GOP Lawmaker Demands Correction From NPR After Being Accused Of Lying Over Schiff

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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  • Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks sent a letter to NPR Thursday demanding the outlet publish a correction in regards to a public editor’s piece correcting his live interview.
  • The public editor accused Banks of mischaracterizing a New York Times story that found House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff knew about a whistleblower prior to a complaint being filed.
  • Banks wrote that his comments were accurate and NPR’s follow-up piece is “false.”

A GOP lawmaker accused National Public Radio on Thursday of spreading misinformation and requested a correction after its public editor said he lied during a live interview with the outlet.

During an Oct. 2 interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff lied about his contact with the whistleblower who filed a complaint against President Donald Trump regarding a phone call with Ukraine’s president.

NPR Public Editor Elizabeth Jensen sought to clarify Banks’s comments in an Oct. 4 opinion article, writing that “the interview turned contentious” and the congressman “incorrectly characterized a New York Times story about Adam Schiff.”

Banks responded to Jensen’s article in a Thursday letter to NPR News Executive Editor Edith Chapin: “In fact, it is Mrs. Jensen’s article that spreads misinformation. The premise of the article, that I mischaracterized Adam Schiff’s relationship with the whistleblower, is false. I request that NPR publish an article correcting her ‘correction.'”

A New York Times article published the same day as Banks’ interview found that Schiff had been informed of the whistleblower before the complaint was filed. A subsequent Washington Post fact check gave the California Democrat four Pinocchios for his previous comments regarding his committee’s interactions with the whistleblower.

But Jensen wrote in a piece titled “Setting The Record Straight After A Live Interview”:

Banks also incorrectly characterized a New York Times story about Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, incorrectly asserting that Schiff had “lied” about his role in the whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment drive. (I’m not going to repeat the entire incorrect statement.) Martin didn’t challenge Banks’ statements about Schiff during the live interview.

An aide brought the whistleblower’s concerns to Schiff before the person filed a complaint, the NYT reported. Schiff did not know the whistleblower’s identity, but previously denied ever having contact or knowing of the complaint beforehand. He said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Sept. 17 that “we have not directly spoken with the whistleblower,” the letter reads.

“A fact-check by the Washington Post, hardly a conservative publication, gave Schiff’s Morning Joe claim ‘Four Pinocchios’ – their highest rating for dishonesty. So, Chairman Schiff, like Mrs. Jensen, did, in fact, ‘lie about it,'” Banks wrote.

Jensen took exception with three statements Banks made during the interview, adding that none of the comments were pushed back on in real time by Martin:

And today, just a few hours ago, we got a taste of what I mean by that with The New York Times story coming out that all along, Adam Schiff knew about the whistleblower. The whistleblower came to Chairman Schiff and to the intelligence committee even though he lied about it and said that he’d never spoken directly to the whistleblower. We now know that he was part of orchestrating the whistleblower account to begin with.

Martin added a disclaimer at the end of the interview stating that “Congressman Banks did not accurately describe The New York Times reporting” about Schiff and the whistleblower complaint. (RELATED: Whistleblower Did Not Disclose Contact With Schiff’s Office, Intel Intelligence General Told Congress)

“The Times quoted a spokesman for Congressman Schiff who said Schiff never saw any part of the complaint or knew precisely what the whistleblower would deliver,” Martin said.

A member of the congressman’s staff told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the lawmaker read the NYT report shortly before going on air.

NPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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