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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Katie Robertson has a must-read piece up at The New York Times about the reaction inside the New York Post's newsroom to its shoddy hit piece on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter earlier this week. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The report was mostly written by a staff writer who refused to put their name on it, per two Post sources.
  • Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says he gave the material to the Post because he was worried other outlets would practice actual journalism: "either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out."
  • Top figures at the paper were involved in deciding how to proceed, including editor in chief Stephen Lynch, digital editor in chief Michelle Gotthelf, and adviser Colin Allan.
  • Editors at the Post pressed people there to add their name to the byline, according to two sources who spoke to Robertson.
  • Of the two bylines on the piece, we had known that Emma-Jo Morris had worked at Sean Hannity's Fox News show recently, and that her Instagram had pictures of her with figures like Hannity, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon. Robertson adds that Gabrielle Fonrouge, who had the other byline on the piece, did not know that she had a byline until after the piece went live. Robertson writes that three sources told her that Fonrouge "had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article."

The one outlet that embraced the report wholeheartedly from the get go was Fox News, which ran over 100 segments on the story in the first two and a half days, despite all the red flags.

The New York Post is the corporate cousin of Fox News, and is part of News Corp, which is run by executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch, and CEO Robert Thomson. This is how Murdoch-style journalism works.

Update: Peter Sterne at New York magazine adds more, including a number of colorful quotes of Post employees who questioned the piece:

"I think it was very flimsy," one Post reporter told Intelligencer.
Another journalist at the paper was even more blunt.
"It's not something that meets my journalistic standards," they said, adding that the piece "should not have been published."
...
"It just makes you cringe and roll your eyes, and it's hard to stomach, but at the same time we kind of know that you're signing up for stuff like that," one Post reporter said. "It's upsetting. It's disappointing. It sucks to, like, work for, like, a propaganda outlet."

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.