8/27/15: Critique of July, 2015 NTY Article, “Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email”

Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email, a New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo attempts to explain the Hillary Clinton email scandal, however, their blunder involving facts about the Justice Department’s investigation, a criminal investigation in fact, was false.

Government officials are regulated by a set of checks and balances. These checks and balances, originally put into place by the First Amendment to the constitution, still hold standard today, even in our ever-changing technological times. During her time as the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Hillary Clinton had a personal email account. This fact came to light early on in her Presidential Campaign for the 2016 election. According to the article, the problem was not that she had the account; the problem was that she allegedly used that account to share classified information, an accusation that Clinton has vehemently denied. The Justice Department has not decided whether or not to open a full criminal investigation into the accusations, but in the meantime, Clinton has released the full account for review; a total of 55,000 pages. When read once, the article seems, for the most part informative and relatively non-bias, including quotes from the Clinton administration as well as ones from the State Department, and more, some criticizing the State Department’s handling of the controversy. But, upon further examination, and after reading through the two very critical corrections made by the Times in the days following the publication of this article, it is clear that there are major factual errors involved. One major falsity addressed in the correction was that the Justice Department had requested access to Clinton’s emails while she was in office. This is not true. There was an inquiry, but not one directed specifically to Hillary Clinton. The other correction addresses concerns with the wording of the article. The original article called the request, made by the Justice Department for more information regarding, “possible mishandling of classified information,” a “criminal referral” instead of what it actually was: a “security referral.”The issue of wording is article that can be linked back to bias of the author or in this case, authors. Calling this case “criminal” gives implications to the public that are very difficult to undo. The authors were seemingly thorough in their investigation, but not in their fact-checking and their wording. I do not see this article as an argument for or against Clinton. It is informative and indicative of the facts that were available at the time of its publication. I thought it was well-written, and contained no grammatical errors that I found. The flow of the article itself was a bit choppy, but this could be explained by having two authors on the story. However, it should have been smoothed over by Editors, and even more importantly, fact checked by Editors before publication. It is cases such as this that make the public leery of the media, as well as politicians and government. Who are they to believe? If a newspaper as prestigious and time-honored as the New York Times can make such a blunder on such a high-profile case, is any publication absolutely safe?

My general opinion of the work is that it was written well for the most part, and that the authors made an attempt at thorough research. However, the two major facts that were wrong in this article made a controversial issue for the Times. This, along with other corrections of other publications teaches us, as young journalist to always check our sources, and our writing over and over again.


Original NYT Article