New York Times, authors Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo were forced to retract key points and alter their wording in an article concerning the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email account involving emails in which “classified information” may have existed.
Although the information and sources used in the production of the article could initially be labeled as reliable and professional, fact checking revealed errors in the authors’ work. The authors originally published that Clinton, herself, was being investigated for mishandling the emails, but a correction was later made stating that the connection between potentially comprised classified information was being investigated not Clinton specifically.
The corrective note did not state whether the misinterpretation was due to the authors’ lack of understanding regarding what was relayed by the State Department or whether they were initially provided with faulty information. The lack of clarity and specificity surrounding the authors’ approach to fact collection and source reliability can be questioned.
The authors also made a mistake as they initially wrote in the article the State Department issued a “criminal referral” as opposed to a “security referral”. As a law of journalism, it is the authors’ utmost responsibility to ensure factual reporting when dealing with potential crime and a linking accusation to a person. In the ensuing editor’s note released four days later, it is stated that the reporters were twice given false information or, at the very least false quoting, by the State Department concerning the state of Clinton’s referral as the NY Times claimed they were reassured by the State Department that the referral was criminal after double checking its facts in light of the previously mentioned mistake.
The reporters were correct in their assertion, however, that no emails had been marked as classified when Clinton directly dealt with them. The editor’s note stated four emails were later pegged as containing classified information, but were not deemed as such at the time in which they appeared in Clinton’s personal email.
In conclusion the controversy stems upon a questionable strategy of fact collection and understanding among the two authors. Although their adherence to AP style was strong, the piece properly transitioned segments, and the sources were highly-ranked officials, the lack of corrective information destroys the credibility of the entire story.
Tags and Key Words: Hillary Clinton, Personal Email, Investigation, Criminal Referral, Security Referral, State Department, New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo, Editor’s Note, Corrective Information