What A Mess: Outlets Walk Back Reports About FBI Warning Giuliani On Russia Disinfo

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani listens during a news briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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May 3, 2021 9:22 a.m.

Several outlets that reported last week that the FBI had warned Rudy Giuliani that he was a target of Russia’s disinformation campaign against President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden have walked back their reports.

Giuliani, it seems, may not have been warned after all.

The Washington Post, which was the first to report that the FBI issued the warning to Giuliani and the pro-Trump media organization One America News (OAN), updated its article with a correction on Saturday.

“An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation. That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.”

NBC News made a similar update on its story on Giuliani’s “defensive briefing” from the FBI, stating that an unnamed source had told the outlet that the briefing had been prepared for Giuliani but not delivered to him, in part out of concern that it might affect the ongoing criminal investigation into the lawyer.

“An earlier version of this article included an incorrect report that Rudolph Giuliani had received a defensive briefing from the FBI in 2019 warning him that he was being targeted by a Russian influence operation,” NBC News’ correction read. “The report was based on a source familiar with the matter, but a second source now says the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him, in part over concerns it might complicate the criminal investigation of Giuliani. As a result, the premise and headline of the article below have been changed to reflect the corrected information.”

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The New York Times also corrected its report that had mentioned Giuliani receiving the FBI’s warning.

“An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing,” the Times said in a correction note at the bottom of its report.

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