Journalist Abby Martin was surprised to learn through a fake news story on New York Times that she had quit her former job as a reporter at RT.com due to propaganda.
“I worked at RT for 1 [year] after speaking out,” she tweeted in response, adding she had left the TV channel over other reasons, not “[because] of ‘propaganda.’” RT, or Russia Today, is funded by the Russian government, but instead of confirming their story first with Martin and waiting to hit publish once they knew the author wasn’t simply speculating, the New York Times allowed a fake news article to hit the web. The story was clearly meant to confirm the then-recently released Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)’s report concerning Russia’s alleged effort to change the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in the United States. But what it actually did was further damage the mainstream media’s reputation as a source of real news.
The original New York Times piece alleged Martin was one of two anchors who quit “during live broadcasts to protest the network’s coverage of Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea.” Once the piece hit the internet, Martin took to Twitter to point out the mistake, urging author Russell Goldman to issue a correction.
Shortly after, the piece was edited, and the following correction footnote was added:
“An earlier version of this article misstated when the RT anchor Abby Martin left the network. She quit some months after denouncing on air Russia’s war in Ukraine, not during that broadcast.”
But Martin noticed that despite the edit, the piece was still incorrect.
In a tweet published after the correction note went live, she added that the “correction still insinuates I quit RT over Ukraine but I had my show for [one year] after denouncing Putin — disproving the article’s point.” At the time, she justified her departure from the network, explaining she wanted to “focus on investigative field reporting.”
In a back and forth with Goldman, the journalist expressed gratitude for the edit, pointing out that, “unfortunately [the non-factual piece] was up for almost a day [with] glaring errors about me.” In the response to the New York Times author, she added: “The truth disproves your whole point.” Goldman did not provide an answer to that particular remark.
Despite the lack of evidence connecting the Kremlin to any alleged attempt to meddle with U.S. elections, the ODNI report has been highly cited as “proof” Russian president Vladimir Putin was directly involved with attempts to elect Donald Trump. This is especially true with publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Post’s reputation recently took a hit after it published reports claiming Russia had invaded the U.S. power grid. Needless to say, the report was inconsistent with the facts.
Like the New York Times, the Post published the report without first confirming the story with Burlington Electric, the electrical company Russia allegedly hacked.
From The Intercept:
“Apparently, the Post did not even bother to contact the company before running its wildly sensationalistic claims, so Burlington Electric had to issue its own statement to the Burlington Free Press, which debunked the Post’s central claim.”
Martin echoed Glenn Greenwald’s words when responding to a question concerning the New York Times piece.
“The so-called paper of record hadn’t even bothered to reach out,” she told RT.
Ironically, the New York Times and the Washington Post have been two of the fiercest critics of so-called fake news on the internet. The Washington Post even published an article that claimed many pushers of fake news — including the site you are reading right now — are actually Russian agents. Hilariously, though, WaPo later distanced itself from the article after it was found to be fake news itself.
Why are so many well-established news organizations like The New York Times and the Washington Post risking their reputations over these small mistakes, failing to check with sources before breaking news?
We might never know the answer, but many seem to think it’s politically motivated.
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