The New York Times placed a bombshell of a correction at the bottom of a pessimistic piece on President Donald Trump Thursday.
A previous version of Monday’s story by Maggie Haberman, titled “Trump’s Deflections and Denials on Russia Frustrate Even His Allies,” made reference to the “17 intelligence agencies” that have supposedly all concurred in the assessment of Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential race.
Despite the mainstream media and the political left making constant reference for months to the “17 intelligence agencies” agreeing on Russia’s actions during the campaign, this has repeatedly been debunked. The single released report on the matter from the American intelligence community was produced by only three intelligence agencies – the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA).
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the “17 agencies” line was fake news. While there are 17 American intelligence agencies and none, to his knowledge, objected to the CIA/FBI/NSA report, none of the other 14 agencies have published any independent confirmation of its claims.
The phrase “17 intelligence agencies” seems to have entered the public discourse after Hillary Clinton used it in her second debate with Trump. Despite its demonstrable inaccuracy, it continues to feature in articles from across the mainstream media. For example, an Associated Press wire story that Breitbart News carried last week uncritically uses the 17-agency figure.
For its part, the New York Times felt compelled to issue a correction after using the same phrase. The following was added below Haberman’s article:
Correction: June 29, 2017
A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.
Note: The figure of four agencies is reached by including Clapper’s office in addition to the three agencies that compiled the published report.