After publishing an article smearing the Trump administration for corruption, the New York Times issued a correction that invalidated its entire premise.
The New York Times reported July 6 that after influential lobbyist David Urban got the CEO of defense contractor Raytheon a special meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the U.S. State Department issued an emergency waiver dodging a congressional emergency hold on Raytheon’s arms sales. The Times presented this as evidence of lobbyists’ “outsize influence” in Washington and “the hollowness of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to ‘drain the swamp.’” Urban, the Times reported, backs President Trump, aided Pompeo in acquiring his Cabinet position, and retains clients such as Raytheon.
It turns out that wasn’t what happened. While Urban requested the meeting for the CEO, Thomas A. Kennedy, before the waiver was issued in May, the meeting between Pompeo and Kennedy didn’t occur until June.
CORRECTION: I reported that @SecPompeo met with Raytheon’s CEO before issuing an emergency waiver that circumvented a congressional hold on Raytheon arms sales.
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) July 9, 2020
The New York Times spent more than 2,000 words pontificating about the special interest atmosphere in Washington, running through a list of lobbyists who are helping the Trump campaign. Buried in the story is the concession that “[t]here is a long tradition of Washington lobbyists and consultants in both parties assisting campaigns, which helps ensure their continued access to the corridors of power.”
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Considering the July 9 correction, it’s unclear what’s newsworthy about a meeting that occurred between a corporate defense executive and the secretary of state after the waiver was issued, permitting billions of dollars in Raytheon arms sales to go to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Urban could not have had “outsize influence” in shaping a decision that was made before the meeting he arranged.
Reporter Kenneth P. Vogel, one of the article’s co-authors, noted the crucial correction, which came three days after the article was initially published, on Twitter, where it received little attention.
“After Mr. Urban later sought the meeting for Raytheon, the State Department issued the emergency declaration overriding the congressional block and the arms sales proceeded,” the article now reads. “The meeting happened weeks later. Mr. Urban did not attend.”
This seems to be a pattern for the New York Times, and much of the mainstream media, wherein it reports false information that cuts against Republicans and conservatives, only later to issue little-seen corrections to fix their erroneous “reporting” after having already influenced public opinion.