Update (3:20 p.m.): The Times has now added a correction to the story. More here.
Current New York Times lead: “Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.”
Bold text added to highlight passive voice.
The original lead for the story was much the same, but with a key difference. The requests for a criminal investigation “into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state,” as reported by Politico’s Dylan Byers.
Bold text added to highlight active voice.
One of the story’s reporters, Michael Schmidt, told Politico, “It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them.”
In an e-mail to the Erik Wemple Blog, New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy notes, “As often happens, editors continued to revise this story after initial publication to make it as clear and precise as possible. There was no factual error, so there was no reason for a correction.”
NBC News also appears to have experimented a bit with its wording. Here’s a tweet from early in the morning:
And here’s the headline currently on the NBC News site:
Criminal Probe Sought Over Hillary Clinton’s Email Account
The URL for that story reads, “http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/criminal-probe-sought-against-hillary-clinton-over-private-email-server-n397621?cid=sm_twitter_feed_politics”
Brian Fallon, press secretary for the Clinton campaign, has been vocal on Twitter today about the sourcing attached to the early accounts:
An Associated Press story this morning, meanwhile, confirms the requests from the Justice Department but notes, “One U.S. official said it was unclear whether classified information was mishandled and the referral doesn’t suggest wrongdoing by Clinton herself.”
These developments are just the latest step in Clinton’s e-mail crisis, which started in March with revelations in the New York Times that she’d used a private e-mail server throughout her time as secretary of state. She said she didn’t send classified information on those e-mails and the campaign has insisted that she complied with “appropriate practices.” Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill told the AP that e-mails “deemed classified by the administration were done so after the fact, not when they were sent.”
UPDATE: We asked Fallon whether he took issue with the New York Times’s explanation that there was no factual error to correct. He responded, “Their lede last night has so far been directly contradicted by the Associated Press and via an on-the-record statement from the Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee.” That statement comes from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has issued a statement saying that the State Department’s inspector general “never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email usage,” reads the statement. “Instead, he told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the FOIA review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified.”
“This is the latest example in a series of inaccurate leaks to generate false front-page headlines — only to be corrected later,” said Cummings.