Media Ditches Substance Of Wasserman Schultz FBI Boondoggle To Focus On Conspiracy Theories

Holmes Lybrand | Fact Check Editor at The Daily Caller News Foundation

There has been a good deal of noise — though perhaps not enough — surrounding a recently fired IT aide to Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Imran Awan, and his family’s potential financial schemes. While certain outlets are working out the facts of the case, The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Snopes seem more concerned with casting doubt by bringing up speculations and misinformation about the story from unknown blog sites and YouTubers.

The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group reporter Luke Rosiak, who has covered this story extensively since it first appeared in February, broke the news Sunday that “FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.”


The NYT and BuzzFeed fail to mention this and many other key facts in recent articles, and Snopes obfuscates the story by rating a claim from a no-name blog as false, requiring the reader to dig through the fact check to find the truth.

Awan was arrested Monday night just hours after TheDCNF’s Sunday story said he was under investigation by the FBI. “He attempted to leave the country hours after The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group revealed that he is the target of an FBI investigation, and the FBI apprehended him at the airport,” Rosiak reported.

Before attempting to leave for Pakistan, Awan wired almost $300,000 to the country. As Rosiak mentions, “Credit union officials permitted the wire to go through, and his wife has already fled the country to Pakistan, after police confronted her at the airport and found $12,000 in cash hidden in her suitcase but did not stop her from boarding, court documents show.”

A NYT article Friday dedicates the vast majority of its space to casting doubt on stories surrounding Awan by using his lawyer, Christopher Gowen, as a reputable defense for Awan. Not only does the NYT ignore Gowen’s deep ties to Clinton, which TheDCNF has reported in detail, but the article also attempts to cast doubt by citing theories from a no-name conspiracy theorist who supports Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (though NYT calls him a “right winger”).

The NYT complains that “for all the publicity, few if any of the fundamental facts of the case have come into focus,” but fails to mention some of those fundamental facts within the article. The article makes no mention of the official Fairfax court documents that Rosiak has repeatedly linked to in his multiple stories on the Awans: “‘Imran Awan threatened that he is very powerful and if I ever call the police again, [he] will … kidnap my family members back in Pakistan,’ Awan’s stepmother, Samina Gilani, claimed in the documents filed April 14 in Fairfax County, Va., in the case of Americo Financial Life and Annuity Insurance Company v. Abid A. Awan and Samina Ashraf Gilani.”

In an article explaining the events surrounding Imran Awan and his family, BuzzFeed quickly began rebuking certain so-called “far-right” conspiracy theories. “Far-right and pro-Trump media have tried without evidence to link Awan and his wife, brother, and friends to conspiracy theories, especially those surrounding the release of the DNC emails,” BuzzFeed wrote.

While these theories are being pushed by some, BuzzFeed — along with NYT — uses them to cast doubt on the story by asking Awan’s lawyer what he thinks of the speculations. BuzzFeed provides Awan’s lawyer five paragraphs to refute said speculations.

Just as with the NYT article, the BuzzFeed author never mentions the smashed hard drives that the FBI seized from Awan’s home, and continually uses the lawyer to cast doubt on accusations that Awan was fleeing the country.

BuzzFeed never mentions how Wasserman Schultz threatened Capitol Police with “consequences” if they did not return a laptop used by Awan. These are only a few examples of the many, many details BuzzFeed and the NYT leave out of the recent articles, which instead focus on a few people floating conspiracy theories and the defense of Awan’s lawyer.

Snopes also attempts to obfuscate the story at hand. In an article from Wednesday titled, “Did The Federal Bureau of Investigation Seize Smashed Hard Drives From Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s Home?” Snopes rates the claim mentioned in the headline as “False.” What is the truth? As Rosiak reported Sunday, the smashed hard drives were seized from Awan’s house, not Wasserman Schultz’s house.

But was this worth fact checking? A no-name blog misreporting one fact of a larger report?

Perhaps Snopes’ intentions were noble and not meant to mislead people about the overall story, but the fact-checking site has shown a certain bent when attempting to check other claims from TheDCNF. Snopes’ article hides the facts below the headline, subhead, claim and verdict.

Snopes does cite the original report from TheDCNF, which BuzzFeed either completely missed or did not want to include in its article.

Regardless of external noise, theories and blogs, the NYT, BuzzFeed and Snopes have made a perhaps unwitting effort to obfuscate information surrounding the Awan story.

The New York Times did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the rest: A Continuing DCNF Investigative Group Series

Editor’s Note:

The Daily Caller, Inc., the Daily Caller News Foundation, and Luke Rosiak have settled a defamation lawsuit brought by Imran Awan, Abid Awan, Jamal Awan, Tina Alvi, and Rao Abbas (“the Plaintiffs”), in the D.C. Superior Court, Awan et al. v. The Daily Caller, Inc. et al., No. 2020 CA 000652 B (D.C. Super.) (“The Lawsuit”).
The Plaintiffs filed the Lawsuit in 2020, alleging that they were defamed by statements made by The Daily Caller entities and Mr. Rosiak, including statements in Obstruction of Justice, a 2019 book authored by Mr. Rosiak and published by Regnery Publishing, a business of Salem Media Group, Inc., about the Plaintiffs’ work for the U.S. House of Representatives. In response, The Daily Caller entities and Mr. Rosiak each denied liability and contested the Plaintiffs’ claims. 
None of the Defendants has admitted to any fault as part of this settlement. Nevertheless, The Daily Caller entities and Mr. Rosiak recognize that no charges have ever been filed against the Plaintiffs relating to their congressional IT work.

Follow Holmes on Twitter

Send tips to [email protected]

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact [email protected].

Holmes Lybrand

Fact Check Editor at The Daily Caller News Foundation