The Clinton campaign, which requested the corrections in the first place, seized on those small inconsistencies and attempted to use them to discredit the entire story. The campaign wrote a nearly 2,000-word public letter to the Times demanding an explanation for the “egregious” story and attacking the paper’s “apparent abandonment of standard journalistic practices.”
Liberal media outlets were more than happy to join in the pile-on. Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald declared the Times guilty of “a level of recklessness that borders on, well, criminal behavior.” The Atlantic called the “botched story” a “huge embarrassment” for the paper. Salon.com declared it “another shoddy Clinton smear.” Mother Jones wrote that it was an “epic screw-up.”
But former FBI director James Comey’s new book indicates that the ridiculous semantics game was even more moot than it appeared. The Times actually understated the reality: Clinton was already under criminal investigation at the time by the FBI, and yes, she was definitely the target.
“Though The Times may have thought those clarifications were necessary, their original story was much closer to the mark,” Comey writes. “It was true that the transmission to the F.B.I. from the inspector general did not use the word ‘criminal,’ but by the time of the news story, we had a full criminal investigation open, focused on the secretary’s conduct.”
Read the whole thing.