AceShowbiz - Editors at the New York Times have been forced to admit elements of a reportedly factual award-winning podcast series are untrue.
The wildly popular 2018 series, "Caliphate", was headed by one of the esteemed publication's leading reporters on terrorism, Rukmini Callimachi, who also hosted the project.
But now newspaper staffmembers report the testimony of the podcast's central character, Canadian Shehroze Chaudhry, who alleged he travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization, is unreliable.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet told National Public Radio (NPR) on Thursday, December 17, "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. 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."
On the series, Chaudhry described, in graphic detail, his killing of two civilians, which prompted political representatives at Canada's Ottawa parliament to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why an alleged murderer was free to boast of his crimes.
"Canadians deserve more answers from their government. Why is it not doing something about this despicable animal walking around the country?" raged one politician, named Candice Bergen.
The drama prompted Chaudry to confess he had not participated in any killings, despite his admissions on the series, which in 2019 won a Peabody Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
But earlier this year, Canadian officials accused Chaudhry of lying about the events and he is now charged in Ontario with perpetrating a terrorism hoax.
"The New York Times has done tremendously ambitious journalism over the last few years. All of it has held up to the greater scrutiny," Baquet also told NPR.
"When we get it wrong, I want people to understand we're going to talk about it. And what I'm hoping is that by talking about it, people will understand that we want to win their trust. And we want them to believe what we report."
And on Friday, Baquet and Mark Mazzetti, an investigative correspondent for The New York Times, posted an extra 30-minute episode of the series, which is still available to listeners, admitting the errors and inaccuracies. The episode also includes newspaper chiefs' full statement that "Caliphate" failed to meet their editorial standards.
They have since also agreed to return the Peabody Award won for "Caliphate".