Public radio stations rip New York Times, podcast host amid ‘Caliphate’ fallout

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A group of more than 20 public radio stations around the country have reportedly signed on to a letter to editors at The New York Times condemning the behavior of the podcast “The Daily” host Michael Barboro and producer Andy Mills.

The Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPDA) issued a letter sharply criticizing Barboro over pressure he allegedly put on journalists at other major media publications — such as The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple and NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik — to temper their criticism of the “Caliphate” podcast amid the Times’s decision to retract major parts of it last month.

“We, along with our audiences, place tremendous value on the fact that our journalism is free from influence of any kind, whether motivated by financial, political, or personal enrichment reasons,” reads the letter, which was provided to The Hill. “This is our ethical compass. We feel Barbaro’s actions are in direct conflict with our ethical guidelines and they call his general credibility into question.”

“We would just like the New York Times to admit this was a failure on their part and to work on remedying the situation,” the president of the group, Abby Goldstein, added to NPR.

The Times’s Assistant Managing Editor Sam Dolnick responded with his own letter shared Tuesday with The Hill, explaining that the Times had expressed to Barboro their expectations for his conduct going forward, and added that Barboro “deeply regrets” his actions.

The PRPDA letter also questioned the continued presence of Mills at the “Daily” podcast following reports in recent days about his behavior towards female colleagues; Mills has been accused by women in multiple newsrooms of making demeaning or dismissive comments indicating that he believed female journalists were less skilled.

Dolnick responded to those allegations as well in his letter to the PRPDA, explaining that the Times’s editors “take very seriously” the allegations against him and will take appropriate action if it is deemed necessary.

The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, admitted last month that the paper did not put the “Caliphate” podcast and one of its central figures, a Canadian man now charged with lying about being an executioner for the Islamic State, through the “tremendous amount of scrutiny” with which it usually approaches major stories.

“We did not do that in this case,” Baquet said. “And I think that I or somebody else should have provided that same kind of scrutiny, because it was a big, ambitious piece of journalism. And I did not provide that kind of scrutiny, nor did my top deputies with deep experience in examining investigative reporting.”


Tags caliphate ISIS Islamic State The New York Times

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