New York Times and Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning stories unravel in wake of Durham report

HomeHealth

New York Times and Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning stories unravel in wake of Durham report

A Pulitzer-prize winning report by The New York Times that includes allegations of Russian meddling in US elections has been torn apart by the John Du

The neck never lies 
Dementia diet: The seasonal vegetable that could slash your risk of symptoms
Steph Curry agrees new lucrative long-term deal with Under Armour

A Pulitzer-prize winning report by The New York Times that includes allegations of Russian meddling in US elections has been torn apart by the John Durham investigation.

The probe by the special counsel contains fresh embarrassment for The Gray Lady and Washington Post, both of which won Pulitzers for their reporting on the saga.

And left-leaning networks and newspapers which lapped up the fabricated stories linking Trump to the Kremlin and the salacious Steele dossier are now facing renewed fury. 

Durham highlights a Times report from December 2017, which claimed that in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, ‘made a startling revelation’ to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain.

Namely: ‘Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton’ and ‘Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs Clinton’.

Staff members from The New York Times and The Washington Post (from left: Maggie Haberman, Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, Greg Miller and Mark Mazzetti) accept the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting from Columbia University President Lee Bollinger

Staff members from The New York Times and The Washington Post (from left: Maggie Haberman, Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, Greg Miller and Mark Mazzetti) accept the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting from Columbia University President Lee Bollinger

Staff members from The New York Times and The Washington Post (from left: Maggie Haberman, Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, Greg Miller and Mark Mazzetti) accept the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting from Columbia University President Lee Bollinger

Former NYT executive editor Dean Baquet was criticized in a scathing review of the newspaper's coverage of the Trump-Russia saga by the Columbia Journalism Review

Former NYT executive editor Dean Baquet was criticized in a scathing review of the newspaper's coverage of the Trump-Russia saga by the Columbia Journalism Review

Former NYT executive editor Dean Baquet was criticized in a scathing review of the newspaper’s coverage of the Trump-Russia saga by the Columbia Journalism Review

A report by Special Counsel John Durham discredits a dossier by a British ex-spy that was swallowed up by the media, including The NYT and Washington Post

A report by Special Counsel John Durham discredits a dossier by a British ex-spy that was swallowed up by the media, including The NYT and Washington Post

A report by Special Counsel John Durham discredits a dossier by a British ex-spy that was swallowed up by the media, including The NYT and Washington Post 

Yet the Australian diplomat in question – Alexander Downer – told the Durham probe that ‘Papadopoulos made no mention of Clinton emails, dirt or any specific approach by the Russian government to the Trump campaign’.

In fact, Durham found the Papadopoulos information was so not ‘startling’ that agents immediately dismissed it.

But The NYT report was critical in triggering the FBI probe into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, which the Durham report has now found should never have been launched.

It has fueled calls for the Pulitzers to be returned, after the board who issues the prizes rejected calls for them to be rescinded last year.

Ted Cruz, Trump’s former rival, tweeted Monday: ‘Accountability now – starting with WaPo and The New York Times returning their Pulitzer Prizes for breathlessly spreading these “Russia, Russia, Russia” lies.’

The Durham investigation comes hot on the heels of an excoriating report by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), which took aim at The Times for its coverage of the Trump-Russia saga.

The CJR, the in-house publication of America’s most prestigious journalism school, spent 18 months digging into the media’s reporting of Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

The report contained criticism of the media as a whole, but author Jeff Gerth reserved particular disdain for The Times. 

The investigative journalist introduced his findings by stating his belief that the newspaper had damaged its credibility outside its ‘own bubble’. 

Renowned journalist Bob Woodward told him coverage of the Russia probe ‘wasn’t handled well’.

DailyMail.com breaks down how the Trump-Russia stories flourished in the media, despite a lack of credible evidence, and how the award-winning articles have been debunked. 

EARLY REPORTING

Gerth noted inconsistencies in the newspaper’s reporting. In October 2016, it ran the headline, ‘Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia’ on a story about alleged covert communications between the Trump Organization and the Kremlin-linked Alfa Bank.

In January 2017, however, just days before Trump’s inauguration, the newspaper said: ‘Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry into Trump Associates’.

It prompted Peter Strzok, who was leading the FBI inquiry, to text the publication, ‘no substance and largely wrong’, adding ‘the press is going to undermine its credibility’, Gerth reported.

A month later, then executive editor of The Times Dean Baquet personally signed off a story headlined ‘Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence’, describing it as ‘the biggest story in years’.

Gerth noted contradictions between a disclaimer high up in the piece stating that sources ‘so far’ had seen ‘no evidence’ of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia and an ensuing paragraph that reported ‘anonymous officials being ‘alarmed’ about the supposed Russian-Trump contacts’.

The story added that ‘the FBI declined to comment’, but Strzok was in fact telling his bosses that he had found ‘numerous inaccuracies, including a categorical refutation of the lead and headline’, Gerth found.

Strzok wrote: ‘We are unaware of ANY Trump advisers engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.’

STEELE DOSSIER

British ex-intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the infamous dossier of material on Donald Trump and the then-candidate's Russia ties

British ex-intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the infamous dossier of material on Donald Trump and the then-candidate's Russia ties

British ex-intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the infamous dossier of material on Donald Trump and the then-candidate’s Russia ties

Durham’s report is highly critical of the Steele dossier, an explosive document that had been used by the FBI to argue it had probable cause for securing surveillance warrants against a former Trump campaign adviser.

The dossier, compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, contained unverified allegations about Trump’s connections to Russia, but Durham found the FBI ‘did not and could not corroborate any of the substantive allegations’.

In its reporting, The Times claimed Steele had ‘a credible track record’. 

In March 2017, The Post ran the headline: ‘FBI wants to pay author of Trump dossier: Arrangement fell apart but shows bureau found his inquiry credible.’

Yet the report never quoted anyone saying the dossier was credible.

It was later that year that The Times ran its Papadopoulos piece – the last story in its Pulitzer entry – with the headline: ‘Unlikely Source Propelled Russian Meddling Inquiry.’

This claimed that it was in fact the Trump adviser, not the dossier that fueled the FBI investigation.

Papadopoulos has never been accused of or charged with conspiring with Russia, but served 12 days in prison for lying to the FBI.

‘THE PLOT TO SUBVERT AN ELECTION’

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok rubbished reports by The NYT on Russiagate

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok rubbished reports by The NYT on Russiagate

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok rubbished reports by The NYT on Russiagate

The newspapers are now facing calls to hand back Pulitzers won for their coverage of the story

The newspapers are now facing calls to hand back Pulitzers won for their coverage of the story

The newspapers are now facing calls to hand back Pulitzers won for their coverage of the story

The Post told DailyMail.com last night that it 'stands by its reporting'

The Post told DailyMail.com last night that it 'stands by its reporting'

The Post told DailyMail.com last night that it ‘stands by its reporting’

In January 2017, intelligence officials asserted ‘the impact that Russian activities on the outcome of the 2016 election’ could not be measured.

But Gerth noted that The Times took its own view on the matter with an article headlined: ‘The Plot to Subvert an Election’.

It used the example of Facebook posts of a Vladimir Putin banner unfurled on a Manhattan bridge, which had been promoted by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a privately owned troll operation in Russia.

The Times described it as ‘the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history’, concluding the posts had an ‘eventual audience of 126 million Americans’.

Veteran journalist Gareth Porter, however, described this claim as ‘bogus’ given that the figure was only a ‘potential audience’.

He said that the paper’s failure to add that Facebook users were exposed to 33 trillion news feeds during that period meant the report ‘should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading use of statistics of all time’.

The Post ran a similar opinion piece in December 2017, headlined: ‘Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked.’

It argued: ‘The result is without obvious parallel in US history. A situation in which the personal insecurities of the president – and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality – have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat.’

AFTERMATH

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos arrives with his wife Simona Mangiante at for his sentencing hearing in 2018 in Washington, DC. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the FBI's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos arrives with his wife Simona Mangiante at for his sentencing hearing in 2018 in Washington, DC. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the FBI's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos arrives with his wife Simona Mangiante at for his sentencing hearing in 2018 in Washington, DC. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to investigators during the FBI’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election

In November 2021, The Post retracted large chunks of two articles published in 2017 and 2019 that relied on the Steele dossier.

Sally Buzbee, the executive editor for the Washington Post, said the newspaper was unable to stand by the accuracy of their reporting regarding source Sergei Millian – former president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce – noting the indictment filed by Durham that month.

The Times has not issued any retractions, but Gerth, a former reporter for the paper himself, said that it was one of many news organizations that ‘were quick to highlight the lack of firsthand evidence’ for many of Steele’s ‘substantive allegations’.

In his concluding remarks, the CJR reporter slammed the NYT for ignoring a publicly available document showing the FBI didn’t think there was much evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.

He also cited the newspaper’s repeated failures to seek comment from the person it was accusing of wrongdoing in its articles – a fundamental tenet of rigorous reporting – and its consistent reliance on vague, anonymous sources.

An NYT spokesman told Gerth it reported the Russiagate saga ‘thoroughly and in line with our editorial standards’.

The Washington Post told DailyMail.com that it ‘stands by its reporting’.

In a statement in July last year, the Pulitzer Prize Board said two independent reviews of the prize-winning reports ‘converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes’.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
    DISQUS: