Strike Two for Pair of New York Times Reporters

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Today, FBI director James Comey said the San Bernardino shooters never talked openly about violent jihadism on social media: “So far, in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom. I’ve seen some reporting on that, and that’s a garble.”

So where did this notion come from, anyway? The answer is a New York Times story on Sunday headlined “U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife’s Zealotry on Social Media.” It told us that Tashfeen Malik “talked openly” on social media about jihad and that, “Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country.” The story was written by Matt Apuzzo, Michael Schmidt, and Julia Preston.

Do those names sound familiar? They should. The first two were also the authors of July’s epic fail claiming that Hillary Clinton was the target of a criminal referral over the mishandling of classified information in her private email system. In the end, virtually everything about the story turned out to be wrong. Clinton was not a target. The referral was not criminal. And as the story itself noted, the emails in question had most likely not been classified at the time Clinton saw them.

Assuming Comey is telling the truth, that’s two strikes. Schmidt and Apuzzo either have some bad sources somewhere, or else they have one really bad source somewhere. And coincidentally or not, their source(s) have provided them with two dramatic but untrue scoops that make prominent Democrats look either corrupt or incompetent. For the time being, Schmidt and Apuzzo should be considered on probation. That’s at least one big mistake too many.

UPDATE: The New York Times has asked for a correction to my characterization of the July 23 Schmidt/Apuzzo piece about Hillary Clinton’s email. “Our story never said that a probe or investigation had been opened,” their representative writes. That is correct. It said there had been a request for a criminal investigation.

Also: “The story does not say that the emails had been classified at the time Clinton saw them.” True enough. My apologies for implying otherwise. I have corrected the text of the post.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate