The New York Times failed to vet claims of sexual harassment about a progressive New York City mayoral candidate before publicizing the claims.
Instead, the Times reported on the claims using a press conference that was attended by another publication and quoted opponents of the candidate to bolster the credibility of the accuser.
Now, The Intercept reports that the claims by the accuser are at least overblown and, in some respects, the facts directly contradict the claims — facts that any responsible journalist could have — and should have — verified before the Times reported on the accusations.
At issue are claims made by progressive lobbyist Jean Kim.
Kim, 49, said at a press conference that New York City comptroller Scott Stringer sexually harassed and eventually assaulted her 20 years ago. Stringer, 61, is running for mayor in New York City.
“Jean Kim said Mr. Stringer assaulted her when she worked on his campaign 20 years ago and warned her not to tell anyone,” the New York Times reported about the most serious allegation.
Kim made the allegations at a press conference attended by a local magazine, Gothamist, the account of which was used as the main source for the reporting of the accusations by the New York Times.
But since then, the story, as related by Kim, has been shown to have some holes.
“A number of sources, including documents and records from the time, cast doubt on Kim’s claim to have met Stringer for the first time in 2001,” says the Intercept. “While Kim claimed to have been an unpaid intern on the Stringer’s 2001 campaign for public advocate, others involved in the campaign said that by that point she was already an established member of the group’s social set helping out a friend running for office.”
The Intercept says their relationship dates back to the 1990s and was less-than-professional.
One woman quoted by the Intercept says that Stringer and Kim “definitely had a more-than-friends relationship.”
The New York Times might have known if it had fact-checked.
Instead, the Times found an opponent of Stringer who offered backhanded support to Jean Kim.
“For someone like Jean, her entire career is in New York City politics,” Brooklyn councilman Stephen Levin, told the New York Times. “So I have no reason to believe that she’s not telling the truth. Just like in elected office, for a lobbyist, your credibility is the most important thing.”
Levin is backing an opponent of Stringer.
The Times says Levin described Kim as “a very nice, very good person.”
Too bad for Mr. Stringer that the Times doesn’t think the same about him with his entire career being in New York politics, and credibility being really important for a comptroller who has charge of city accounting.
Because the result of the story for Stringer has been an avalanche of canceled endorsements and very public cancellations of support.