The New York Times had the Trump-Russia Story in Early Fall and were too Timid to Publish
by kat68 –
As a former Washington-based journalist, I have always had it in…just a bit…for the New York Times. They are lordly and pompous with the anachronistic adherence to style and titles (Mr. and Mrs,), their longtime and ridiculous refusal to go to color and revamp their old-fashioned design, and, most of all, their awful Iraq War coverage, and subsequent lame attempts to cover their well-heeled Ivy League-educated, access-obsessed asses.
I will admit the NYT is often capable of amazing journalism. But they are a proud—overly proud—and tend not to advance stories they don’t break themselves. So when Mother Jones’ David Corn broke the story of the former MI6 officer with a thick dossier on Trump’s nefarious dealings with Russia in late October, I was dismayed, but not surprised that the NYT immediately stifled him with an Oct. 31 story entitled “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Trump.”
Here is the lede from that story:
WASHINGTON — For much of the summer, the F.B.I. pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.
Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump.
In effect, the paper promising “all the news that’s fit to print,” the same newspaper that ran an entire front page on a bogus “re-investigation” of Clinton’s e-mails, opted to use its considerable influence to shut down any further investigation into Trump’s ties to Putin. I remember feeling bewildered and shattered that day. Just reading the background on Manafort and Page, perusing Roger Stone’s Twitter brags about Podesta being “next, “ Giuliani’s braggart claims days before the Comey letter…smoke, smoke, smoke. And I am NOT prone to CT.
But the Times, with its rep, shut it down. They scared off enterprising reporters who had the same information and felt they wouldn’t be trusted now that the Times had shut it down.
Well, today Liz Spayd, the NYT public editor, admits the paper had all the information it needed, had checked out dossier-author Christopher Steele’s bona fides and found them to be sound, yet sat on the story for weeks and weeks…out of fear.
Spayd admits the NYT had the dossier well before election time:
Conversations over what to publish were prolonged and lively, involving Washington and New York, and often including the executive editor, Dean Baquet. If the allegations were true, it was a huge story. If false, they could damage The Times’s reputation. With doubts about the material and with the F.B.I. discouraging publication, editors decided to hold their fire.
So, basically, the NYT, in addition to the FBI, found Hillary’s e-mails more of front page interest…and less a legal liability…than the explosive story of a Russian-owned President. Thanks, NYT.
Spayd is somewhat fair here:
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 sophisticated investigation underway on Trump’s organization, 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, partly through a lead from anti-Trump operatives
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.
Spayd talks to reporters and editors, and I encourage all to read the full article. I think Baquet comes off very badly in this and leave you with this:
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.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos