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New York Times admits to spreading fake news with Caliphate podcasts that turned out to be fiction
12/23/2020 // Ethan Huff // Views

The core of The New York Times's hit 2018 podcast series Caliphate was retracted after the fake news outlet discovered that the man it had relied upon for the program's narrative is not a reliable source of truth.

The Times has already reassigned Rukmini Callimachi, its star terrorism reporter, to a different beat, and Shehroze Chaudhry, the alleged terrorism expert who told his story through Caliphate, is currently facing criminal charges in a federal court in Ontario for allegedly perpetrating a terrorism hoax.

"We fell in love with the fact that we had gotten a member of ISIS who would describe his life in the caliphate and would describe his crimes," Times executive editor Dean Baquet told NPR.

"I think we were so in love with it that when we saw evidence that maybe he was a fabulist, when we saw evidence that he was making some of it up, we didn't listen hard enough."

As it turns out, Chaudhry may not have ever joined the Islamic State. He also may not have been an executioner for the extremist group has he claimed to the Times.

Even so, Chaudhry's tales captivated the listening audience so much that the Caliphate series was featured at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Tex., in March 2018.

"Caliphate represents the modern New York Times," announced Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor, about the project.

"It's ambitious, rigorous, hard-nosed reporting combined with first-rate digital storytelling. We're taking our audience to dangerous places they have never been, and we're doing it with more transparency than we ever have before."


More related news about mainstream media deception can be found at Faked.news.

This is just more proof that the Times cannot be trusted

Almost immediately after the program was launched, Caliphate started receiving awards and other acclaim, not to mention a slew of new listeners who paid to hear it. Callimachi launched into the journalistic stratosphere, while Chaudhry, speaking under the pseudonym of Abu Huzayfah, captivated the audience with stories about the atrocities he supposedly witnessed in Syria as a member of ISIS.

"He gave us a gift with the story," Callimachi told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in May 2018. "It's an eye-opening account of his passage through the Islamic State."

Prior to the official release of the podcast, Chaudhry had apparently told Canadian news outlets that he had, in fact, traveled to Syria in 2014 to join ISIS. However, he denied playing any role in the killings.

To the Times, though, Chaudhry had somehow admitted to conducting executions, showing a serious error in judgment and accuracy. Chaudhry did, however, claim during one episode of Caliphate that he killed two civilians during an uproar, which he later denied.

It was ultimately determined that Chaudhry could not be trusted, but it was already too late: Caliphate had become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and had also won a Peabody award, which is one of the highest distinctions in broadcast journalism.

The Times had attempted to lay low on Chaudhry's story until it could do so no longer this past fall, which is when Chaudhry was arrested. Canadian officials charged him with lying about his participation in terrorist activities.

Caliphate also underwent an investigative review, which ultimately determined that Callimachi and her editors had repeatedly failed to push hard enough to verify Chaudhry's claims.

"They came back and said, 'If you look at the guy's story, there is not enough powerful evidence that he was who he claimed to be for us to justify that story," Baquet admitted.

Be sure to check out the full NPR story about Caliphate and the Times' failure to vet its own sources at this link.

Sources for this article include:



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