A website cofounded by journalist Glenn Greenwald has published emails suggesting that a former Tribune Washington bureau national security reporter submitted some of his work to CIA officials prior to publication, a practice banned by many media outlets, including Tribune.
Ken Dilanian, a former staff writer for the newspaper chain that includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, had a "closely collaborative relationship with the CIA," according to the article, published Thursday by the online news site the Intercept.
In documents made public by the website, Dilanian appeared to promise positive news coverage and on occasion sent the CIA press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA's reaction appears to have led to significant changes in a story eventually published by Tribune newspapers, according to the emails.
"I'm working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys," Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be "reassuring to the public" about CIA drone strikes, according to the Intercept.
In another exchange, the website reported, Dilanian sent a full draft of an unpublished report about drone strikes along with the subject line, "does this look better?" In another, he directly asks the agency officer: "You wouldn't put out disinformation on this, would you?"
David Lauter, chief of the Tribune Washington bureau, said the emails suggest a possible violation of Tribune news policy.
"We have a very clear rule that has been in place for quite a few years that tells reporters not to share copies of stories outside the newsroom," Lauter said. "I am disappointed that the emails indicate that Ken may have violated that rule.
"We don't have reason to believe that any of the stories we published were in any way inaccurate," Lauter added.
Dilanian left Tribune in May to join the Associated Press, and the emails released by the CIA cover only a few months of his tenure with Tribune, the Intercept said.
Paul Colford, director of media relations for the AP, said: "We were satisfied that any pre-publication exchanges that Ken had with the CIA before joining AP were in pursuit of accuracy in his reporting on intelligence matters."
Dilanian declined to comment.
Greenwald is a former reporter for the Guardian who has reported extensively on national security issues. He cofounded the Intercept in part as a means of reporting on documents uncovered by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.