The journalism of verification: FCR's statement that it's not a target in Yonkers goes mostly unquestioned, though the feds won't confirm it
Does that mean they're cleared? Not exactly.
The U.S. Attorney's office would not comment when I asked them to confirm the statement. LoHud.com reported that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara "declined to comment on whether Forest City Ratner had broken the law by hiring Jereis or whether they were a target of the continuing investigation."
And, as I wrote, "not a target" could mean they're not a target now but could be in the future.
Following FCR's lead
Still, other than AYR and the local LoHud.com (home of the Journal-News), the press did not try to verify Forest City Ratner's claim. The New York Times dutifully printed FCR's statement, without adding, as the newspaper did in a 5/5/08 article on the investigation, that Forest City Ratner "partnered with The New York Times to build its new headquarters."
The Daily News and the Observer also quoted the FCR statement without question. (I couldn't find coverage in the Post.)
But it's not like Forest City Ratner is left without a cloud over it. In the indictment, FCR is cited as agreeing to provide Zehy Jereis, the former head of the Yonkers Republican Party, a $60,000 consulting contract after he got Yonkers City Council Member Sandy Annabi once a fierce opponent of the Ridge Hill project, to change her vote.
A claim by the developer, unsupported by prosecutors, is not the last word.