The New York Times reported Tuesday it had opened an investigation into its own reporter after the federal government alleged she had a romantic relationship with a source.
The Times broke the story last week that the Justice Department secretly surveilled the emails of their reporter Ali Watkins as part of an investigation into the leaks of classified information. Former Senate Intelligence Committee aide James Wolfe was arrested and indicted the same day for allegedly leaking information to Watkins over the course of her career at BuzzFeed, Politico, and the Times.
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The federal indictment claimed Wolfe and Watkins carried out a three-year relationship, beginning when Watkins she was an intern with McClatchy. It is at that point Wolfe is alleged to have started providing scoops to the young reporter. At the time, the college senior was lauded for her role in breaking a story about how the Obama administration was spying on Senate aides.
While defending its reporter from government intrusion, the Times announced Tuesday it was "reviewing the work history of Ali Watkins," including her work written before she joined the paper.
The inquiry plans to look at "the nature of her relationship with Mr. Wolfe, and what she disclosed about it to her prior employers." Watkins reportedly told the Times about the relationship when she was hired in December, but insisted he "did not provide her with information during the course of their relationship."
Contrary to Watkins' claims, Wolfe's indictment claims the government intercepted a text message in which he told her "I always tried to give you as much information that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else."
The Times’ inquiry is being led by personnel staffers Charlotte Behrendt and Andrew Gutterman. Behrendt also investigated reporter Glenn Thrush, who was suspended and demoted following allegations of sexual impropriety.