In a stunning revelation today, the Public Editor of the New York Times has announced that her newspaper held off from publishing a story during the election season about Donald Trump’s secret ties to Russia, after the FBI discouraged publication. She’s acknowledging that the story could have “upended” the presidential election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, and she’s criticizing her own newspaper for having been too “timid” in pulling its punches.
New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd published an article today in which she revealed that “The Times knew several critical facts: the F.B.I. had a sophisticated investigation underway on Trump’s organization, possibly including FISA warrants.” She goes on to explain that a source had made the Times aware of “salacious material describing an odd cross-continental dance between Trump and Moscow. The most damning claim was that Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to hack Democratic computers, an allegation with implications of treason.”
The story in question got as far as being written in draft form, but “with the F.B.I. discouraging publication, editors decided to hold their fire.” The story was ultimately quashed by NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet. Eventually the story was in fact published, “but only after other news outlets had gone first.”
She concludes her takedown of her own newspaper by asking the following question: “It’s hard not to wonder what impact such information might have had on voters still evaluating the candidates, an issue I chided The Times for not pursuing enough in an earlier column. Would more sources have come forward? Would we already know the essential facts?”
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report