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The Times Creates a Cover Admission

An interesting “Mia Culpa” from the New York Times this morning, in the form of an article from Clark Hoyt, The Times “Public Editor” [1]

Clark Hoyt Public Editor, New York Times [2]

Clark Hoyt Public Editor, New York Times

ON Sept. 12, an Associated Press article [3] inside The Times reported that the Census Bureau had severed its ties to Acorn, the community organizing group [4]. Robert Groves, the census director, was quoted as saying [5] that Acorn, one of thousands of unpaid organizations promoting the 2010 census [6], had become “a distraction.”

What the article didn’t say — but what followers of Fox News and conservative commentators already knew — was that a video sting [7] had caught Acorn workers counseling a bogus prostitute and pimp on how to set up a brothel staffed by under-age girls, avoid detection and cheat on taxes. The young woman in streetwalker’s clothes and her companion were actually undercover conservative activists [8] with a hidden camera.

It was an intriguing story: employees of a controversial outfit, long criticized by Republicans as corrupt, appearing to engage in outrageous, if not illegal, behavior. An Acorn worker in Baltimore was shown telling the “prostitute” that she could describe herself to tax authorities as an “independent artist” and claim 15-year-old prostitutes, supposedly illegal immigrants, as dependents.

Hoyt goes on:

It was an intriguing story: employees of a controversial outfit, long criticized by Republicans as corrupt, appearing to engage in outrageous, if not illegal, behavior. An Acorn worker in Baltimore was shown telling the “prostitute” that she could describe herself to tax authorities as an “independent artist” and claim 15-year-old prostitutes, supposedly illegal immigrants, as dependents.

But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from Acorn, The Times stood still. Its slow reflexes — closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones [9], a White House adviser — suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs. Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.

Of course, what we have here is an admission that it LOOKS like the Times is a partisan palace… not that it actually is. And Hoyt, of course initially mentions the one instance of this behavior. Such behavior on the part of ACORN has been shown as far from unique. What is remarkable is that the Times even in this admission of Hoyt’s can’t admit that point.

An interesting sub-plot is here, in Hoyt’s article:

Some conservatives think O’Keefe and Giles were doing work that should have been done by the mainstream media. But most news organizations consider such tactics unethical — The Times specifically prohibits reporters from misrepresenting themselves or making secret recordings.

Ah. So it’s not good if reporters do it but apparently the Times will go to the mat for people who do unethical things FOR them, while not officially in their employ. (Can you say”Pentegon Papers”?) Nor is the Times the only one doing this. As Ed Driscoll points up at PJM: [10]

Ed Driscoll of Pajamas Media [11]

Ed Driscoll of Pajamas Media

So what does the former home of Woodward & Bernstein have to say? First they attempted to discredit Hannah Giles by way of her father [12]. (Pay no attention to the background of Carl Bernstein’s parents [13] of course.) Then Howard Kurtz adds [14]:

The labeling debate is pointless. It was ideologically driven reporting. [As opposed to the Post’s coverage of the 2006 [15] and 2008 [16] elections? — Ed] It was two activists using deception to try to make an organization look bad — all the more reason for skepticism.

But the pair hit paydirt. The ACORNers’ behavior was nutty. Who offers advice about pimping out 13-year-old girls? What planet were these people living on?

Howard Kurtz [17]

Howard Kurtz

Did O’Keefe and Giles produce a fair and balanced story that included how many ACORN offices rejected their scheme? No. They released the worst stuff. But they’ve never hidden their motivation. Nor has their ally and Web guru, Andrew Breitbart, whose company was also named in the ACORN suit.

I don’t put much stock in the argument that mainstream journalists should have done something like this. People may think we’re whores, but we don’t look good in the getup. Plus, lying is a firing offense at many news organizations.

Huh. And yet Diane Sawyer still has a job at ABC, after bluffing her way into the rubble of the World Trade Center with a hidden camera [18] on the evening of September 11th, 2001. 60 Minutes has been on the air for over forty years [19] doing one hidden camera sting after another. And five years before he was fired from CBS, Dan Rather told Bill O’Reilly — with a remarkably straight face -“I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things” [20]:

O’REILLY: I want to ask you flat out. Do you think President Clinton’s an honest man?

RATHER: Yes, I think he’s an honest man.

O’REILLY: Do you? Really?

RATHER: I do, I do.

O’REILLY: Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s face about the Lewinsky….

RATHER: Who among us has not lied about something?

O’REILLY: Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s face on national television. I don’t think you have.

RATHER: I don’t think I ever have. At least I hope I never have.

O’REILLY: No. How can you say he’s an honest guy then?

RATHER: Well, cause I think he is. I think at core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing that anybody would say so. But I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.

Meanwhile back at the Times, Hoyt continues to limp through this:

And the two were sloppy with facts. One Acorn employee who bragged [21] about killing one of her former husbands said she knew she was being scammed and was playing along. The police said they found her ex-husbands alive.

No mention of the more obvious conclusion that the woman was simply being the pathological liar she is.  Apparently a positive trait among ACORN folks…. one the liberal media, the Times in the lead, ignores. Think about it this way:

CliffNorm [22]

“You were being scammed”

“Of COURSE I knew that…. I was playing along”

Sounds like a conversation between Norm and Cliff on “Cheers”, doesn’t it?

Nor is this the first such instance of being in bed with the far left for the Times. Or with Hoyt himself for that matter, as Michelle Malkin points up: [23]

michellemalkin081015 [24]

Michelle Malkin

“Not liberal bias,” eh? Then how to explain the institutional refusal of the Times — Hoyt included [25] — to address directly and openly the paper’s own complicity in covering up the ACORN story before Election Day?

For the benefit of the Times’ anonymous Opinion Media Monitor, whoever you are, here is what your paper’s belated coverage of ACORN is still missing — reprinted from my Sept. 16 blog post, “What’s missing from the New York Times coverage of ACORN.” [26]

One has to figure that the only reason that these guys think they deserve a GM style bail out from the Democrats running Congress and the White House is because they are willing to run blocker for those self same Democrats.

Dan Riehl bottom lines this for us [27] insofar as the Times goes:

Dan Riehl (Gotta get you a better picture, Dan) [28]

Dan Riehl (Gotta get you a better picture, Dan)

It’s not even worth discussing, really. It’s too late and the paper will never turn itself around under Pinch. And he’s built up such a team of liberal hacks underneath him, it would now take a generation to ferret them out. They don’t have that much time.

Quite right. But alas, that’s not the biggest part of the problem. The rest have been following the lead of the Times, and show no signs of halting their left-leaning, when… not if, but when… the Times falls over into it’s own pudding.

As a closing note, I am reminded from several sources to ask you to hit Stacy McCain’s Tip jar. [29]As Moe Lane puts it: [30]

I don’t actually want to see newspapers go away, seeing as they’ve got structural advantages on news gathering that I envy.  Like actual budgets: when someone like Robert Stacy McCain [29]** decides that he’s going to go down to Kentucky and cover the Bill Sparkman murder, he has to shake the tip jar, write a few posts highlighting the issue, and hope that somebody comes through for his expenses.  The equivalent NYT editor simply calls up the relevant department and has somebody set it up.  The ability to follow stories that easily is a powerful ability; would that the NYT was willing to take advantage of it.

Ain’t it real, folks. Ain’t it real.


More at Memeorandum. [31]