New York Times Criticizes 'Today' Over Coverage of Paper's Cheerleader Story

The paper accused the show of booking and then canceling an interview with the author of a bombshell report on the subject.

A public relations account for The New York Times criticized the Today show Friday for airing a segment that contested a report in the newspaper about a scandal involving cheerleaders for the Washington Redskins football team.

The newspaper also claimed the show booked the author of the Wednesday story, Juliet Macur, and then canceled the interview. Instead, the show booked two women, former Redskins cheerleaders, who denied the crux of the story. According to the report, Redskins cheerleaders were forced to pose topless during a 2013 trip to Costa Rica that was attended by team sponsors and stadium suite-holders.

".@todayshow, we would’ve appreciated the opportunity to respond to criticism of our journalism, especially after booking Juliet Macur (who broke the story) to appear on your show & then canceling her," wrote the account representing the Times. "Here’s a link to our reporting, which is rock solid."

A spokeswoman for Today has not yet responded to a request for comment on the cancelation claim.

A spokesman for the Times told The Hollywood Reporter that Macur was booked Thursday (for Friday's show) and then was canceled later in the day, citing last-minute changes to the show. "We were surprised to see that instead they aired a segment that was based solely on the Redskins' view, was critical our reporting and did not give us an opportunity to respond," he said.

Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, when introducing the segment, made clear that the Redskins asked the two ex-cheerleaders to "speak out on the team's behalf." She also noted that the women who spoke to the Times were not there to make their case. (Today ran another segment on the scandal earlier in the show, noting that two anonymous sources confirmed the Times report.)

One of the cheerleaders was careful not to throw her former colleagues under the bus. "We can't discount the experiences that other women had on the team, but we can bring to light the facts of the circumstances," Chairo Bishop said.