NBC's Dilanian Stands By Story Network Retracted Amid Accusations of Anti-Semitism

'The story is accurate and was published by NBC News after our normal editing and vetting process', Dilanian tells the Washington Free Beacon

Ken Dilanian / YouTube
January 28, 2021

A senior NBC News reporter is standing by a controversial report that was retracted by the network on Wednesday in the face of criticism that it advanced a longstanding anti-Semitic trope.

National security and intelligence correspondent Ken Dilanian told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday that he stands by his reporting, which focused on a senior National Security Council official's generous contributions to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

"The story is accurate and was published by NBC News after our normal editing and vetting process, which includes review by our legal and standards departments," Dilanian told the Washington Free Beacon in an email.

NBC News on Wednesday retracted the piece, telling readers that it "fell short of our reporting standards." The piece remains online accompanied by a lengthy editor's note detailing the shortcomings.

A spokesman for NBC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The original report, which followed on a similar news story from Mother Jones's David Corn, an MSNBC analyst, focused on donations to AIPAC from a family foundation linked to Anne Neuberger, whom Biden has appointed as deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology.

The piece came under fire for implying that donations to the pro-Israel group raised questions about Neuberger's loyalty to the United States, a longstanding and insidious anti-Semitic trope. Dilanian's report quoted anonymous critics arguing that the donations "risk creating the possible appearance of bias" in favor of Israel.

A spokeswoman for the NSC on Thursday decried "spurious accusations against our staff," arguing that the report contained "ad hominem attacks based on ethnic, racial, or religious identity." AIPAC also demanded a retraction, arguing that "charges of dual loyalty are anti-Semitic and insult millions of Americans—Jewish & non-Jewish—who stand by our ally Israel."

The network cited its reporter's failure to get on-the-record quotes from critics and to give Neuberger and supporters of AIPAC appropriate time to comment. The piece relied solely on anonymous sources to criticize the $500,000 in donations she has made through her family foundation and did not include a single comment in defense of the pro-Israel group.

Like Dilanian, Corn is standing by his reporting. "Neither my story nor the NBC News story on the same subject raised any question of loyalty," Corn said in a tweet on Wednesday. "These pieces reported that national security and government ethics experts consider these donations problematic."

Mother Jones added an update to its piece noting NBC's retraction and saying that it stands by Corn's reporting.

Links to the NBC piece now direct readers to an editor's note stating that it "fell short of our reporting standards." The original piece remains available in NBC's archives.