The Hill has completed its review of John Solomon’s columns on Ukraine.
“In its review of 14 columns, The Hill’s news team said serious doubts about the credibility of Solomon’s Ukrainian sources were evident even before his interviews with them,” Politico reported.
As iMediaEthics reported, The Hill announced it was reviewing Solomon’s work in Nov. 2019 after Talking Points Memo reported that Solomon “worked in concert with Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and published pieces that touched off a smear campaign at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.” Solomon tweeted that he “suggested” the review himself and stood by his work.
The Hill is a Washington D.C.-based online news site focused on policy and politics. iMediaEthics has written to The Hill. iMediaEthics has tweeted Solomon seeking his response.
According to The Hill’s report on its review, it was “conducted independently by The Hill’s new staff under the direction of editor-in-chief Bob Cusack.” The Hill reviewed 14 of Solomon’s columns with “working panels” to review each column for potential needed corrections, context or editor’s notes.
The Hill provided “background” information on Solomon’s work, explaining he was hired in July 2017, wrote news and opinion articles, including on former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Ukraine.
The Hill noted it publishes opinion from all sides of politics and work is “routinely check and vetted for accuracy, conflicts of interest and other relevant factors,” and The Hill will add corrections or clarifications when needed for errors or conflict of interest. The Hill also has at least one opinion editor review columns before publication, but may require multiple editors and legal review.
“The same process was followed with Solomon’s columns. In instances involving the use of unnamed sources in his columns, he provided or was asked to identify those sources by name and position or relevance to the topic; he also provided copies of documents that were referenced in his columns or that provided the basis for his citations of fact or his opinions and conclusions,” the Hill wrote.
The Hill said Solomon provided his original sources and only one person contacted to complain about a Solomon article when it was published, in which case The Hill published that person’s column responding to his claims. That said, “The Hill has added editor’s notes to Solomon’s work on Ukraine. In some columns, there was context and/or disclosure that should have been included at the time of his writings. In other cases, these editor’s notes highlight what has been learned since Solomon’s columns were initially published,” The Hill said, providing a list of links.
Editors notes atop articles read:
“Editor’s note: John Solomon’s columns regarding Ukraine became a subject of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Any updated information can be found at the end of the column.“
One editor’s note says that a PR firm disputed the claims in the column and that the column contained a link at their lawyers’ request and that Solomon didn’t disclose that the lawyers were also his. Another says that a “primary source” for a column was indicted, but the case was closed. Others provide additional information about sources or subjects of the articles.
The Hill also noted that readers may have been confused because Solomon’s articles were opinion but read like news and TV appearances didn’t clearly call Solomon an opinion writer. The Hill also acknowledged it may have been confusing that Solomon had a “hybrid role” working in both opinion, news and TV and without a specific superior. The Hill also remarked that Solomon didn’t include “important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fat that they had been indicted or were under investigation,” or that they were his attorneys.
“Solomon has denied any coordinated effort with Giuliani, Parnas or others, insisting that he was merely dealing with those individuals in the course of reporting for his columns, and he has called Parnas a ‘facilitator’ who helped him in setting up interviews with Ukrainian officials, including Lutsenko and Shokin,” The Hill added.
The Hill later continued: “While Solomon has insisted that Parnas was simply facilitating contacts or arranging interviews in his native Ukraine, the number of alleged contacts or apparent references to Solomon in emails, text messages and other materials released by Parnas to congressional investigators raises questions about his involvement.”
Because of the incident, The Hill announced it has changed some policies. Now, the editor-in-chief has “enhanced editorial authority” over the site’s publications, articles are not supposed to be sent to anyone before publication, conflicts of interest must be disclosed, opinion and news must be distinguished, “The Hill will endeavor to ensure its employees are accurately described when appearing on other media outlets,” and opinion and investigations will not be blended.