Special Counsel John Durham, leading a multi-year probe of how U.S. intelligence officials conducted the Russia investigation, has yet to issue his final report. But according to the New York Times, Durham has already come up empty.
Durham’s team, the Times declared in a widely circulated Jan. 26 article, has gone “unsuccessfully down one path after another” and ultimately “failed to find wrongdoing in the origins of the Russia inquiry.” The three bylined reporters, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner, base their conclusion on a “monthslong review,” including interviews “with more than a dozen current and former officials.”
Yet a review of the trio’s reporting shows that the Times is still engaging in the same journalistic behavior that has made the paper a reliable disseminator of discredited innuendo about a conspiracy between Donald Trump and Russia. By omitting countervailing information and distorting the available facts, the Times article does not set the record straight. Instead, it attempts to write off the Durham probe before its findings have been released, and whitewashes Russiagate’s key actors in the FBI and Clinton campaign long after they have been exposed.
The article fits into a larger pattern of malfeasance in the Times’ Russiagate coverage, which RCI has documented and the Columbia Journalism Review recently highlighted at length. RCI found, among other shortcomings, a failure to correct clear errors, the use of misleading language to minimize and sanitize the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory, and the refusal to acknowledge broader missteps, especially those involving anonymous sources who turned out to be deceitful. The Times’ failures are especially consequential because of the newspaper’s unique role in framing broader news narratives. That its Russiagate reporting shared journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize, underscores a media dysfunction that extends beyond this single influential organization. …