In an effort to obtain juicy anti-Trump leaks, the New York Times is soliciting such information from government employees, encouraging them to divulge information with the promise of anonymity, Breitbart reports, citing emails it obtained.
An email from New York Times (NYT) energy and environment correspondent Coral Davenport to John J. O’Grady, the president of the AFGE Council in Chicago which represents Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers, shows Davenport throwing bait at O’Grady, hoping he’d bite.
Davenport goes on to promise anonymity for any leakers.
Davenport then provides her contact information and encourages any wannabe leakers to text, call, email, or contact her on the encrypted phone apps WhatsApp or Signal.
However, she continues the email even after providing her details, brainstorming how her goal could be accomplished with O’Grady’s help.
In an effort to reassure O’Grady that she knows what she’s doing, she tells him that “we’ve already done this in a number of other stories this year…” going on to give four examples, all of which were critical of the Trump administration or EPA head Scott Pruitt.
Davenport then tells O’Grady to “feel free” to distribute her email around to anyone who may want to share stories with her.
Much to Davenport’s delight, O’Grady does just that, forwarding Davenport’s email to 34 EPA employees.
About half of the email addresses used by O’Grady were personal addresses of EPA employees, rather than their work emails. O’Grady’s email was also a personal one. That fact is particularly ironic, Breitbart notes, considering Davenport was seeking evidence of government employees “refusing to use official email.”
However, a spokeswoman for the New York Times has maintained that the newspaper has done nothing wrong, implying that Davenport was merely going about her everyday journalistic tasks.
“The email demonstrates the process of reporting and gathering facts,” Rhoades-Ha told Breitbart in an email.
Political analyst Charles Ortel told RT that there’s a big difference between Davenport’s actions and those of a reporter who is simply trying to dig deeper into something they discovered themselves.
“When a journalist in effect colludes with member of the government bureaucracy to seek out stories that are damaging to one flank, one political wing, or one section of a political party, that’s a lot different from seeing trouble yourself and trying to get to the real bottom of the issue…” Ortel said.
“It sure looks to me like in the reporting that I saw on Breitbart and also the reaction to it, what you saw there were journalists trying to provoke bureaucrats into providing kernels of information that can be used to slam a political group or figure with which they disagree,” he said, adding that such actions describe a “political action organization rather than a true journalist.”
The revelations come as President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions crack down on leakers, wish Sessions saying last week that “we will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country.”
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a stern warning for anyone considering leaking information.
“If you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you to the full extent of the law, and you will not be happy with the result.”
The New York Times has long been a foe of Trump, who has taken to Twitter to slam the newspaper as “fake news” and “failing” on a regular basis.
“The failing @nytimes, which has made every wrong prediction about me including my big election win (apologized), is totally inept!” the president wrote on Monday.
“Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!” he tweeted in January.
“Really disgusting that the failing New York Times allows dishonest writers to totally fabricate stories,” Trump wrote while campaigning for president in January 2016.