HOAX: New York Occasions ISIS Audio Collection Primarily based on a Phony Terrorist


The New York Occasions has a large egg on its face as a prize-winning audio sequence has collapsed underneath a weight of falsehoods. David Rutz of Fox News reported their 12-part sequence “Caliphate” closely relied on a serial fabulist who claimed to have been a member of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. Reporter Rukmini Callimachi drew a Pulitzer Prize finalist citation and introduced the newspaper its first Peabody audio award.

The primary 5 episodes of the sequence advised the (phony) story of 1 Abu Hufayzah, the alias of Canadian citizen Shehroze Chaudhry. In September, Canadian authorities arrested Chaudhry, accusing him of concocting terrorist actions in media interviews, together with these he described on “Caliphate.”

Occasions govt editor Dean Baquet confessed to NPR media reporter David Folkenflik that the enchantment of getting a “terrorist” to speak was too tempting:

“We fell in love with the truth that we had gotten a member of ISIS who would describe his life within the caliphate and would describe his crimes,” Baquet stated. “I feel we have been so in love with it that once we noticed proof that perhaps he was a fabulist, once we noticed proof that he was making a few of it up, we did not hear onerous sufficient.”

An inner investigation has led to the lead reporter on the story, Callimachi, getting reassigned to a brand new beat. Callimachi additionally had two editor’s notes positioned on previous tales from 2014 and 2019 that contained reporting errors.

“She’s going to tackle a brand new beat, and she or he and I are discussing prospects,” Baquet stated. “I feel it’s onerous to proceed overlaying terrorism after what occurred with this story. However I feel she’s a nice reporter.” 

Baquet claimed “this failing wasn’t about anyone reporter. I feel this was an institutional failing.” However this is not the type of generosity the Occasions would present to a politician who deliberately or unintentionally perpetrated a hoax. An extensive correction blamed broader processes on the newspaper:

From the outset, “Caliphate” ought to have had the common participation of an editor skilled in the subject material. As well as, The Occasions ought to have pressed more durable to confirm Mr. Chaudhry’s claims earlier than deciding to put a lot emphasis on one particular person’s account. For instance, reporters and editors might have vetted extra completely supplies Mr. Chaudhry offered for proof that he had traveled to Syria to affix the Islamic State, and pushed more durable and earlier to find out what the authorities knew about him. It’s also clear that components of the unique fact-checking course of weren’t sufficiently rigorous: Occasions journalists have been too credulous in regards to the verification steps that have been undertaken and dismissive of the shortage of corroboration of important points of Mr. Chaudhry’s account.

This complete fiasco is a humiliation for a paper whose motto is “The reality is extra essential now than ever.”