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NYT Reporter At Center Of ‘Almost Entirely Wrong’ Story Has Been Called Out Before

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Michael Schmidt, the author of a New York Times story former FBI Director James Comey dismissed as “almost entirely wrong” during his bombshell testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has earned rebukes from FBI for inaccurate reporting in the past.

The paper of record reported Feb. 14 that U.S. intelligence agencies had intercepted and reviewed the communications of senior Trump aides, and concluded that several of the president’s confidants had contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Comey told the Senate panel Thursday that the story was false, and prompted him to consult colleagues in law enforcement to be sure he had not been left out of the loop.

“Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton asked.

“Yes,” Comey replied.

The incident marks the second time in recent history that Comey has impugned Schmidt’s reporting. Schmidt co-bylined a piece in the Times on Dec. 12, 2015 purporting to show that American customs and immigration officials had failed to review the social media posts of San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik before she entry in the country from Pakistan. The posts, the Times reported, plainly evince her support for violent jihad and Islamic extremism.

Comey asserted the piece was a “garble” and subsequent reporting showed that no such social media posts exist.

The Times’ public editor, Margret Sullivan, wrote that the story — anchored by anonymous sources — was a failure on every level.

“It involved a failure of sufficient skepticism at every level of the reporting and editing process — especially since the story in question relied on anonymous government sources, as too many Times articles do,” she said. She went on to criticize the paper for its over reliance on unnamed sources, and for failing to verify the existence of the alleged posts.

“If this isn’t a red alert, I don’t know what will be,” she added.

Joshua Hunt, a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in various outlets, pointed out on Twitter that the Times recently eliminated the public editor position, hobbling public confidence in the paper’s ability to internally correct its procedures.

He went on to say that he would not believe future stories informed by anonymous sources which appear under Schmidt’s byline.

The Times has corrected its piece concerning the San Bernardino shooting, but stands by its story of Feb. 14.

Schmidt has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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