In an interview with the Washington Post analyzing how The New York Times, the Post, and NBC News managed to report falsely that the FBI warned former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign, the Times’s executive editor admitted that they “weren’t rigorous enough” in vetting the sources for the story.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said the paper’s reporters were scrambling to match what appeared to be a major scoop by the Post on Giuliani on Thursday, only to find themselves having to retract the story when the details turned out to be false.
“I think we all tend to drop our guard when we get beat and are trying to catch up,” Baquet said. “We need to grill sources more to make sure we understand exactly what they’re confirming. We’ve all discussed it, corrected it, and we need to do better. Dealing with anonymous sources in law enforcement and intelligence is always hard.”
Times reporters Ben Protess, William Rashbaum and Kenneth Vogel cited unnamed “people with knowledge of the matter,” as the basis for their story.
The use of the anonymous sources backfired spectacularly when it was revealed that Giuliani in fact didn’t receive “a so-called defensive briefing,” from the FBI as they had alleged forcing the paper to issue a correction on Saturday.