When the New York Times audio documentary “Caliphate” won the Peabody Award, Times executive editor Dean Baquet took a victory lap, saying: “‘Caliphate’ was one of the best works of journalism of the year, created by a team of fearless journalists who shed new light on something as complex as ISIS and terrorism.” There was just one problem: “Caliphate” was largely based on the recollections of Shehroze Chaudhry, who admitted in Canadian court Friday that he made up the stories he told the Times’ “fearless journalists” about having been an Islamic State executioner. Rather than being “one of the best works of journalism,” “Caliphate” is actually the newest in a long string of object lessons proving that the New York Times is not a reliable news source. The newspaper is really a far-Left propaganda organ that cannot be trusted even when it is not retailing Democratic party agitprop.
In exchange for his admission, prosecutors dropped charges of a terrorism hoax against Chaudhry, apparently accepting the assertion of the fake terrorist’s lawyer, Nader R. Hasan, who said the stories Chaudhry told that fooled the Times were “mistakes borne out of immaturity — not sinister intent and certainly not criminal intent.”
Yes, of course. He likely became a fake terrorist because he knew that the Times, and particularly its star counterterror “journalist,” Rukmini Callimachi, would eat up the stories he would tell and publish them uncritically. After all, it wasn’t as if he was pretending to have been someone the Times really hates and fears, such as a right-wing Trump supporter. Nonetheless, Chaudhry’s lies caused a furor. According to the Times, “the release of that series in 2018, and other reports based on Mr. Chaudhry’s tales, created a political firestorm in Canada’s Parliament among opposition parties that repeatedly attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government for seeming to allow a terrorist killer to freely roam the streets of suburban Toronto.”
No one knew it, since the revered New York Times, after all, had presented Chaudhry’s claims as fact, but the people of Toronto never had anything to worry about. The court heard on Friday that “Mr. Chaudhry has never entered Syria nor participated in ISIS operations anywhere in the world.”
After Chaudhry was arrested for his hoax, the Times took a new look at its award-winning documentary and, lo and behold, found “a history of misrepresentations by Mr. Chaudhry and no corroboration that he committed the atrocities he described in the ‘Caliphate’ podcast.” Danielle Rhoades Ha of the Times admitted that “Times journalists were too credulous about the verification steps that were undertaken and dismissive of the lack of corroboration of essential aspects of Mr. Chaudhry’s account.”
But fear not: It won’t happen again! “Since that time, we’ve introduced new practices to prevent similar lapses,” said Ha. That’s a laugh. The fact is that the “Caliphate” hoax is just another in a long line of fake stories that the New York Times, contrary to its reputation as the paper of record and flagship of journalistic accuracy, has published over the decades.
Back in the 1930s, the paper showed a decided taste for totalitarian dictators and mass killers. On July 9, 1933, the Times published a fawning puff piece on Adolf Hitler. Pulitzer Prize-winning Times “journalist” Anne O’Hare McCormick gushed: “At first sight, the dictator of Germany seems a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller. His sun-browned face is full and is the mobile face of an orator.” She added: “His eyes are almost the color of the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid. He appears untired and unworried. His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit.” What’s more, “Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.”
Six years later, the Times repeated Nazi propaganda about how Poland had invaded Germany, not the other way around, as Hitler’s armies began the invasion that started World War II. The Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Walter Duranty also notoriously repeated Soviet propaganda downplaying and denying the Ukrainian famine.
Demonstrating that virtually nothing has changed since then, the Times in August 2021 called Osama bin Laden a “devoted family man.” With that kind of moral compass and disregard for inconvenient aspects of the stories it covers, i.e., those that do not fit the Leftist narrative, it’s no wonder that the Times was taken in by Shehroze Chaudhry and published his lies without making any effort to establish his veracity. With the New York Times, what gets printed is what confirms, or at least does not disconfirm, the establishment Left’s narrative. All else gets ignored or denied outright.
That’s not how a news outlet is supposed to behave. That’s the way a propaganda organ behaves, and that’s what the New York Times is.