NYT: Reporter Erred Sending Draft Of Dowd Column To CIA To Help With Fact Check

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Updated: 4: 26 p.m. ET

From the annals of reporters getting cozy with their sources: New York Times national security reporter Mark Mazzetti gave a CIA spokesperson an advance copy of Maureen Dowd’s Aug. 6, 2011 column, which made mention of a movie by “Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Islamabad compound.According to emails obtained by Judicial Watch, Mazzetti told CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf, before sending along Dowd’s draft, “this didn’t come from me….and please delete after you read. See, nothing to worry about.” Harf helped coordinate access and information for the movie’s screenwriter, Mark Boal, and Bigelow, according to the emails.

Dowd wrote in her column that the White House is counting on the movie — titled “Zero Dark Thirty” — “to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual.” At the time, the movie was set to open in mid-October, which could have create a little positive buzz for the president ahead of the election. However, the movie is currently slated for a December 2012 release.

Managing Editor Dean Baquet told Politico that the situation amounts to “much ado about nothing,” though he didn’t go into specifics.

“The optics aren’t what they look like,” he said. “I’ve talked to Mark, I know the circumstances, and given what I know, it’s much ado about nothing.”

Read the emails.

Late update:

In a statement, the paper calls Mazzetti’s move a “mistake that is not consistent with New York Times standards.” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said that Dowd asked Mazzetti to help check a fact for her column. Mazzetti sent the full column to the CIA without Dowd knowing shortly before her deadline.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Taintor is a news editor at Talking Points Memo. Previously, he worked at NBC News and Adweek. He's a native of Minnesota. Reach him at taintor@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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