Following a months-long internal investigation, The New York Times has determined that the reporting that went into Caliphate, its award-winning narrative podcast hosted by foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, did not meet the Times’ standards.
The 2018 series, which went on to win a Peabody Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, centers on a Canadian man known as Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi, who claimed to have traveled to Syria become an executioner for the Islamic State. Those claims contradict what the man, whose real name is Shehroze Chaudhry, had told Canadian officials and news outlets both prior to the podcast’s release as well as after, NPR reports. Due to the discrepancies, Canadian authorities arrested Chaudhry in late September on charges related to perpetrating a terrorist hoax, which prompted the Times’ internal review by three of the newspaper’s investigative reporters.
“This failing isn’t about any one reporter,” executive editor Dean Baquet told the Times reporters conducting the investigation. “I think this was an institutional failing.”
“When The New York Times does deep, big, ambitious journalism in any format, we put it to a tremendous amount of scrutiny at the upper levels of the newsroom,” he continued. “We did not do that in this case… And I think that I or somebody else should have provided that same kind of scrutiny, because it was a big, ambitious piece of journalism. And I did not provide that kind of scrutiny, nor did my top deputies with deep experience in examining investigative reporting.”
The Times has added an editors’ note to the description of every Caliphate episode, which also now begin with a correction read by The Daily host Michael Barbaro.
“Reflecting on what I missed in reporting our podcast is humbling,” Callimachi wrote in a statement, released Friday. “Thinking of the colleagues and the newsroom I let down is gutting.”
“To our listeners, I apologize for what we missed and what we got wrong,” she continued. “We are correcting the record, and I commit to doing better int he future.”