What else did the New York Times get wrong?
The paper’s already damaged reputation took a big hit last week when former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that the Times screwed up in a key story that tried to make the case that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians during the election.
In the front page piece that ran on Feb. 15, the Times said that “phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”
Five Times reporters contributed to the article, which — if true — would have been pretty damning. And so it became a focal point of last week’s hearing.
The only problem was that the Times article was wrong. And — despite the Times’ effort to downplay and ignore its massive goof — Comey, in no uncertain terms, said it was “not true.”
Referring specifically to the Times piece, Comey said: “The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters, about writing stories about classified information is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it.”
“In the main,” Comey continued, the Times story “was not true.”
Okay, there’s a little wiggle room in there when you say “in the main.” But Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a member of th Senate Intelligence Committee, made sure there was no misunderstanding when he asked Comey: Would it be fair to characterize the story as “almost entirely wrong?”
Comey answered, “Yes.”
We all make mistakes, but this one by the Times was a doozy.
So how did the Times handle its embarrassment? It buried Comey’s statement on Page A21 in last Friday’s paper with an innocuous headline: “Disputing Times Article About Inquiry into Russia.”