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NY Times Returns 2018 Peabody Award for ‘Caliphate’ Podcast

NYT Editor Dean Baquet admitted Friday that the paper failed to properly scrutinize the false claims at the center of the podcast

The New York Times has returned the 2018 Peabody Award it won for the now-discredited podcast “Caliphate,” the awards institution said on Friday.

“As the standard for quality media, the integrity of the Peabody Award is paramount, and we appreciate the professional manner in which the Times has handled this matter,” Peabody Award executive director Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones said in a statement. “We will receive the return of the award, recognizing the mutual respect both organizations have for each other’s longstanding record of journalistic integrity.”

The move comes just hours after the paper finally admitted that it failed to properly scrutinize the story of a Canadian man who claimed to have joined ISIS and, among other lurid crimes, stabbed a victim in the heart and pinned his dead body to a crucifix. Released to huge hype and acclaim in 2018, it turned out that Shehroze Chaudhry made the whole thing up. He was arrested by Canadian authorities in September on charges of promoting a terrorist hoax. The times then conducted its own investigation that took three more months to reach the same conclusions law enforcement officials did.

In a Friday podcast, Times executive editor Dean Baquet acknowledged the investigation’s findings, saying, “When the New York Times does deep, big, ambitious journalism in any format, we put it to a tremendous amount of scrutiny at the upper levels of the newsroom.”

He added, “We did not do that in this case,” then took personal responsibility: “I did not provide that kind of scrutiny, nor did my top deputies with deep experience in examining investigative reporting.”

The primary reporter on the project, Rukmini Callimachi, has been reassigned and the Overseas Press Club rescinded the 2018 award given to her and her colleagues.