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Rolling Stone accused of whitewashing child sex crime angle of ex-ABC News producer’s home raid

The editor of Rolling Stone magazine is accused of withholding key details about alleged child sex crimes from his own outlet’s report last year, when it broke the news of a federal raid of former ABC News producer James Gordon Meek’s home.  

The raid resulted in child sex charges against Meek, but Rolling Stone first broke the situation surrounding Meek with an Oct. 18 piece about the FBI raiding his home and put a spotlight on observers believing the raid was possibly “carried out on a journalist by the Biden administration” and implied it was tied to his work. 

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik published a stunning report on Tuesday headlined, “The FBI raided a notable journalist’s home. Rolling Stone didn’t tell readers why,” which raised questions about the initial story and why critical information was missing. 

“It should have been a coup. Instead, acrimony inside the newsroom over how that scoop was edited led to accusations that the magazine’s brash leader pulled punches in overseeing coverage of someone he knew. The reporter who wrote the story, enraged, accepted a position at a sister publication two months later. And her complaints prompted a senior attorney for the magazine’s parent company to review what happened,” Folkenflik wrote. 

Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman.

Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman. (CNN/Screenshot)


The “brash leader” in question is Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman, who came to the magazine in 2021 from the Daily Beast, another left-wing outlet. The Rolling Stone reporter who penned the story, Tatiana Siegel, is well respected within the media industry and has since left for Variety, which is also owned by Penske Media.

NPR noted that Rolling Stone opened the report by glorifying Meek’s career, and told readers he appeared “to be on the wrong side of the national-security apparatus,” which painted a picture of a journalist who was in hot water for doing his job. 

“As edited by Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman, however, the article omitted a key fact that Siegel initially intended to include: Siegel had learned from her sources that Meek had been raided as part of a federal investigation into images of child sex abuse, something not publicly revealed until last month,” Folkenflik wrote. “Why did Rolling Stone suggest Meek was targeted for his coverage of national security, rather than something unrelated to his journalism?”

Shachtman and Siegel both declined comment for the NPR story.

Folkenflik reported that last September, the raid on Meek’s home had already occurred but was not public knowledge yet. Siegel, who was attempting to get to the bottom of things, reminded Shachtman that she was working to report on the raid of Meek’s home. 

“The next week, Shachtman stepped in to edit Siegel’s story. It was rare for him to do so for her work,” Folkenflik wrote. 

Former ABC News investigate reporter James Gordon Meek was arrested and charged with child sex crimes.

Former ABC News investigate reporter James Gordon Meek was arrested and charged with child sex crimes. (Twitter/James Gordon Meek)


“As a longtime national security reporter himself, Shachtman has periodically expressed to colleagues at various outlets his skepticism of the veracity of government sources. When Siegel detailed the seriousness of the allegations against Meek, Shachtman warned her against turning in a story that included the words ‘child pornography’ in it,” Folkenflik wrote. 

Months later, Meek was charged with transportation of child pornography and faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. Meek allegedly “engaged in sexually explicit conversations where the participants expressed enthusiasm for the sexual abuse of children” and had devices containing such images. 

The 15-page affidavit included extremely disturbing details, including a video found on Meek’s phone of the alleged rape of an infant.

“According to two people with knowledge, Mark S. Zaid, a Washington attorney who often handles national security matters and represents government whistleblowers, called Shachtman on Meek’s behalf while Siegel was preparing her story,” Folkenflik wrote. 

Zaid had previously represented the Daily Beast when Shachtman ran the liberal site, according to NPR. 

Zaid did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital. 

“The accounts given by the associates, colleagues and friends of the two key figures — Siegel and Shachtman — diverge here. According to what Siegel told others, Shachtman and she agreed that the article would reflect that the FBI’s interest stemmed from concerns of possible criminal behavior outside the scope of Meek’s work — that is, it had nothing to do with national security or journalism,” Folkenflik wrote. “Shachtman later told others that he did not believe that she had nailed down her sourcing adequately. Rolling Stone parent company Penske Media notes that authority to make such choices for Rolling Stone’s coverage lies with Shachtman.”

NPR put a spotlight on Rolling Stone’s Oct. 18 piece about the FBI raiding former ABC News producer James Gordon Meek’s home.  

NPR put a spotlight on Rolling Stone’s Oct. 18 piece about the FBI raiding former ABC News producer James Gordon Meek’s home.   (iStock)

The company told NPR that Shachtman made edits, both additions and subtractions, to the Rolling Stone story that was eventually published. 

Shachtman also instructed Rolling Stone to use a generic photograph of “something FBI-y” instead of a picture of Meek.

“As the two of them worked to finalize the piece, Siegel was pulled away to help care for her ailing mother. Shachtman promised Siegel he would ensure the story would land safely while she tended to her family’s needs,” Folkenflik wrote. 

“In the hours leading up to publication, Shachtman changed Siegel’s draft to remove all suggestions that the investigation was not related to Meek’s reporting. He left in the finding that federal agents had allegedly found ‘classified information’ on Meek’s devices,” Folkenflik continued. “The article left many readers with the distinct impression that the investigation was linked to Meek’s reporting — which could lead to a clash of the government and the press.” 


Months went by before it was publicly revealed the mysterious raid resulted in child sex charges, and many parroted Rolling Stone’s tone that the ordeal was somehow related to the ex-ABC News producer’s work. 

“Colleagues and friends say Siegel said she didn’t know of the changes to her story until after it appeared online. Associates characterize Siegel as infuriated by what she considered Shachtman’s interference in the independence of her reporting,” Folkenflik wrote.

“The incident cuts against Shachtman’s well-cultivated image as a fearless steamroller,” Folkenflik added under a subhead, “An editor who travels in the same professional circles as his story’s focus.” 

“Siegel asked corporate officials whether Shachtman’s familiarity with Meek affected his judgment on her story. Prior to Meek’s arrest, Shachtman considered Meek a peer with whom he was friendly, according to associates,” Folkenflik wrote. “Shachtman has told colleagues that the two men travel in the same professional circles.” 

Folkenflik’s lengthy report then detailed that The Daily Beast criticized Siegel’s Rolling Stone piece. The criticism resulted in Rolling Stone updating its original story to include a Daily Beast quote that a Justice Department official said the DOJ “strictly adheres” to its policy prohibiting investigations of journalists over covering news. 

“After the story ran – and as Tatiana’s family emergency continued – Noah added a quote from a Justice Department spokesperson to the piece without consulting Tatiana. He takes responsibility for that,” Penske Media told NPR. 


Siegel told friends she “felt she was being mocked by one of Shachtman’s many disciples,” according to NPR. 

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Fox News Digital. 

Shachtman and Penske Media did not respond to requests for comment from Fox New Digital. 

Penske Media told NPR that the “Meek case was a particularly complex one, and the editorial choices made while covering it weren’t always simple or easy… so Rolling Stone stuck to a simple principle: publish in the moment as much information as it could confidently substantiate.”


Meek has pleaded not guilty. 

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