Long before The New York Times began its review of the reporting in her critically acclaimed podcast, the paper was aware of deep concerns about star correspondent Rukmini Callimachi’s work, including from the family of James Foley, the American journalist brutally killed by ISIS in 2014.
“She left our family with a lot of pain from her un-professionalism and lies,” James’ brother Michael Foley told The Daily Beast in an email.
Last Friday, Canadian law enforcement arrested Shehroze Chaudhry, a 25-year-old Canadian man who claimed for years that he had worked as an executioner in the Islamic State. Chaudhry became a source of public fascination after attracting media attention from major outlets including The Times, which told his story in the multi-part investigative podcast series Caliphate, hosted by Callimachi, a Pulitzer finalist and foreign correspondent for the paper.
Canadian authorities now claim that Chaudhry, better known by his alias Abu Huzayfah, fabricated his story, and have charged him with concocting a terrorist hoax. And while the story raised eyebrows among some of the rank-and-file staff at the paper of record, Friday’s arrest was not the first time the Times has been forced to take a closer look at Callimachi’s reporting.
Walter Duranty. Andrew Rosenthal. Jayson Blair. Possibly Jill “I do not record. I’ve never recorded” Abramson. Nikole Hannah-Jones. And now possibly Callimachi as well. When asked about the Washington Post’s 1981 fabulist, Janet Cooke, the late Tom Wolfe told his interviewer:
It reminded me of when I first went to work on the New York Herald Tribune and they were still laughing over the ship-of-sin scandal from prohibition days. An informant had told the Herald Tribune that there was a ship of sin operating outside of a three-mile limit off of eastern Long Island. On board you could get liquor and dope and sex. So the Tribune sent a reporter out. He didn’t find the ship, but he did find a saloon in Montauk, and he phoned in about five days’ worth of the most lurid stories in the history of drunk newspapermen. Half of New York City gasped and the other half rushed out to eastern Long Island to rent motor launches, until it was discovered he had made up the whole thing. These things happen about every three or four years; some reporter gets caught piping a story out of his skull…Phony stories are going to be written every once in a while, so long as you give reporters the trust that you have to give them.
But they do seem to happen on quite a regular basis at the Gray Lady.
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