the hell is happening at the New York Times?" --Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald
It's been four days since the New York Times uncorked perhaps the biggest newsroom blunder of the 2016 campaign season, when Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo erroneously reported that two inspectors general were seeking a criminal probe of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. The Times' would-be blockbuster landed online on July 23 and on the front page of the print edition July 24.
But even before many readers picked up the paper on Friday morning, the story had begun to unravel. By Friday afternoon the Times' exclusive had suddenly morphed into a humiliation for the Times itself. The paper was widely ridiculed for getting the referral story wrong, and then for awkwardly trying to limit the damage via stealthy online edits.
Almost four days after its initial publication, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan weighed in on the "mess" this morning, suggesting that the paper should have waited to publish until it had developed the story more extensively: "Losing the story to another news outlet would have been a far, far better outcome than publishing an unfair story and damaging The Times's reputation for accuracy."
Meanwhile, executive editor Dean Baquet pinned much of the blame for the debacle on the Times' sources -- rather than the reporters and editors involved -- suggesting that this might not be the last mistake of this nature we see from the paper: "You had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral ... I'm not sure what they could have done differently on that."
If you were surprised by the Times' face-plant, then you haven't been paying attention. Media Matters has been chronicling the Times' problematic Clinton coverage in recent months. (And for years.) Yet it wasn't until the email fiasco that he paper's ongoing Clinton troubles exploded into full view, prompting condemnations as journalists and commentators not only questioned the Times' competence, but also its fairness.
Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen:
There's also no getting around the fact that the Times coverage of Hillary Clinton is a biased train wreck.
Vanity Fair contributing editor and Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald:
I worked at NYT for 20 yrs. I know what standards are supposed to be. The Hillary/email story violated all of them.
New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen:
I have resisted this conclusion over the years, but after today's events it's fair to say the Times has a problem covering Hillary Clinton.
The unsettling question the Times now faces as it grapples with the fallout from the email debacle is whether or not the newspaper can be trusted to be an honest player when covering Clinton. It's an extraordinary position for the Newspaper of Record to be in. But the Times has been feeding this credibility crisis for a very long time.
The Cliff's Notes to this conflict: With the bogus pursuits of Whitewater, the Loral spy satellites story, would-be spy Wen Ho Lee, and many more, the Times uncorked supposedly blockbuster allegations against Bill Clinton during the 1990s that were based on vague reporting that later turned out to be flimsy. The stories imploded, but not before Republicans grabbed onto the "liberal" New York Times gotchas and launched investigation after investigation. Fast-forward two decades and the same newsroom dysfunction persists.
Let's be clear: The Times is hardly alone in terms of having trouble reporting factually on the Clinton email story. Beltway journalists have strained for months trying to turn what is largely a process story into a simmering scandal. (See here.)
But the Times remains the country's most influential news outlet and the daily has been carrying around an unmistakable Clinton grudge for nearly twenty years. And it's a collective disdain for the Clintons that stretches from the opinion pages to the newsroom that arguably leads to spectacular blunders like the one we saw last week.
There seems to be a world view within the Times that taking cheap shots at the Clintons is not only allowed, it's preferred; it's a way for Times journalists to raise their profiles and generate buzz. But not only is the practice unfair and unethical, it carries with it profound political implications.
Apparently making no effort to check with the lead Democrat on the panel about the anonymous claims of a criminal referral -- Rep. Elijah Cummings would have demolished the entire premise of the gotcha story -- the Times essentially acted as stenographer for sources who either manufactured the claim about a criminal referral or unknowingly botched the facts.
The Times' oddly personal crusade against Hillary Clinton is also a crusade against the Democratic frontrunner for president, so the Republican Party benefits. The stakes really could not be higher, which makes the Times' behavior all the more disturbing.
Back in May, Margaret Sullivan noted her objections to the paper's "oddly barbed tone" in some of its Clinton coverage. (That was putting it mildly.) At the time, readers were upset with a nasty, condescending news article by Jason Horowitz that referred to Clinton as a standoffish "regal" "freak." Additionally, in his tweet promoting the article, the Times reporter mocked the Democrat as "Queen Hillary."
But when Sullivan asked Times political editor Carolyn Ryan about the complaints, Ryan absolved the Times of blame by arguing Times readers had simply "misread" the Horowitz piece. And that has been the Times pattern for years -- impenetrable denial that the paper had jumped the rails while covering Bill and Hillary Clinton. The result of that institutional denial? Last week's fiasco.
More from former Timesman Kurt Eichenwald and his bone-rattling denunciation of the paper's recent blunder:
Democracy is not a game. It is not a means of getting our names on the front page or setting the world abuzz about our latest scoop. It is about providing information so that an electorate can make decisions based on reality. It is about being fair and being accurate. This despicable Times story was neither.
Election Day is 400-plus days away. Can the New York Times' Clinton coverage be salvaged, or is the paper no longer an honest player?
Former MSNBC employee Pat Buchanan used an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press to frame immigration as a "massive invasion" and "conquest of the West" by "third-world ... border jumpers." During the appearance, host Chuck Todd did not mention Buchanan's past history of racist comments, or that NBC's cable channel MSNBC parted ways with Buchanan in 2012.
After Meet the Press announced that Buchanan would be a guest on Sunday's show, Todd told Media Matters that Buchanan was invited on to compare Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign to his own 1990s-era presidential runs.
On the July 26 edition of the show, Todd introduced Buchanan only as a former Republican presidential candidate. On-air text also mentioned Buchanan's former work as communications director at the White House during the Reagan administration.
After Todd asked whether Trump is conducting a campaign similar to Buchanan's past runs for the presidency, Buchanan said that there was a "similarity" in how Trump discusses immigration, and went on to describe "what people feel" is a "massive invasion" of "refugees, and border jumpers" (emphasis added):
TODD: Pat, when you see Trump, and what he's doing to the field, regardless of your views personally about him, and I know the two of you have had your own encounters in the past -- similar to what you rode in '92?
BUCHANAN: There is great similarity in the sense -- Trump's strength is the precise opposite of the distance of the Republican base from the Republican leadership in the country. He's exposing that and he's hitting two of the really strong populist issues. One of them, there's overlap with Bernie Sanders, and that's the trade issue, the export of American jobs and factories, and what's happening to the American middle class.
But the other one Trump is hitting, which is one of the hottest issues in the whole West, as well as the United States, is the massive invasion, if you will, of what people feel is the conquest of the West by massive third-world immigrations, coming from refugees, and border jumpers, and all the rest of them. He's wired into both of these and they're enormously popular issues.
These comments echoed ones Buchanan has made before. In his 2006 book State of Emergency, for example, he wrote of immigration: "This is an invasion, the greatest invasion in history," and "We are witnessing how nations perish."
Buchanan's anti-immigration rhetoric contributed to his early 2012 departure from MSNBC. Buchanan was suspended and then dropped from the channel specifically because of his book Suicide of a Superpower, which claimed to document how diversity and immigration are ruining the country, and featured chapters titles such as "The End Of White America."
But Todd passed on the opportunity to explain to viewers Buchanan's past with the network and his lengthy history of bigoted comments about immigrants.
This morning, the New York Times issued a second substantial correction to its anonymously-sourced report that originally hyped a potential Department of Justice investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of personal email. The paper has now removed the claim -- which appeared in both the article's headline and first sentence -- that two inspectors general were seeking a "criminal" investigation into the handling of Clinton's emails.
The paper has not addressed numerous lingering questions about both the sourcing and vetting of its report, with their corrections instead blaming the errors on "information from senior government officials" who remain anonymous. Times public editor Margaret Sullivan indicated on Twitter that she plans to weigh in on the story on Monday.
A comparison of the opening sentence of the July 23 article as originally published and how it currently appears on the Times website underscores the deeply flawed nature of the paper's report. In less than 48 hours, the article went from alleging a request for a "criminal investigation" of Clinton herself to "an investigation" into whether information had been mishandled in connection with her email account.
Here's the story's original opening, which appeared under the headline "Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use of Email":
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.
And here's how it currently appears, as of 2:30 p.m. EST on July 25:
Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.
The changes to the Times' original story have come as their reporting has unraveled.
Shortly after publication, the paper walked back the allegation that Clinton herself would be the target of the supposed criminal probe. While the Times made these changes without issuing a formal correction -- a spokesperson originally claimed it was unnecessary because there was no "factual error" -- it reversed course several hours later and appended a correction to its piece, explaining that the referral in question "did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton."
But the Times hadn't only botched the target of the inquiry, it misstated its nature as well. Yesterday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member of the Benghazi Select Committee, released a statement saying that he had personally spoken with the State Department Inspector General and the Intelligence Community Inspector General and "both confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage. Instead, they said this was a 'routine' referral, and they have no idea how the New York Times got this so wrong."
Additionally, a Justice Department official reportedly said yesterday -- apparently contradicting earlier statements from the DOJ -- that the referral over the emails was not "criminal."
During an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball, Rep. Cummings called out the Times for still labeling the investigation "criminal" in its headline despite evidence to the contrary. This morning, the paper revised the article once again to remove references to a criminal investigation and added a second correction to the bottom of its piece:
In addition, government officials who initially said the request was for a criminal investigation later said it was not a "criminal referral" but a "security referral" pertaining to possible mishandling of classified information.
As Media Matters laid out yesterday, there are several significant questions about the Times' handling of the story, which originally levied the bombshell allegation that a criminal investigation had been sought into a leading candidate for the presidency based on anonymous sourcing. Those questions include the sources for the paper's faulty information, whether the Times saw or attempted to see the referral document itself, whether the paper reached out to Cummings or any other Democrats on the Benghazi committee, and whether it contacted the inspectors general before publication.
In a statement, Cummings highlighted the report's sourcing, calling the Times story "the latest example in a series of inaccurate leaks to generate false front-page headlines -- only to be corrected later -- and they have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi or protecting our diplomatic corps overseas." Media have frequently been forced to walk back their initially flawed reports on Clinton's emails.
NBC's Meet the Press this weekend will host Pat Buchanan, a homophobic and racist commentator. MSNBC parted ways with Buchanan in 2012 following blowback over his book Suicide of a Superpower, which claimed to document how diversity and immigration are ruining the country.
The Sunday show states on its website that it will interview Buchanan about "the return of populism" on the presidential campaign trail. Buchanan's brand of "populism" has long included bigotry against minorities, immigrants, and LGBT people during his career as a political candidate and commentator.
Buchanan has repeatedly defended Adolf Hitler and once labeled him "an individual of great courage." He claimed "in a way, both sides were right" during the Civil War. He declined to disavow the idea that minorities have inferior genes. He defended a school's ban on interracial dating. He opined that "this has been a country built, basically, by white folks" and falsely claimed only "white males" died at Gettysburg and Normandy. He once claimed "conservatives are the niggers of the Nixon administration" and urged President Nixon not to visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow because King was "one of the most divisive men in contemporary history."
On immigrants, Buchanan claimed America is "committing suicide" while "Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate." He complained that immigration will turn the U.S. into "a polyglot boarding house for the world, a tangle of squabbling minorities." He objected to states like California having a majority Hispanic population. He said of Mexican immigrants: "They are militant, and they have no interest, many of them, in becoming American."
Buchanan repeatedly appeared on a white nationalist radio program. He wrote the foreword to a book compiling the works of a white supremacist. He relied on the work of white supremacists for research in his own work. He praised David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as having a "portfolio of winning issues."
Buchanan said "homosexual sex is unnatural and immoral" and "that kind of conduct should be discouraged in a good society." He's written of same-sex relationships: "In a healthy society, it will be contained, segregated, controlled, and stigmatized, carrying both a legal and social sanction." He once wrote of AIDS: "The poor homosexuals -- they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution."
Fellow Sunday show host Chris Wallace of Fox said Buchanan has said things "I'm not particularly fond of" including "some very incendiary things about Israel, about Jews, about blacks, about other minorities." As new CNN Sunday show host Jake Tapper once wrote, Buchanan leaves behind "a trail of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetorical dung" wherever he goes.
Why is Chuck Todd allowing him back on Meet the Press?
Todd tweeted in response to Media Matters research fellow Oliver Willis that Buchanan will be on the show "as part of a Trump segment. Trump 2015 and Buchanan 1992 share a lot of similarities on issues."
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) criticized the "lack of news coverage" of a House bill that would ban labeling requirements for genetically modified foods, in a statement to Media Matters.
Responding to Media Matters' July 24 analysis of coverage by network and cable news programs, Rep. Conyers said that "[p]eople deserve to know what's in their food" but that a lack of media attention means "most Americans have been denied basic information about the debate in Congress." Conyers added, "It's time for our nation's major news organizations to shine light on sweeping changes to our food system."
Conyers' full statement read:
HR 1599 is an unprecedented corporate power-grab, which would not only stop the Food and Drug Administration and states from labeling GMOs but also block many state and local efforts to protect farmers and the public from threats including pesticide drift. People deserve to know what's in their food. More than 90% of Americans want GMO labelling according to recent polling. Sadly -- due to a lack of news coverage about HR 1599 -- most Americans have been denied basic information about the debate in Congress. It's time for our nation's major news organizations to shine light on sweeping changes to our food system.
H.R. 1599, which passed the House on July 23 and now heads to the Senate, would block states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO), and allow food companies to describe products containing GMO ingredients as "natural." Environmental and consumer rights organizations have denounced the bill because it would keep consumers in the dark when a vast majority of Americans support the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.
The New York Times' dramatic changes to their initial, anonymously-sourced claim that federal investigators were seeking a criminal probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of personal email raises significant questions about the paper's reporting of the story.
On July 23, The New York Times published a report headlined "Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use Of Email" which claimed that "[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state." But soon after, the Times updated their report to remove the implication that Clinton was the target of the supposed investigation.
Since then, a U.S. official has reportedly stated that "the referral didn't necessarily suggest any wrongdoing by Clinton."
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic ranking member of the Benghazi Select Committee, has said that both the Intelligence Community Inspector General and the State Department Inspector General "confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation."
The Times gave no indication that the report had been altered for several hours before eventually issuing a correction explaining the paper was wrong to state that the probe targeted Clinton, but without correcting the apparent falsehood that a "criminal investigation" had been sought at all.
These developments raise substantial questions about the Times' reporting of this story, including:
In its initial article, the Times reported: "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday."
It is currently unclear who those "senior government officials" are -- whether they were Justice Department sources who may have been mistaken, Republican congressional sources who may have had an interest in deliberately misleading the paper, or a combination of both.
Politico's Dylan Byers reported that his sources told him the error came from the DOJ, but it would be beneficial for the Times to confirm, or clarify, this.
While reporters generally maintain the confidentiality of their anonymous sources as inviolate, they occasionally do reveal them when they discover their sources have deliberately misled them. The journalist Craig Silverman explained the importance of this practice in detailing one such case (emphasis in the original):
A source burned the paper, so the paper decided to burn the source by detailing her lies in a follow up report.
The resulting report may seem like nothing more than payback, but it does two important things. First, it helps readers understand why the paper published a story that led with false information. At the same time, it holds the company accountable. Second, the story functions as something of a warning to other would-be dishonest sources: You can't lie to us and get away with it.
The Times also cited "senior government officials" as its source for the claim that two inspectors general had called for a DOJ criminal probe into Clinton's actions. The article also cites two "memos" from inspectors general on the topic, which were provided to the Times and which were apparently sent before the referral itself. On Twitter, Clinton campaign aide Brian Fallon noted that he was unaware of any reporter "who has actually seen a referral" like the one described by the Times.
Not aware of a single reporter - including NYT - who has actually seen a referral. Reckless to characterize it based on secondhand info-- Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 24, 2015
Did the Times reporters try to get their hands on such documentary evidence before running with their sources' claims? If they indeed did not see the document itself, why didn't they wait for such confirmation before publishing their story?
Reporters have frequently published inaccurate material related to Clinton's emails and other aspects of the work of the House Select Committee on Benghazi by trusting what appear to be mendacious leaks from that committee's Republicans. In such cases, the committee's Democrats have been quick to issue materials correcting the record.
The Times article includes quotes from the committee's Republican chairman criticizing the State Department for not providing documents, but includes no quotes from the committee's Democrats. This morning, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's ranking member, issued a statement "in response to inaccurate leaks to the New York Times" effectively debunking a central premise of the article. Did the paper reach out to Cummings or other Democrats on the committee before publication?
The Times article, in citing anonymous "senior government officials" to claim that two inspectors general had sought a criminal investigation of Clinton never indicates whether the paper had sought to contact the offices of those inspectors general prior to publication.
In a July 24 press release, Cummings stated (emphasis added):
Over the past hour, I spoke personally with the State Department Inspector General and the Intelligence Community Inspector General together, and they both confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage. Instead, they said this was a 'routine' referral, and they have no idea how the New York Times got this so wrong.
Cummings' release further states that "The Inspectors General explained that under 50 U.S.C. section 3381, the heads of agencies notify the Department of Justice about potential compromises of classified information, but this is a routine notification process--not a request for a criminal investigation of an individual." Moreover, a Democratic spokesperson for the committee reportedly said State's inspector general "did not ask for any kind of investigation, criminal or otherwise."
This description of events differs wildly from how it was originally reported by the Times. Did its reporters reach out to the offices of those inspectors general for clarification before publishing a story that appears to be based solely on anonymous sources?
Media Matters for America Chairman David Brock issued a letter today calling on The New York Times to commission a review exploring "the process of reporting and editing at The New York Times that has allowed flawed, fact-free reporting on so-called scandals involving Hillary Clinton and report back to readers." Brock's letter was issued after the paper published another error-filled report on Clinton, this time about her use of personal email while at the State Department.
The full letter is below:
July 24, 2015
Mr. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY, 10018
Dear Mr. Sulzberger:
As you well know, millions of readers look to your paper for its factual, impartial reporting. The New York Times' reputation as the country's newspaper of record is something we cherish -- as I am sure you do as well. I am writing to you today to express my continued concern about a string of reports from your publication that have been used to cast a shadow over Hillary Clinton under false pretenses.
Let me begin by saying I acknowledge that all journalists make mistakes. Corrections get issued as a matter of course. However, an extraordinarily troubling pattern has emerged at The New York Times of flawed reporting focused on one presidential candidate in particular -- Hillary Clinton. This long pattern raises significant concerns of seemingly institutional anti-Clinton bias at the paper. Regretfully, several examples of what can be characterized at best as flawed reporting on Clinton come immediately to mind:
1) An August 13, 2013, report that claimed to expose the "unease" over finances and management at the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation was an exercise in evidence-free speculation. To date, several errors in this story, which wrongly cast aspersions on foundation management (including the false suggestion that the foundation ran a deficit in a year it actually ran a surplus), have never been corrected.
2) A March 2, 2015, report suggested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "may have violated" federal law with respect to her use of private email while at the State Department. The relevant rules covering such behavior didn't apply to Hillary Clinton's tenure at the State Department. Even The Times' key source undercut the story's central claim, saying later that Clinton had not violated the law. The original botched Times story has yet to be corrected. The Times has quietly walked back the initial claims in subsequent reporting -- with even the paper's public editor admitting that the original story was "not without fault."
3) In advance of serial misinformer Peter Schweizer releasing the decidedly anti-Hillary Clinton book Clinton Cash, The Times reported that "major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book." To date, the exact terms of the arrangement between Schweizer and The Times remain secret -- though it was clearly the springboard for yet another faulty Times story. This is extremely troubling given that Media Matters detailed more than TWENTY errors, fabrications, and distortions in Clinton Cash.
Which brings us to today and the latest disgraceful and embarrassing misstep in The New York Times' reporting on Hillary Clinton. The New York Times dramatically changed a report that initially -- based on anonymous sources -- cast Clinton as the target of a requested criminal probe. After publication, The Times altered the report to remove the implication that Clinton was the target of the requested probe -- with no acknowledgement of a correction. A spokeswoman for The New York Times even told The Washington Post there was "no reason for a correction" -- an untenable position that was abandoned later this afternoon after the Justice Department and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, refuted reports of a "criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage."
I trust you can see that The Times' reputation is at serious risk. Given the four clear examples cited here, it's time for The New York Times management to address the situation by commissioning a review that will explore the process of reporting and editing at The New York Times that has allowed flawed, fact-free reporting on so-called scandals involving Hillary Clinton and report back to readers. Perhaps lessons can be learned from the internal review commissioned by CBS News following a flawed 60 Minutes report regarding the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Following that internal review, then-Chairman of CBS News and Executive Producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager admitted that "there is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization."
I implore the paper to take any and all steps necessary so that these chronic lapses in accuracy and editorial judgement do not recur, and to ensure that the nation's paper of record can be depended on for coverage that is factual and impartial going forward.
Chairman, Media Matters for America
The New York Times issued a correction to its flawed report on a potential Department of Justice probe into Hillary Clinton's use of personal email while at the State Department.
After publishing a July 23 report that cited anonymous government officials to claim federal investigators were seeking a criminal probe into Clinton's use of personal email, the Times made dramatic alterations to the post, walking back the claim that Clinton was the target of the probe with no acknowledgement of the correction.
The Times initially said they would not issue a correction for the change, claiming there had been no "factual error," but issued a formal correction on the afternoon of July 24 to explain that Clinton was not personally the subject of the referral to investigate:
An earlier version of this article and an earlier headline, using information from senior government officials, misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's personal email account while she was secretary of state. The referral addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that personal email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton.
The Times' correction did not note the clarification from a Justice Department official that the referral was not criminal in nature, which further contradicts the Times' account.
As of posting, the Times article still appears to falsely characterize the referral as "criminal."
UPDATE: In a separate article published in the afternoon on July 24, the same NY Times reporters appear to acknowledge that DOJ has not received a "criminal" referral in this matter, writing "On Thursday night and again Friday morning, the Justice Department referred to the matter as a 'criminal referral' but later on Friday dropped the word 'criminal.'"
The State and Intelligence Community inspectors general have also put out a joint statement stating that there had been no criminal referral.
State & intel IGs put out a joint statement saying it was a counterintelligence referral, not criminal. pic.twitter.com/SZe2h7bBUm-- Byron Tau (@ByronTau) July 24, 2015
As of this posting, the original Times article is still headlined "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account," and continues to claim that the inspectors general "have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation."