DaTimes admits it published ‘fake news’

By Christopher Harper

The New York Times finally admitted that it published fake news over the past few years.

The admission wasn’t about the coverage of the Trump administration, but the errors stabbed at the very heart of what DaTimes considers its influence: international reporting.

You shouldn’t be surprised that you haven’t heard much about the massive editorial issues because DaTimes dumped the findings on the weekend before Christmas.

Reporter Rukmini Callimachi has been at the center of the publication’s coverage of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State.

In December 2014, Callimachi unearthed what appeared to be an important discovery. Syrian journalist Louai Abo Aljoud, Callimachi reported, said he had seen three American hostages while he was being held at an Islamic State facility in 2013. Upon further inspection, however, key details failed to bear out the “news,” resulting in an editor’s note affixed to the story on Friday.

“After the article was published, The Times learned that Mr. Aljoud had given inconsistent accounts of key elements of the episode to Times journalists and others,” the note reads in part.

After the publication of the editor’s note, Karam Shoumali, a Syrian journalist who worked with Callimachi, tweeted that he told the reporter about errors in the story. But she refused to change the details.

The tweet stands as evidence that as early as late 2014, less than a year after Callimachi jumped from the Associated Press to DaTimes, colleagues expressed concerns about her methods and conclusions.

But there’s a lot more. A key figure in DaTimes’ podcast, “The Caliphate,” which Callimachi created, was a fraud. Last September, Canadian authorities charged Shehroze Chaudhry for carrying out a terrorism hoax. Chaudhry was a key figure in “The Caliphate,” a 12-part series created in 2018. 

On Friday, DaTimes finally came clean. An editor’s note atop “Caliphate” admitted the collapse of key episodes. “In the absence of firmer evidence, ‘Caliphate’ should have been substantially revised to exclude the material related to Mr. Chaudhry. The podcast as a whole should not have been produced with Mr. Chaudhry as a central narrative character,” the note reads in part.

DaTimes failed to listen to various reporters from the news organization itself. This frequent problem has existed at the publication in past misadventures, such as Jason Blair and Judith Miller. 

Last week top editors who worked with Callimachi admitted their errors. But some reporters were not assuaged. C.J. Chivers, a former foreign correspondent and now a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, was among the first Times reporters to complain to editors. 

“You discouraged people from using the fire alarm, and when some of us did use the fire alarm anyhow, we found the alarm was not connected to anything,” Chivers reportedly told the group. 

But there is a more fundamental question that runs through these problems at DaTimes, mainly since it is far from the first time that such egregious errors have happened. 

I gave up on DaTimes a few years ago. But it would seem its loyal readers should be asking a fundamental question: If someone got away with making stuff up for six years, shouldn’t the news organization take a harder look at all other aspects of the publication?   

DaTechGuy on DaRadio Fault Lines Radio that is Tomorrow 8:30 AM EST.

Tomorrow on the feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel I’ll be on Fault Lines Radio talking the NYT tax story.

Oh full disclose, I’ll be on Fault Lines Radio making fun of the NYT Trump Tax story & those pushing it and making this point:

Oh and don’t miss this week’s live stream podcast tentatively at 3 PM unless the horrible Trump economy makes me work another Friday.

Hope to catch you there.

The Real Purpose of the 1619 Project (UPDATED)

Like always.

Title of the Project is wrong, not to mention the Premise 

by baldilocks

From Lyman Stone at the Federalist on New York Times 1619 Project.

1619 is commonly cited as the date slavery first arrived in “America.” No matter that historians mostly consider the 1619 date a red herring. Enslaved people were working in English Bermuda in 1616. Spanish colonies and forts in today’s Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina had enslaved Africans throughout the mid-to-late 1500s: in fact, a slave rebellion in 1526 helped end the Spanish attempt at settling South Carolina.

The presence of Spanish power continued to inhibit English settlement of the deep south basically until the Revolutionary War. In some sense, the 1526 San Miguel de Guadeloupe rebellion cleared the way for English settlement of South Carolina.

(…)

But before 1526, slavery was already ongoing in the eventual United States. The earliest slave society in our present country, and our most recent slavery society, was in Puerto Rico. The island’s Spanish overlords were enslaving the Taino natives by 1500. By 1513, the Taino population had shrunk dramatically due to brutal violence and disease. Thus, Spain brought the first African slaves to Puerto Rico.

Chattel slavery in Puerto Rico continued, despite many “Royal Graces” easing life for free blacks and sometimes promising eventual emancipation, until 1873. Even then, slaves had to buy their own liberty. It’s not clear when the last slave was free in Puerto Rico, but it would still have been a fresh memory in 1898 when the United States gained control from Spain.

Slavery in America did not begin in 1619. It began in 1513. Any argument for a 1619 date implicitly suggests that the American project is an inherently Anglo project: that other regions, like Texas, California, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico, have subordinate histories that aren’t really, truly, equal as American origin stories.

But even if the title were correct, what’s the true propose of this project? Stone gives the answer earlier in the piece.

It isn’t mostly about helping Americans understand the role played by plantation agriculture in American history. It’s mostly about convincing Americans that “America” and “slavery” are essentially synonyms.

Previously, I’ve discussed the Civil War and whether (or not) present-day black Americans should be grateful to our country and to those who fought on the Union side. A lot of people didn’t like my conclusion.

True freedom fighters have the clean conscious of God. May that be enough for them.

And at the same time, however, this country has no need to pay for its past sins. This very same Civil War was America’s trial by fire, its conviction, and its sentence — something that American leaders chose.

But, it seems as if all too many are intent on keeping everyone angry about hardships none of them had to bear. All the New York Times want to do is make itself the drum major of the anger and vengeance parade.

And what if America and slavery are synonymous? What then? Oh, yes, reparations.

Reparations, just like every other government program, will become just another cistern for politicians to wet their beaks. How do you think they all get rich?

Because that’s the true purpose of all this — to create another means for our money to become theirs.

By the way, what about those Spaniards?

UPDATE: For some strange reason, people seem to think I’m unaware of the world history of slavery. I am not.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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