This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 21, 2015:  

The New York Times logo

According to the Associated Managing Editors (APME), “the public’s right to know about matters of importance is paramount. The newspaper has a special responsibility as a surrogate of its readers to be a vigilant watchdog of their legitimate public interests.” Accordingly,

The good newspaper is fair, accurate, honest, responsible, independent and decent. is its guiding principle.

Poor Margaret Sullivan. As the Public Editor of the New York Times, it seems she just can’t catch a break. First it was the article that the Times published in July stating that Hillary Clinton was being investigated by the State Department on criminal charges. The investigation centered on her use of her private email server to send and receive state secrets.

So outraged was the Clinton campaign that Jennifer Palmieri, Communications Director for Hillary for America, sent a 1900-word letter of protest to the Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet, expressing “our campaign’s grave concern with the Times’ publication of an inaccurate report related to Hillary Clinton and her email use.” She added:

I feel obliged to put into context just how egregious an error this story was … [theTimes] rushed to put an erroneous story on the front page charging that [Clinton] was the target of a criminal referral to federal law enforcement….

This problem was compounded by the the Times took an inexplicable, let alone indefensible, delay in correcting the story and removing “criminal” from the headline and text of the story….


Mrs. Clinton is not the target of a criminal referral made by the State Department’s and Intelligence Community’s Inspectors General, and second, the referral in question was not of a criminal nature at all.

This wasn’t enough for the angry Ms. Palmieri:

This was, to put it mildly, an egregious breach of the process that should occur when a major newspaper like the Times is pursuing a story of this magnitude…. Key details went uninvestigated in the Times’ rush to publish these erroneous allegations against Mrs. Clinton.

This was followed by a scathing on Sullivan by David Brock, head of Media Matters, a progressive watchdog group that usually conservatives, claiming sloppy reporting in the article. Sullivan replied, saying that while Brock’s on her personally was “over the top,” the reporting was “not without fault.” She then tried to explain away how the article made it to print without it being sufficiently vetted for accuracy:

The inaccuracies and changes in the [Clinton] story were handled as they came along, with little explanation to readers, other than routine corrections.


You can’t put stories like this back in the bottle – they ripple through the entire news systems….


So it was, to put it mildly, a mess.

But that was July. In the world of deadlines and pressures to “scoop” the competition, that is ancient history. Last Sunday the Times stepped in it again, this time claiming that U.S. immigration officials knew about the radical background of Tashfeen Malik, one of the shooters in San Bernardino, but did nothing about it. The implication was that, due to federal incompetence, Americans died that day.

On Saturday Sullivan issued an apology, sort of, for getting the story wrong: “Ms. Malik had not posted “openly” on social media. She had written emails; she had written private messages, not visible to the public; and she had written [them] on a dating site.”

In her remarkable admission of failure, absent a complete apology, Sullivan said she spoke to those responsible, and they’re going to do something about it:

I talked on Friday to the executive editor, Dean Baquet; to one of his chief deputies, Matt Purdy; and to the Washington editor, Bill Hamilton, who edited the article.


All [of them] described what happened as deeply troubling. Mr. Baquet said that some new procedures need to be put in place, especially for dealing with anonymous sources, and he said he would begin working on that immediately.

The Times has a long history of such failures, each of which has sullied its reputation further. It took the Times 13 months to report on the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) illegal surveillance program. Former officials alerted Times journalists James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the details in November, 2004 but the top brass held off publishing the story until well after the November elections, thanks to pressure from the Bush Administration, publishing it instead in December 2005.

In 2006 the Times was criticized for taking sides in the Duke University lacrosse scandal, publishing only the prosecutors’ version of the events in the highly publicized rape case.

In 2003, Jayson Blair, a Times reporter, was forced to resign after he was caught plagiarizing and fabricating elements of his stories.

Taking the cake for journalistic infidelity, however, is Walter Duranty, shilling for the monster Joe Stalin and his Soviet Union in a series of articles he wrote in the 1930s for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. In 2003 (70 years after the fact!), the Times hired Mark von Hagen, professor of Russian history at Columbia University, to review Duranty’s work. He concluded that his articles and reports were unbalanced and uncritical, with von Hagen concluding that, “For the sake of the New York Times’ honor, they should take the [Pulitzer] prize away.”

How many more examples of such journalistic infidelity will it take for readers of the Timesto realize that “All the news that’s fit to print” is really just “All the news that fits.”

Perhaps Sullivan should click over to the APME’s code of ethics for a refresher in journalistic integrity.


Statement of Ethical Principles from the Associated Press Managing Editors

New York Times:         Systemic Change Needed After Faulty Times Article

Background on New York Times

Letter from the Clinton campaign to the New York Times’ Dean Baquet


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