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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman September 4, 2020

No, NBC News did not report Hillary Clinton 'covered up elite pedophile ring'

If Your Time is short

  • An NBC story aired in 2013 and looked into whether internal investigations of alleged misconduct by certain workers, and an ambassador accused of pedophilia, were properly handled during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

  • An inspector general’s review found that department officials could have taken further steps to investigate multiple cases, but noted the pedophilia allegations made against the ambassador were unsubstantiated. 

  • At no point in NBC’s report, or in the inspector general’s review, does it say that Clinton stopped investigations or that she “covered up” an “elite pedophile ring.”

A misleading story has resurfaced online that claims NBC News reported that Hillary Clinton covered up an "elite pedophile ring" at the State Department during her tenure as secretary of state.

The story, which was published in 2017 by a website called Collective Evolution, is recirculating on Facebook. Its headline reads: "NBC News Report: Hillary Clinton ‘Covered Up’ Elite Pedophile Ring At State Department."

This is a misrepresentation of NBC’s story, which aired in 2013 and reported on allegations that some top State Department officials intervened in internal investigations involving sexual misconduct. 

The NBC story noted that one of those investigations involved a pedophilia allegation, but at no point did it say Clinton was the one who stopped investigations, or that she covered up an "elite pedophile ring."

The Collective Evolution article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

NBC’s story aired on the "Today" show in June 2013 and was based on leaked memos about internal investigations of alleged misconduct by State Department employees and an ambassador. The story said that an internal memo alleged that these investigations were quashed by high-ranking officials during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

The report cited leaked documents that indicated the ambassador was under investigation for routinely ditching his security detail "to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children," and that a high-ranking official at the department directed investigators to "cease the investigation." 

The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General looked into whether the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security mishandled the investigation into the ambassador, along with seven others.

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The inspector general’s review was released in October 2014 and found that, in three of the cases, a combination of factors created "an appearance of undue influence and favoritism by Department management." This included the case of the ambassador, who was later identified as Howard Gutman, the former U.S. ambassador to Belgium.

"I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press, and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating," Gutman said in a statement to news outlets. "At no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity."

The inspector general’s review said Gutman denied the allegations during a meeting with two officials and was then permitted to return to work. The review found that the suspected misconduct by Gutman was not substantiated, but noted that further evidence could have been collected, and recommended the department establish "clear and consistent protocols and procedures" in the future. 

Our ruling

A story recirculating online claims that NBC reported that Hillary Clinton covered up an "elite pedophile ring" at the state department.

That’s inaccurate.

NBC news reported in 2013 about leaked memos that claimed some internal investigations at the State Department were mishandled, one of which included an allegation of pedophilia.

An inspector general’s report found that department officials could have taken further steps to thoroughly investigate multiple cases, but noted the allegations made against an ambassador were ultimately unsubstantiated. 

At no point in NBC’s report, or in the inspector general’s review, does it say that Clinton was the one who stopped investigations, or that she "covered up" an "elite pedophile ring." 

We rate this False.

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No, NBC News did not report Hillary Clinton 'covered up elite pedophile ring'

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