In a shocking display of disregard for journalistic integrity by the former “paper of record,” the New York Times has decided not to fire a reporter who slept with her government.
“After careful examination and discussion, I have decided to reassign her to a position in New York for a fresh start, where she will be closely supervised and have a senior mentor,” says an internal memo. “We also intend to tighten our job candidate screening process to ensure that significant questions make their way to the newsroom leadership for full discussion — which did not happen in this case.”
The Times will not fire Watkins, but assured its readers that they are committed to journalistic integrity.
“We hold our journalists and their work to the highest standards,” says the memo. “We are giving Ali an opportunity to show that she can live up to them. I believe she can. I also believe that The Times must be a humane place that can allow for second chances when there are mitigating circumstances.”
Executive Editor Dan Baquet wrote the memo.
The Times also criticized the government’s handling of the situation.
“As an institution, we abhor the actions of the government in this case,” the memo said. “Without notice, investigators rummaged through years of a journalist’s phone and email records, an intrusion that puts First Amendment protections at risk and violated Justice Department guidelines that have bipartisan support.”
Watkins’ source stands accused of lying about leaking classified intelligence.
A New York Times reporter had her phone and email records seized after her lover, a staff member for the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) was arrested for lying to the FBI during an investigation into the leak of classified information.
Reporter Ali Watkins had a three-year relationship with James A. Wolfe, longtime director of security for the SSCI. He is alleged to have made false statements to the FBI regarding his relationship with three reporters in connection to the Carter Page case.
“It appeared that the F.B.I. was investigating how Ms. Watkins learned that Russian spies in 2013 had tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser,” according to the New York Times.
BLP Passage Ends.
The scandal does not help the image of the struggling paper. A recent Harvard Harris Poll shows that 65 percent of Americans believe that the mainstream media reports “a lot of fake news.”
While Watkins may be getting a fresh start, the Times’ credibility is not.
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