Major media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and NBC News were forced to publish retractions on Saturday after falsely claiming that Rudy Giuliani was warned about Russian disinformation by the FBI prior to the raid on his Manhattan apartment last week.
In a story about Giuliani’s possible role in the 2019 recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch, the Times posted this correction: “An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing.”
Meanwhile, the Post, which published a story claiming prominent U.S. citizens have been the targets of misinformation campaigns run by Moscow, was forced to publish a similar-sounding retraction.
“An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation,” the paper noted.
“That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings,” the Post added.
NBC News’s initial story relied on one source, but the outlet published a retraction later claiming that a second source “now says the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him, in part over concerns it might complicate the criminal investigation of Giuliani. As a result, the premise and headline of the article below have been changed to reflect the corrected information.”
The corrections come after Giuliani himself demanded that the outlets provide their sources and publish retractions as well as reveal who provided the false information to them.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 2, 2021
“Where did the original false information come from? @[email protected]@nytimes I couldn’t quite hear your apology?” he wrote Saturday in a now-deleted tweet.
“The Washington Post and NYT must reveal their sources who lied and targeted an American Citizen. #msnbc , #cnn forgot to mention the corrections today. #fakenews #badpeople,” he noted in a follow-up tweet that remains online.
Late last month, FBI agents raided the apartment of former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confiscated nearly all of the electronic devices he had in his possession, as per the search warrant.
Reports later claimed the raid came after a nearly two-year investigation into whether Giuliani improperly lobbied Trump on behalf of Ukrainian officials without first registering as a foreign agent, which is required by law.
Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor who once ran the influential U.S. Attorney office for the Southern District of New York, subsequently denied he lobbied the former president on behalf of anyone, let alone Ukrainian officials. He also said that the FBI agents who conducted the raid were professional and courteous, but that they refused to take three hard drives allegedly containing materials from Hunter Biden’s controversial laptop, which Giuliani says was a violation of the search warrant.
Trump criticized the raid and suggested that it was entirely political in nature.
“Rudy Giuliani is a great patriot. He just loves this country and they raid his apartment. It’s so unfair and it’s like a double standard like I don’t think anybody’s ever seen before,” he said. “It’s very, very unfair.”
As for the false reporting, the Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets were called out by CNN media analyst Brian Stelter, whose own network developed a reputation during Trump’s term for publishing stories allegedly based on federal intelligence sources that were ultimately false.
In a segment with senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, both appeared to blame “human error,” while praising the outlets for publishing retractions rather than knocking them for failing to corroborate their sources before publishing their erroneous reports.
“The new story is that FBI planned to warn Rudy and OAN they might be used as Russian puppets, but they didn’t actually deliver the warning,” Stelter said.
“In this case, that appears to be what has happened with all of these news organizations,” Darcy responded. “The bottom line is there are safeguards in place, unfortunately, human error is still at play and news organizations sometimes do get burned like this.”
Darcy went on to accuse the New York Post and other “MAGA media” outlets of refusing to publish retractions when they get details of a story wrong, without full explanation.
“The bottom line is the organizations, they were responsible when they learned that they made an error,” he said. “They owned up to it. They issued corrections, and outlets like the New York Post and others in MAGA media, they often do everything they can to avoid issuing corrections, to own up to their mistakes, and sometimes it seems like they are intentionally promoting falsehoods and moving on.”
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