One of President Donald Trump’s most prominent enemies in the media is licking its wounds after being forced to make a humiliating admission.
According to Axios, The New York Times is returning its 2018 Peabody Award for the podcast series Caliphate after an internal investigation revealed that significant portions of the series failed to live up to their “editorial standards.”
President Trump reacted to the news by demanding that the Times issue apologies for similar attacks against him throughout his tenure in the White House. “Oh, they do this to me every day,” he remarked in a tweet. “When will they apologize?”
Oh, they do this to me every day. When will they apologize? https://t.co/oqcroLYx5B
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2020
A rare instance of accountability
The rare instance of accountability for the Times comes after an investigation by the paper found that the main source of information for its Caliphate series had what Axios described as serious “holes” in his story.
According to Axios, it was first revealed earlier this year that “Shehroze Chaudhry, a self-proclaimed ISIS executioner, had lied and exaggerated about his experience.”
In an editor’s note, the Times said its probe “found a history of misrepresentations by Mr. Chaudhry and no corroboration that he committed the atrocities he described in the ‘Caliphate’ podcast,” Axios reported. Times executive editor Dean Baquet reportedly described Chaudhry as a “con artist.”
“I think this guy we now believe was a con artist,” Baquet said in a Friday interview, according to Axios. “I think this is one of those cases where we didn’t listen hard enough to the stuff that challenged the story and to the signs that maybe our story wasn’t as strong as we thought it was.”
“Deep, big, ambitious” lies
Baquet also admitted that he “didn’t personally pay enough attention to this one.”
“When The New York Times does deep, big, ambitious journalism in any format, we put it to a tremendous amount of scrutiny at the upper levels of the newsroom,” he explained, according to Deadline. “And I did not provide that kind of scrutiny, nor did my top deputies with deep experience in examining investigative reporting.”
The failure by the Times to substantiate its reporting puts a dark smudge on a media that has been fighting for years against allegations of fake news lodged primarily by President Trump.
But if the Times could mess up this bad on a story about ISIS, the question is raised: What else have they been lying about?