The Washington Post and New York Times were forced to issue major retractions this weekend after falsely reporting that Rudy Giuliani was warned by the FBI that he was a target of a Russian disinformation campaign during the 2020 presidential election.
During its original report about the FBI’s raid of Guiliani’s New York City apartment, the Post claimed the intelligence agency warned Giuliani in late 2019 that he “was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Joe Biden.”
The Post claimed One America News Network received a similar warning.
The New York Times also ran with this claim, writing in its report about the FBI’s raid that Giuliani had received a “defensive briefing” in which FBI agents were “cautioning him that some of the information he was pushing on the Biden family was tainted by Russian intelligence’s efforts to spread disinformation.”
Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, denied both reports as “totally false.”
“[Giuliani] never received any such briefing,” Costello said in a statement.
Both publications were forced to correct their original reports.
At the top of its report, the Post included an editor’s note that states, “Correction: An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation. That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.”
The Times initially edited out its claims about Giuliani and OAN without including an editor’s note explaining the correction.
Only after facing pushback did the publication include an editor’s note at the bottom of its story, which states, “An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing.”
Before and after in NYT’s story. The NYT story does not include a retraction or acknowledgment that the reporting on a defensive briefing was removed. https://t.co/EV5N7XXTSk pic.twitter.com/jpdAQ4QLKf
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 1, 2021