The New York Times Blew This One Big Time: An Epic Reporting Fail with Dire National Consequences
But the Tashfeen Malik mistake might be more unforgivable. The consequences of getting that one wrong are likely wider than convincing people who already hate Hillary Clinton to hate her more. To take one example, several candidates in Tuesday’s GOP debate cited the government’s failure to turn up Malik’s alleged social media postings as the product of a politically correct Obama administration’s unwillingness to do everything in its power to keep America safe. This feeds the general climate of paranoia and fear of Muslims that has taken hold in the country, particularly on the right wing, where the top presidential candidate has seen his poll numbers rise after calling for banning people like Malik from entering America. Combine that with this year’s record gun sales, concerns about jihadis using the Internet to recruit followers to their cause, and the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes since the San Bernardino shootings, and mistakes of this sort are like tossing gasoline on a fire.
The Times has a deserved reputation for being one of the world’s leading newspapers. But incidents like these two remind us that the paper also once let the George W. Bush administration make its case for invading Iraq by feeding bad information to the credulous and inexcusable Judith Miller, who then spent months splashing it across the front page. We’re also reminded that it was its correspondentJeff Gerth’s sloppy reporting during Bill Clinton’s presidency of the Whitewater controversy that led federal investigators to spend several years and millions of dollars chasing Clinton misdeeds all over Washington and Arkansas. That all those investigations ever turned up was the president lying about a blowjob is one of the more absurd spectacles in the long history of absurd spectacles in American politics.