Misinformation Lingers After Incorrect Reporting About Giuliani, FBI
Misinformation Lingers After Incorrect Reporting About Giuliani, FBI

By Zachary Stieber

NBC, New York Times, Washington Post corrected stories about the former mayor.

Misinformation promoted by NBC and two other news outlets about Rudy Giuliani was later corrected, although some readers may remain unaware because the network failed to fully correct its reporting.

NBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post added corrections to reports that initially claimed the former New York City mayor and former President Donald Trump’s onetime personal lawyer received a warning from the FBI that he was the target of an alleged Russian intelligence influence operation.

But some social media posts promoting the information went uncorrected, including from the sole author of NBC’s piece.

NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian, who as a Los Angeles Times reporter violated that newspaper’s policy by sharing entire stories with the CIA prior to publication, hasn’t alerted his approximately 207,000 followers on Twitter that his story about Giuliani and the FBI was corrected. Neither has NBC Investigations.

Dilanian not only shared the story from the NBC Investigations account, but retweeted a tweet from “Meet the Press” that denigrated Giuliani for allegedly being briefed by the FBI but dismissing the warning, a review of his Twitter page by The Epoch Times shows.

In contrast, the main NBC account added a correction to its original post of the story; it reposted the correction it made to the article itself, alerting readers to the crucial change.

The differences are puzzling to Andrew Schotz, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Ethics Committee.

“If you are a large organization like NBC and you have multiple feeds going at the same time … it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have an error on one feed and then correct it on a different feed because you’re now possibly reaching a different audience,” he told The Epoch Times.

NBC didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The Washington Post deleted its original tweet that claimed the FBI had warned Giuliani and told readers what it did and how the story was corrected. Ellen Nakashima, one of the three reporters on the byline, also deleted her tweet on the matter and replaced it with the updated details, although the article itself still contained the apparently false information. The two other reporters haven’t alerted readers to what happened.

The Post additionally updated an analysis with a link to the correction, but the tweet that contains the false lede remains live, with no correction appended.

The New York Times had no posts about Giuliani receiving a briefing, and no tweets about its correction, making it unclear if it ever promoted the article. One of the paper’s reporters, Ken Vogel, told his roughly 117,000 followers that he and two colleagues reported Giuliani received a defensive briefing from the FBI but that, in fact, Giuliani didn’t get such a briefing. The two other reporters haven’t alerted readers to what happened.

None of the corrections contained an apology and none of the updated stories identified the sources, rankling Giuliani.

“Where did the original false information come from?” he wrote in a tweet.

The Washington Post declined to comment for this story. The New York Times didn’t respond to an inquiry.

“It’s an important topic because the public notions of corrections is that the error is on page one and the correction is on page 20. It’s kind of a cynicism that if you make an error, you’re not going to be as forthright about it,” Schotz, the SPJ ethics expert, told The Epoch Times. News organizations should make an effort to combat that notion by focusing on both correcting mistakes and informing readers of the corrections, he added.

Each of the three organizations offered different corrections.

NBC explained how its original story relied on a single anonymous source, adding that a second source had emerged to say the FBI prepared a briefing but didn’t deliver it to Giuliani. The Post went into less detail, telling readers that it was removing assertions that Giuliani had received the briefing. And the NY Times merely said its first version incorrectly said Giuliani was warned by the FBI.

NBC “peeled back a little bit of the process” while the Post “is not telling people what happened,” although they are “being very clear about their correction,” Schotz said. The NY Times had a story full of details “but at the end they just kind of plump down, ‘yeah, this was said previously, and it turns out to not be true.’ It’s not a very robust way to explain the process and how this came to be.”

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