Fixed: An Absurdly Written NYT Correction To A Trump-Russia Story

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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The New York Times has issued an absurdly written correction to a story about President Trump and Russian meddling.

White House reporter Maggie Haberman falsely claimed in her report that 17 intelligence agencies all agreed Russia tried to interfere in the presidential election, reiterating a thoroughly debunked liberal talking point.

Trump “still refuses to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies,” she wrote in the Sunday report. Apparently facing substantial criticism, the paper corrected the error Thursday.

But instead of simply and clearly correcting the report, TheNYT added a paragraph to the end that reflects either an astoundingly poor ability to communicate in English, or a deliberate effort to obscure the error and resulting correction.

It reads:

“A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

Why is Haberman’s story needlessly referred to as a “White House Memo article?” What does Trump’s “deflections and denials” have to do with the correction TheNYT is ostensibly trying to communicate here? What does “referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment” mean?

Let’s clear this up.

Haberman’s story repeated a claim liberals began circulating following a declassified report from the Director of National Intelligence in October on the Russian influence campaign. Since the DNI heads up 17 agencies, it was easy to frame the declassified report as a consensus built on 17 separate assessments. In fact only the three agencies who reviewed the matter signed off on that consensus.

The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said as much in a May Senate hearing. The assessment was a “coordinated” product from the FBI, the NSA and the CIA, he said, working under the “aegis” of the DNI. It was not signed off on by 17 agencies. That makes sense, as some of the agencies — Coast Guard intel perhaps most obviously — would have little to do with election hacking.

The Daily Caller News Foundation also addressed the claim in a fact check of a Hillary Clinton interview in May where she again repeated the phrase. Certainly, none of the other agencies disagreed on the record, but that’s to be expected if they didn’t conduct a separate analysis.

The corrected version of Haberman’s story no longer includes the debunked 17 figure, but still misleadingly identifies the DNI as a separate intelligence agency, which Comey characterized as playing an overseeing role on the review of Russia rather than producing a separate assessment.

The Daily Caller News Foundation went ahead and fixed TheNYT correction, to make it read in plain English: “This article incorrectly stated 17 intelligence agencies all came to the same conclusion that Russia tried to meddle in the presidential election. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the intelligence community, but by the three agencies who reviewed the matter — the FBI, the CIA and the NSA.”

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