In a 13 August 2002 op-ed piece titled “The Anthrax Files,” New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof reported that anthrax investigation “person of interest” Dr. Steven J. Hatfill had “failed” three polygraph “tests” since January and declined a fourth. In an article titled “Anthrax figure steps up offense,” Baltimore Sun staff writer Scott Shane reports that Dr. Hatfill has publicly contradicted Kristof’s claim in a news conference held on Sunday, 25 Aug. Excerpt:
At the news conference, Hatfill strongly criticized Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist who has written about him several times, accusing the FBI of “lethargy” and urging investigators to pursue clues about a scientist he called “Mr. Z.” In his most recent column on the subject, published Aug. 13, Kristof acknowledged that Hatfill was “Mr. Z” and reported, without attribution, that Hatfill had failed three polygraph tests since January.
Hatfill called that allegation “a total lie” yesterday, saying he has been given only one polygraph examination by the FBI and was told he had passed.
Hatfill’s spokesman, [Pat] Clawson, said Kristof had failed to seek comments from Hatfill or his attorneys before making allegations against him. He said Kristof was guilty of “journalism malpractice at its worst.”
Correspondence released yesterday showed that The New York Times declined to publish Glasberg’s letter on the issue, saying it was too long. The Times’ opinion page also rejected the letter, and Kristof declined to run it in his column.
Reached at his Scarsdale, N.Y., home last night, Kristof said only: “You can quote me as saying I stand by the columns.”