Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.24 It took just one acre to grow faith in organic farming

04.24 Greta Thunberg teaches us about autism as much as climate change

04.23 To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

04.23 Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact – study

04.23 US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

04.21 Trump and impeachment: where Democrats stand after Mueller

04.21 Dutch engineers build world's biggest sun-seeking solar farm [A replacement for lost Arctic ice?]

04.21 We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic consequences. Here are 9 last-ditch ways we could hack the planet to reverse that trend.[Hail Mary pass ideas]

04.18 'We Can Be Whatever We Have the Courage to See': New Video From AOC Envisions a #GreenNewDeal Future [7:35 video]

04.18 'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

04.17 Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

04.16 'That Backfired': Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

04.16 Cause of cancer is written into DNA of tumours, scientists find, creating a 'black box' for origin of disease

04.16 Scientists Unveil World's First Human Heart 3D-Printed From Patients' Own Cells

04.15 What It Was Like to Have a Baby in Sweden

04.14 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US

04.13 With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

04.11 Will You Rise Up for Climate Justice Next Week? Don’t Let Fatalism and Cynicism Hold You Back

04.11 300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

04.10 Glaciers and arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's too late [Willfully ignorant "conservatives" and corporately-bribed liberals diddle self-obsessively while life on earth dies]

04.10 Is there a beautiful, briny solution to the world’s clean water crisis?

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

04.23 'A Really Exciting Proposal': Elizabeth Warren's Education Overhaul Would Wipe Out Student Debt, Provide Free Public College

04.23 To Reassert Congressional War Authority, Sanders Demands Vote to Override Trump Veto on Yemen

04.21 Trump's moral squalor, not impeachment, will remove him from power

04.21 Pentagon Spending Set to Hit Near-Record Levels, But 'Establishment Says We Can't Afford' Progressive Policies

Justice Matters

04.23 BALTIMORE POLICE TRIED TO KILL KEITH DAVIS JR. PROSECUTORS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CONVICT HIM OF MURDER EVER SINCE.

04.21 In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump's Attack on Public Lands

High Crimes

04.24 Nothing to See Here: The U.S. Government Prevents Investigations Into War Crimes in Afghanistan

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

04.24 Capitalism is failing workers. People want a job with a decent wage – why is that so hard?

04.24 The kings of capitalism are finally worried about the growing gap between rich and poor

04.23 The “disintegration” of global capitalism could unleash world war 3, warns top EU economist

04.23 The financial sector must be at the heart of tackling climate change [A reversal of their history of bad behavior]

04.21 Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron [For the good of the public and healthier economic growth, can we make government and financial markets behave morally?]

International & Futurism

04.23 'You did not act in time': Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs [1:43 video]

04.23 To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

04.21 Frustration grows among migrants in Mexico as support fades

04.21 Decrying 'Toxic Alliance' of Macron and Polluters, Climate Campaigners Stage One of France's Largest Ever Acts of Civil Disobedience

04.21 Yellow Vests Demonstrate in Paris as Notre Dame Donations Highlight Wealth Inequality

04.21 The Observer view on the Mueller report: Trump is a disgrace not welcome in Britain

04.21 The Government Is Still Massively Complacent About Climate Change

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  NYT Admits Getting Duped on ACORN

MERE APOLOGY ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH:

NYT Admits Getting Duped on ACORN

by Robert Parry
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier yesterday, 21 March 2010

The New York Times admits, sort of, that it got duped by right-wing propagandists who appear to have succeeded in a plot to destroy ACORN, an organization that has aided and defended the poor and powerless across the United States for four decades.

In an op-ed column Sunday, the Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt said he has reviewed the available information and concluded that some key points of the right-wing video presentation were false or misleading, including the claim that right-wing media activist James O’Keefe showed up at ACORN offices dressed in a pimp costume before getting legal advice on setting up a brothel.

“O’Keefe almost certainly did not go into the Acorn offices in the outlandish costume — fur coat, goggle-like sunglasses, walking stick and broad-brimmed hat — in which he appeared at the beginning and end of most of his videos,” Hoyt wrote, adding that the Times was considering a correction regarding its earlier reporting that had accepted this misleading point.

Hoyt also acknowledged that perhaps the most damning part of the ACORN sting story was wrong: ACORN staffers did not go along with a plan to use under-aged Salvadoran girls as prostitutes. Indeed, the staffers may have thought they were helping to protect the girls.

After reviewing transcripts provided by a conservative organization, Hoyt accepted a criticism of the Times made by the liberal media critics at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, that the Times' earlier reporting on the video gave the impression that O’Keefe and his supposed girlfriend were going to exploit the girls as prostitutes. FAIR said the fuller transcript suggests that the ACORN staffers thought the couple was trying “to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp.”

“That’s right,” Hoyt wrote, regarding FAIR’s characterization of the child-prostitute point.

However, Hoyt, who earlier had chastised the Times for not jumping on the ACORN scandal faster, insisted that the ACORN employees still deserved criticism for not objecting to other apparent illegalities in O’Keefe’s fictitious schemes. Hoyt said the ACORN workers should have protested any plans regarding a brothel, noting that one ACORN worker blithely warned, “Don’t get caught, ‘cause it is against the law.”

In other words, Hoyt isn’t ready to admit that he joined the Times in a rush to judgment and thus helped destroy ACORN, which has seen its funding dry up, has shuttered many of its offices, and is expected to file for bankruptcy soon.

Liberal Fears

The ACORN case also underscores how vulnerable liberal and leftist groups are to the Right’s enormous media power. One environmental activist told me recently that every progressive organization in Washington lives in fear that one mis-dotted “I”or one mis-crossed “T” could mean the end.

The massive right-wing media – stretching from magazines, newspapers and books to radio, TV and the Internet – also gives the Right the capability of stampeding the mainstream press against some disfavored politician or even against another media outlet that digs up unwelcomed information.

Think back, for instance, to 2004 and how a few right-wing operatives smeared Sen. John Kerry over his Vietnam War service, as CNN and other key mainstream outlets bought into the tales.

Or how right-wing bloggers put in play a claim that CBS’s “60 Minutes -2” had published bogus memos about George W. Bush blowing off his Vietnam-era National Guard duty. The right-wing claim was that IBM Selectric typewriters in the early 1970s couldn’t do superscripts for the “th” or “st” after a number, when, in fact, they could.

Even though the Selectric claim proved false – and despite the fact that the content of the purported memos was true – CBS succumbed to furious complaints from Bush’s media defenders. Four producers were fired; longtime anchor Dan Rather was forced out; and the program was shut down.

So, from the point of view of mainstream journalists, it’s clear that the smart career path is to run with the right-wing stampedes – and never to get caught in the way.

Yet, the American Left continues to downplay or ignore the need to support independent media that could resist or counter the Right’s pressures.

That means that virtually all the meaningful pressure on the mainstream media comes from the Right. The most that progressives can hope for is something like the tepid commentary from Hoyt, in which a few points are accepted and the Times is portrayed more as a victim than as part of a journalistic lynch mob that dragged ACORN to its demise.

Regarding the point that ACORN employees did not give helpful advice to some guy in a “pimp” costume – since O’Keefe wasn’t wearing the costume – Hoyt wrote: “It is easy to see why The Times and other news organizations got a different impression.

“At one point, as the videos were being released, O’Keefe wore the get-up on Fox News, and a host said he was ‘dressed exactly in the same outfit he wore to these Acorn offices.’ He did not argue.”

Even Andrew Breitbart, the person who promoted the damaging video, conceded that the pimp costume was a hoax. “I am under the impression that at no time was he [O’Keefe] ever dressed as an elaborate pimp” in the ACORN offices, Breitbart said.

Instead, O’Keefe apparently was dressed quite respectably, wearing a blue shirt and chinos. Hoyt said he could not reach O’Keefe – who was arrested recently over another undercover video attempt which led to a criminal charge for allegedly tampering with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office phones.

Regarding O'Keefe's pimp costume, Hoyt concluded that “I am satisfied that The Times was wrong on this point, and I have been wrong in defending the paper’s phrasing” of its stories, which included reference to O’Keefe’s “gaudy guise” as a pimp.

Hoyt also acknowledged that the devastating charge that ACORN employees acquiesced to the use of child prostitutes was misleading.

Defending the Times

Yet, despite those admissions, Hoyt defended the overall negative tenor of the stories about ACORN.

“Acorn’s supporters appear to hope that the whole story will fall apart over the issue of what O’Keefe wore: if that was wrong, everything else must be wrong,” Hoyt wrote. “The record does not support them.”

Hoyt argued that ACORN employees still should have objected strenuously when O’Keefe and his “prostitute” girl friend outlined illegal acts. Hoyt noted that even ACORN officials have conceded that some low-level staffers were not adequately trained in responding to such situations.

For its part, FAIR has tried to push the onus onto the Times and other mainstream news outlets that bought into the video uncritically. According to FAIR, the Times’ version of events was “wildly misleading.”

In an "action alert," FAIR maintained that Hoyt and the Times failed to vet Breitbart’s online video to determine whether it was cut and spliced to make the ACORN workers look bad. FAIR's complaint could apply to the rest of the major U.S. news media, too.

This line of argument has similarities to the Right’s complaint about CBS using the questioned National Guard memos about Bush in 2004. Even though those memos were never shown to be fabrications, the producers were nevertheless fired for not going the extra mile in authenticating them.

It is sure bet, however, that no one at the Times will be fired for failing to fully check out the anti-ACORN videos. At most, ACORN and its defenders might get a mealy-mouthed “correction” from the Times that won’t admit much and may use the opportunity to reprise the attacks on ACORN.

While this media double standard may be outrageous, it is what the American Left can expect until it gets serious about investing in media.


Robert Parry

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on March 19, 2010.

 

Public Service Ads: