Vox's Jonathan Allen suggested that House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy knew about the request to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's email practices “at least a day” before The New York Times published its botched story relying on anonymous sources that “had it wrong” according to “a top-ranking editor directly involved” with the report.
On July 23, the Times published a report headlined “Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use Of Email” which stated that "[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state." The Times has since issued two corrections, acknowledging that the referral in question was not criminal and did not specifically request an investigation into Clinton herself. They have yet to correct the piece's remaining error to indicate that the referral was actually made by only one inspector general.
The Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column examining the problems with the error-riddled story, and acknowledged that the paper should have a discussion not only about increasing transparency, but also about its use of anonymous sources: “In my view, that must also include the rampant use of anonymous sources, and the need to slow down and employ what might seem an excess of caution before publishing a political blockbuster based on shadowy sources.” According to Sullivan, a “a top-ranking editor directly involved with the story” explained “We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong.”
In a July 28 Vox article, Jonathan Allen reported that Gowdy was “fully aware” of the request to the Justice Department before the Times broke its story, and noted that “Gowdy's team has been accused of leaking something untrue to a reporter before”:
I don't know who the Times's sources are, but I do know this: My reporting suggests that House Benghazi Committee Chair Trey Gowdy was fully aware of the request to the Justice Department at least a day before the Times broke the story. If he or his staff were sources, it should have been incumbent upon the Times to check every detail with multiple unconnected sources. Gowdy's team has been accused of leaking something untrue to a reporter before.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member on the House Select Committee on Benghazi essentially suggested on MSNBC's Hardball that Republicans on the Benghazi Committee were responsible for faulty information, and has previously criticized the “reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks” a claim supported by numerous examples.
Matt Gertz contributed to this blog