New York Post reporters 'refused to attach bylines to Biden piece after doubting its accuracy’

Reporters at the paper say editors pressured them to put their bylines on the story

Graig Graziosi
Monday 19 October 2020 19:43 BST
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Reporters at The New York Post were reluctant to put their names on the bombshell story alleging corruption on the part of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden over concerns that the information was inaccurate, it has been reported.

The New York Times reported that the story was primarily written by one staff member who refused to put their name on the piece. The Times' information is attributed to two New York Post reporters who spoke on condition of anonymity over fears that the paper - owned by Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch - would retaliate.  

The reporter, Bruce Golding, told his editors he would not allow his name to be included on the story because he was concerned that the story was not credible.  

The New York Post story is based on photos of documents that are alleged to appear on a copy of a laptop hard driver that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden.  

The article included two named sources; Donald Trump's former political adviser Stephen Bannon, who is now facing federal fraud charges for his alleged role in stealing money from individuals who thought they were fundraising to build Mr Trump's wall on the southern border, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is among Mr Trump's most dedicated allies.  

The story included a third, unnamed source; a Trump-supporting computer repairman who initially copied the hard drives when he realised they belonged to Hunter Biden.  

According to the New York Post reporters who spoke to The Times, many people in the newsroom were skeptical of the story and were not convinced the paper had enough evidence to confidently report the story. They questioned the timing of the story - weeks before the election, a perfect "October surprise" - and whether enough fact checking had been done on the details.  

Mr Giuliani openly admitted he chose to leak the story to the New York Post because he knew other outlets would spend too much time fact checking the information.  

"Either nobody else would take [the story], or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out," Mr Giuliani said.  

The story asserts that during Mr Biden's tenure as vice president, he helped direct foreign policy decisions in Ukraine in a way that would help his son, Hunter Biden, who formerly sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.  

A Republican-led Senate committee that investigated Mr Biden's involvement with Ukrainian officials found no wrongdoing had occurred.  

The paper's top editors allegedly pressured staff members to put their bylines on the story, but were unsuccessful in finding anyone willing to take responsibility. At least one other journalist other than Mr Golding refused to attach their name to the story.  

Eventually, the story was published under the bylines of Emma-Jo Morris and Gabrielle Fonrouge.  

The Times found that Ms Morris did not have a byline on the site prior to the publication of the Biden story. She is a deputy politics editor who formerly worked at Fox News.  

The other reporter, Ms Fonrouge, apparently did not learn her name had been added to the story until after it was published. Reporters at the New York Post speaking to The Times said Ms Fonrouge had little to do with writing or reporting the story.

A spokeswoman for the New York Post said the paper stands by the story.  

"The story was vetted and The Post stands by its reporting," she said.  

The spokeswoman did not offer The Times a comment on how the story was written or edited.

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