Houston Public Media’s “News 88.7” KUHF Houston has suspended airing of “The Daily,” the syndicated radio version of the top-ranked podcast produced by the New York Times. The move comes amid growing pushback from public radio programmers over how the newspaper has handled its investigation and retraction of the limited-run “Caliphate” podcast.
“Recent discoveries have led us to question whether ‘The Daily,’ a national podcast, adequately represents Houston Public Media's core values and standards,” said Lisa Trapani Shumate, General Manager of Houston Public Media. “Reports that ‘The Daily’ host, Michael Barbaro, did not appropriately disclose material facts about his connection to the controversial ‘Caliphate’ series during a recent broadcast are not consistent with Houston Public Media's commitment to transparency and journalistic standards,” said Shumate in a statement.
Houston Public Media did not say “The Daily” was gone for good, but only “until further notice.” KUHF is airing BBC World Service programming in the timeslot (10-11pm) for now.
The decision by KUHF follows a letter sent this week from the Public Radio Program Directors Association to the New York Times over what public programmers believe are ethical lapses by Barbaro. The Times last month retracted “Caliphate,” saying the series did not meet the newspaper’s standards for accuracy. The podcast was based extensively on the story of a Toronto man who created a false identify for himself, sharing stories of how he traveled to Syria to take part in killings for the Islamic State. Canadian police have since charged Shehroze Chaudhry, who called himself Abu Huzayfah in the podcast, with perpetrating a terrorist hoax.
The public radio program directors are critical of what they say were attempts by Barbaro to influence coverage of the incident on the podcast while also failing to disclose his personal relationship with “Caliphate” Executive Producer Lisa Tobin, his fiancée, during an episode of “The Daily” which sought to set the record straight. The Public Radio Program Directors Association also accused Barbaro of reaching out to several journalists in an “attempt to influence their coverage” of the errors made in the production of “Caliphate.” The Association also criticized how the New York Times dealt with two of the team members behind the series.
Sam Dolnick, Assistant Managing Editor at the New York Times, sent a letter in response telling public radio programmers he believes the paper has been fully transparent about where things went wrong.
“We believe we’ve handled what was a significant journalistic lapse with accountability,” said Dolnick, who oversees the podcast team. “We are deeply committed to continuing to pursue ambitious audio journalism and have already begun implementing changes that will make our audio report even stronger,” he said.
Dolnick also told the radio programmers that Barbaro also “deeply regrets” sending messages to media outlets that were viewed as an attempt at stifling criticism.
According to American Public Media, “The Daily” is heard on more than 200 public radio stations nationwide. Nielsen said it has a radio reach of more than 1.5 million listeners each week. The Times permits radio stations to air the morning podcast between 4pm-12am ET.