After Forming Clinton Cash "Exclusives," NY Times, Washington Post Fail To Report On Book's Errors

After Forming Clinton Cash "Exclusives," NY Times, Washington Post Fail To Report On Book's Errors

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Ever since Peter Schweizer's new attack book Clinton Cash was touted as the must-read tome of the campaign season, a growing number of media organizations, including Politico, BuzzFeed, ABC News, FactCheck.org, and Time, have detailed factual shortcomings in the book. (Media Matters has, too.) Noticeably absent from that fact-checking procession has been The New York Times and the Washington Post, the two newspapers that entered into exclusive editorial agreements with Clinton Cash's publisher.

The Times' and Post's seeming lack of interest in detailing the book's long list of misstatements certainly raises questions about whether the papers' exclusive pacts made the dailies reluctant to highlight Clinton Cash's obvious shortcomings.

After all, if those other media organizations can find the Clinton Cash errors, why can't the Times and the Post? And even if Times and Post reporters can't spot the misinformation, why aren't they at least writing about the key revelations that others are uncovering? Recall that it was the Times that trumpeted Clinton Cash as the "the most anticipated and feared book" of the campaign season. If it's so important, why isn't the Times documenting the crucial errors found between the Clinton Cash covers? 

By entering into exclusive agreements, both the Times and the Post used Clinton Cash as the basis for larger investigative articles that raised questions about the Clintons' finances.

Hyped by its publisher -- the Rupert Murdoch-owned HarperCollins -- as being "meticulously researched and scrupulously sourced," Clinton Cash has instead turned out to be a mishmash of allegations glued together by innuendo and falsehoods. That, according to an array of news outlets that have documented the book's shortcomings.  

From ABC:

An independent review of source material by ABC News uncovered errors in the book, including an instance where paid and unpaid speaking appearances were conflated. Schweizer said the errors would be corrected.

BuzzFeed:

Bill Clinton was not paid for several speeches as reported in a forthcoming book about his family's foundation, spokespeople for the former president said Tuesday.

Politico:

While Clinton's stance toward India evolved over the years, a review of then-Sen. Clinton's statements and votes while the Indian nuclear deal was under debate shows that one of the key facts in Schweizer's argument on the topic is false -- Clinton actually publicly stated her support for the deal in 2006. Another is in dispute.

FactCheck.org:

The author of "Clinton Cash" falsely claimed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State had "veto power" and "could have stopped" Russia from buying a company with extensive uranium mining operations in the U.S. In fact, only the president has such power.

And Media Matters:

Princeton Lyman, who served as an ambassador under Republican and Democratic administrations, has rebuked Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer for taking his comments about the Clinton Foundation's work "badly out of context."

Meanwhile, US News described Clinton Cash as a "somewhat problematic" look at the Clinton's financial dealings, Time noted that a central claim was "based on little evidence," and even Fox News' Chris Wallace told Schweizer he didn't "have a single piece of evidence" to support his claim about Hillary Clinton changing U.S. policy based on donations to the Clinton Foundation. 

On and on goes as news outlets detail Clinton Cash's factual inadequacies. Yet the Times and Post remain mum about the book's deficiencies.  

Note that when the controversial exclusive alliances were announced, representatives for both dailies insisted they were merely using the book as a kind of "tip sheet", and nothing more.

Defending its alliance, the Post's Chris Cillizza wrote, "We are information-gatherers at heart. Our job as reporters and editors and, more broadly as an organization, is to vet all of the information that comes at us to see what should be reported, what shouldn't and what needs to be followed-up on."

But isn't there an assumption that if the Post found Clinton Cash to be filled with errors the Post would report that fact? Isn't that part of Cillizza's job as an information gatherer?

Instead, just three days ago, the Post's The Fix was still touting the significance of Clinton Cash, stressing why readers ought to pay attention to it. The write-up included no mention of the steady stream of revelations about factual missteps in the book.

In truth, the two newspapers' Clinton Cash alliances look worse with each passing day. Forming a pact for a hyper-partisan book published by Rupert Murdoch from an author with a resume that's anchored by a career of corrections, retractions, and errors? Making matters worse now is what appears to be the Times and Post ignoring a laundry list of documented errors as Clinton Cash approaches its publication date.

The sloppy work comes no surprise to anyone familiar with Schweizer's career. Over the years, here's how some reporters have described his work:

"Incorrect," "inaccurate," "bogus," "a fatal shortcoming in Journalism 101," "the facts didn't stand up," "unfair and inaccurate," "specious argument," "there was nothing there," "suspicious," "the facts don't fit," facts "do not check out," sources "do not exist or cannot be tracked down," "confusion and contradiction," "discrepancies," "admitted a mistake," "neither journalism nor history," "a polemic so unchecked ... that we can't tell the fact from the fiction," sources "have clearly used him," and "tacitly conced[ed] he was wrong."

Despite those red flags, the Times and the Post forged ahead with Clinton Cash exclusives. The story today is about what a sloppy job Schweizer did assembling the book's anti-Clinton allegations. For some reason, the Times and the Post don't seem interested in detailing that development.

Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, The New York Times
Person
Peter Schweizer
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