On June 5th, New York Times journalist Julian Barnes corrected his April report claiming that CIA Director Gina Haspel showed pictures of dead ducks and sick children to US President Donald Trump.
I made a significant error in my April 16 profile of Gina Haspel. It took a while to figure out where I went wrong. Here is the correction: 1/9 pic.twitter.com/T27mHL0Knq
— Julian E. Barnes (@julianbarnes) June 5, 2019
In a long tweet he admitted his “significant error” in having said that CIA Chief Gina Haspel had shown her spy prowess in persuading Trump to expel 60 Russian diplomats by showing them alleged photographs of dead ducks and sick children, poisoned in the alleged Novichok nerve agent attack on Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
“There are—so far as we know—no pictures of dead ducks or sickened kids. Haspel did show pictures to Trump, but they were about the effects of nerve agents in general, they were not specific to the attack in the UK.”
But Haspel, according to the new version of events, did not brief Haspel on the supposed intelligence that ducks and children were poisoned.
Local UK health officials deny that any animals or children were sickened, as British officials pointed out soon after our story published, mostly due to a report by The Guardian.
The initial report of dead ducks and sick children was based on “an early intelligence report,” according to anonymous sources familiar with the matter. And it was, supposedly presented to Trump by the UK to try and persuade him into expelling diplomats.
It took nearly two months to admit the mistake and correct because “conducting the research to figure out what I got wrong, how I got it wrong and what was the correct information took time.” Despite the Guardian getting it right on April 18th, two days after the initial report.
“I regret the error and offer my apology. I strive to get information right the first time. That is what subscribers pay for. But when I get something wrong, I fix it.”
Users on Twitter showed mixed response to the revelation, with some asking if Barnes had doubts about the story and if he did, why was it published.
Others praised the “integrity of journalism” in the US, because he admitted his mistake and corrected it. There was no mention of the “integrity of journalism” when an unconfirmed and later disproved narrative was reported as fact.
No. It shows shoot-first, ask-questions-later.
Until skepticism is the first reflex of media, it will continue to be what it is now: a tool of the worst impulses of the powerful.
Time to drop the childish faith in Western officialdom.
— Glenn May (@troutcor) June 6, 2019
In the NYT, the story was corrected but the caption under an image was not, still claiming that the attack poisoned Sergei, Yulia, ducks and children.
Reports shortly after the alleged Novichok nerve agent attack on Skripal claimed that three children were indeed hospitalized after feeding ducks in a Salisbury park with the Skripals, but blood tests revealed that the children were fine.
One of the boys reportedly even ate some of the bread gave to him by Sergei Skripal and intended as bird-food. According to UK authorities, Sergei’s hands were covered in the highly-letal Novichok nerve agent, but the child was unharmed.
In general, the entire Skripal scenario is a massive charade, the UK still maintains that Moscow organized an assassination attempt, but has no evidence and doesn’t even attempt to present any. Russia on the other hand categorically rejects all accusations.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- CIA Director Gina Haspel Lied To Trump To Push Him To Expel Russian Diplomats Following ‘Novichok Attack’
- Michael Antony: “The Alternative Skripal Narrative”