The fallout from the New York Times’ retraction of major portions of the “Caliphate” podcast continues. The influential KCRW Los Angeles (89.9) has announced it will no longer air the Times-produced news podcast “The Daily.”
Paul Bennun, Chief Content Officer at KCRW, said they felt the move was needed to maintain the station’s journalistic standards. “We have concerns about how the Times has handled the aftermath of the erroneous reporting in its audio series ‘Caliphate,’ which was featured on “The Daily,” and what this revealed about practices in their audio team,” he said in a statement. The show had been airing from 2:30-3pm PT.
The move follows a similar decision by Houston Public Media’s “News 88.7” KUHF Houston which this week said it has suspended airing of The Daily. Houston Public Media did not say The Daily was gone for good, but only “until further notice.” KUHF is airing BBC World Service programming in the timeslot (10-11pm) for now.
In addition, University of Texas KUT Austin (90.5) and Marfa Public Radio have followed suit, according to Vulture. Marfa Public Radio operates a network of five radio stations serving West Texas.
According to American Public Media, which syndicates “The Daily,” the podcast is heard on more than 200 public radio stations nationwide. Nielsen said it has a radio reach of more than 1.5 million listeners each week.
The decisions by KCRW, KUHF, KUT and Marfa Public Radio follow a letter sent this week from the Public Radio Program Directors Association to the New York Times over what public programmers believe are ethical lapses by host Michael Barbaro. The Times last month retracted “Caliphate,” saying the series did not meet the newspaper’s standards for accuracy. The podcast was based extensively on the story of a Toronto man who created a false identify for himself, sharing stories of how he traveled to Syria to take part in killings for Islamic State. Canadian police have since charged Shehroze Chaudhry, who called himself Abu Huzayfah in the podcast, with perpetrating a terrorist hoax.
The public radio program directors are critical of what they say were attempts by Barbaro to influence coverage of the incident on the podcast while also failing to disclose his personal relationship with “Caliphate” Executive Producer Lisa Tobin, his fiancée, during an episode of The Daily which sought to set the record straight. The Public Radio Program Directors Association also accused Barbaro of reaching out to several journalists in an “attempt to influence their coverage” of the errors made in the production of Caliphate. The Association also criticized how the New York Times dealt with two of the team members behind the series.
Sam Dolnick, Assistant Managing Editor at the New York Times, sent a letter in response telling public radio programmers he believes the paper has been fully transparent about where things went wrong.
“We believe we’ve handled what was a significant journalistic lapse with accountability,” said Dolnick, who oversees the podcast team. “We are deeply committed to continuing to pursue ambitious audio journalism and have already begun implementing changes that will make our audio report even stronger,” he said.
Dolnick also told the radio programmers that Barbaro also “deeply regrets” sending messages to media outlets that were viewed as an attempt at stifling criticism.