The far-left National Public Radio (NPR) published a random act of journalism Tuesday, as media reporter David Folkenflik took a pause from obsessing over Fox News to expose Rolling Stone and editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman for his role in purposefully omitting the fact that the FBI raided the home of ABC News producer James Gordon Meek because of his alleged possession of child pornography.
Why, you may ask?
According to Folkenflik’s reporting, it was because Shachtman and the producer’s attorney — well-known Washington lawyer and media darling Mark Zaid — were friends. And worse yet, Folkenflik revealed Shachtman saw Meek as a “friendly” figure who “travel[ed] in the same professional circles.”
In other words, it was par for the course for the outlet, which peddled the infamous fake news story in November 2014 of a rape at the University of Virginia and faced little blowback after the tall tale was treated as fact by the broadcast networks.
This scandal began on October 18 when Rolling Stone revealed some disturbing news, summarized by Folkenflik: “The FBI had raided the home of a renowned journalist at the top of his game months earlier, and he had disappeared from public view.”
Tatiana Siegel’s story served as an ominous tone for the feds to raid the home of an award-winning national security journalist amid a litany of crises on the world stage. She said that “Meek appears to be on the wrong side of the national-security apparatus” as agents “allegedly found classified information on Meek’s laptop.” Since the raid, Meek went AWOL.
But below the surface, as Folkenflik reported, Siegel and her colleagues were furious with Shatchman’s editing and removal of references to how the raid had nothing to do with his work.
Shachtman’s involvement began when he found out what Siegel was working on and surprisingly stepped in with serious reservations (click “expand”):
[A]crimony inside the newsroom over how that scoop was edited led to accusations that the magazine’s brash leader pulled punches in overseeing coverage of someone he knew. The reporter who wrote the story, enraged, accepted a position at a sister publication two months later. And her complaints prompted a senior attorney for the magazine’s parent company to review what happened.
As edited by Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman, however, the article omitted a key fact that Siegel initially intended to include: Siegel had learned from her sources that Meek had been raided as part of a federal investigation into images of child sex abuse, something not publicly revealed until last month.
At a staff meeting late that month, Shachtman asked her what she was working on. She reminded him.
The next week, Shachtman stepped in to edit Siegel’s story. It was rare for him to do so for her work.
When Siegel detailed the seriousness of the allegations against Meek, Shachtman warned her against turning in a story that included the words “child pornography” in it.
Shachtman and Siegel had reportedly “agreed that the article would reflect that the FBI’s interest stemmed from concerns of possible criminal behavior outside the scope of Meek’s work,” but things quickly spiraled.
Along with Zaid having “called Shachtman on Meek’s behalf”, Shachtman reportedly changed his mind and no longer “believe[d] that she had nailed down her sourcing adequately.”
Shachtman’s ghoulish and unethical behavior kicked into another gear by taking advantage of Siegel suffering a personal crisis: the impending death of her mother.
Siegel had to leave work “to help care for her ailing mother,” so the scumbag “promised Siegel he would ensure the story would land safely” and, with Siegel away, he “changed Siegel’s draft to remove all suggestions that the investigation was not related to Meek’s reporting.”
Of course, Siegel reportedly never learned of this “until after it appeared online” and was “infuriated by what she considered Shachtman’s interference in the independence of her reporting.” Not surprisingly, Siegel left the magazine by year’s end.
Folkenflik noted that, given what was perceived to have been the reason for the raid, it received traction from across the spectrum as a threat to free speech.
Fast-forward to February 1 and “the Justice Department unveiled criminal charges against…related to images of child sex abuse.”
Despite attempts by Rolling Stone’s parent company to defend Shachtman in statements and Folkenflik doling out a nauseating line about Shachtman having had a “well-cultivated image as a fearless steamroller,” the NPR reporter painted an incriminating picture.
He included examples of the ties between Meek and Shachtman, who’s seen in the liberal media as at the forefront of fighting so-called disinformation and appeared in the Twitter Files as a participant in an Aspen Institute event (click “expand”):
Siegel asked corporate officials whether Shachtman’s familiarity with Meek affected his judgment on her story.
Prior to Meek’s arrest, Shachtman considered Meek a peer with whom he was friendly, according to associates.
Shachtman has told colleagues that the two men travel in the same professional circles.
Shachtman boasts his own distinguished record as a national security journalist. Earlier in his career, he founded and led the national security blog Danger Room for Wired magazine. In 2010, the writer Spencer Ackerman referred in a post on the blog to “our friend James Gordon Meek.” Shachtman later worked for Foreign Policy magazine before becoming the No. 2 editor and then editor-in-chief at the Daily Beast.
Shortly before Shachtman joined Rolling Stone, Meek suggested on Twitter that Shachtman should pay attention to an obscure band from Niger — the location of the botched military mission that Meek helped investigate for ABC. Shachtman replied by linking to an earlier review.
Meek soon emailed Shachtman to gauge interest in covering his Hulu documentary series. The new Rolling Stone editor passed the note along to colleagues; the magazine posted a glowing review some weeks later, in November 2021.