Hillary Clinton campaign blasts 'egregious' errors by The New York Times

How Hillary Clinton ran an email server
How Hillary Clinton ran an email server

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is accusing The New York Times of "egregious" errors and the "apparent abandonment of standard journalistic practices."

The campaign is angry over a story The Times published one week ago about fallout from Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. It was originally headlined "Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton's Use of Email."

The Times' story, which was based on unnamed sources, quickly unraveled. Clinton herself was not the target, and the case was not criminal.

Now the Clinton team, in a highly unusual move, is formally protesting the story. On Tuesday the campaign sent a letter to The Times executive editor Dean Baquet, and on Thursday it made the letter public.

The letter asserts that The Times rushed the flawed story onto its website and front page despite "questionable sourcing," and didn't do enough to contact Clinton before publication.

According to the campaign, The Times didn't notify Clinton staffers of their intent to use the word "criminal" to describe the inquiry until 8:36 p.m. on the day of publication. The story was posted around 11 p.m. -- leading the campaign to question how top editors at The Times were able to conduct "sufficient deliberations" before publishing.

The letter, from the campaign's communications director Jennifer Palmieri, acknowledges that The Times repeatedly corrected the story, but says "we remain perplexed by the Times' slowness to acknowledge its errors after the fact, and some of the shaky justifications that Times' editors have made."

Palmieri concluded by writing, "I wish to emphasize our genuine wish to have a constructive relationship with The New York Times. But we also are extremely troubled by the events that went into this erroneous report, and will be looking forward to discussing our concerns related to this incident so we can have confidence that it is not repeated in the future."

A copy of the letter was provided to CNNMoney by the Clinton campaign on Thursday night. The campaign had wanted the newspaper to publish the roughly 2,000-word critique, at least online. But the paper declined to do so, according to Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon.

Instead, the campaign decided to publish it on its own website, ensuring it would receive widespread attention. Fallon said the campaign had sent no other letters of the sort to other news outlets in the past.

Earlier this week The Times acknowledged the story's flaws through an editors' note. Baquet also pointed out that the newspaper relied on high-level governmental sources who confirmed the word "criminal."

A spokeswoman for The Times said Thursday night that "our editor's note and the public editor fully addressed the issues related to this story and we don't plan to comment further."

Related: NYT tries to set record straight on botched Clinton email story

The story's first paragraph originally said: "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday."

Later the paragraph was edited to say it wasn't Clinton who might have mishandled information, but other people; and the word "criminal" was removed.

"The paper's reporting was false," Palmieri wrote in her letter to The Times, "in several key respects."

She questioned who the original sources of the story were -- some have suggested that Republican lawmakers were involved -- and said "if nothing else, the Times could have allowed the campaign more time to understand the allegation being engaged. Unfortunately, the Times chose to take none of these steps."

By publishing the letter and trying to shame The Times, the Clinton campaign seems to be sending a message to other news outlets: to step carefully when covering the email controversy and expect serious scrutiny.

When a Twitter user observed on Thursday night that the original Times story was 1,082 words and the letter was 1,940 words, Fallon replied, "We were more thorough."

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