NY Times Reverses In Story On Criminal Inquiry Into Hillary Email After Her Camp Complains

News broke on Hillary Clinton's email controversy Thursday night, and Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo led with this sentence in their initial report on nytimes.com:

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

But after pushback from the Clinton camp, that tough lede became this laughably evasive, indirect accusation (changes in bold):

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

After the unacknowledged change was noticed on social media, Politico's media writer Dylan Byers found that the Hillary team had complained to the Times about the initial Thursday night story, and the paper (surprise) complied:

The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's State Department email account late Thursday night, but provided no notification of or explanation for of the changes.

The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation "into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state."

That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry "into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state."

....

One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.

“It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,” Schmidt said.

But then, the Times either unmade them or kept them as they are, at least in some of Friday's print editions. The lede to Schmidt and Apuzzo's story in my own Friday morning "Late Edition" print newspaper is identical to the tougher initial lede, and the headline is also more direct: "Criminal Inquiry Sought in Clinton's use of Email."

This alternate print edition remains the same, and the online version remains re-edited in Hillary Clinton's favor, with the awkward "in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state" formulation still intact, and a weaker headline: "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account."

2016 Presidential Foreign Policy Bias by Omission Political Scandals New York Times Michael Schmidt Matt Apuzzo Hillary Clinton
Clay Waters's picture


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