Escalating its confrontation with The New York Times, Hillary Clinton’s campaign made public a nearly 2,000-word letter it sent to the paper’s top editor this week complaining of “egregious” errors in a recent story falsely reporting that Clinton was flagged for a potential criminal investigation.
“I feel obliged to put into context just how egregious an error this story was,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote in the letter to Times executive editor Dean Baquet. “We remain perplexed by The Times’ slowness to acknowledge its errors after the fact, and some of the shaky justifications that Times’ editors have made.”
Clinton’s campaign said they sent the letter on Tuesday, but that the Times refused to publish it and declined to comment on the letter to Politico, which first reported on the letter.
The Times has come under fire from Clinton allies and some media watchdogs for its handling of a seemingly blockbuster story on Clinton’s emails that quickly fell apart.
Late last Thursday night, the paper published a story reporting that two inspectors general recommended the Department of Justice open a criminal investigation into Clinton over her handling of sensitive information on her private email server. The Department of Justice initially confirmed the information.
However, it turned out there was no potential criminal investigation and Clinton was likely not the target. Instead, the inspectors generals issued a relatively routine alert that classified information ended up on Clinton’s server – a violation of security protocol, but a far less severe one than initially reported. And the information seems to have been sent to Clinton, rather than by her.
The New York Times' public editor later wrote that the initial story was “fraught with inaccuracies,” and a “mess” that never should have been published.
After the New York Times published their original story, officials at the Department of Justice confirmed the original information to NBC News. As soon as DOJ notified us that their information was wrong, we re-wrote the story, changed the headline and text, and added an editor’s note for full transparency.
On Thursday, one week from the story’s publishing, Clinton’s campaign took the unusual step of publishing it in full on their website. The move suggests the campaign sees benefit in re-elevating the issue, as it may sow doubt about any future email stories.