Sunday, March 21, 2010

NYT Ombudsman Blows Up ACORN Conspiracy Theory, Media Matters Hardest Hit

An exhaustive piece today from New York Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt demolishes the absurd claims made by far left outfits such as the Democrat operatives at Media Matters and FAIR, a discredited neo-Communist outfit perhaps with less credibility that 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. The record does not support them. If O’Keefe did not dress as a pimp, he clearly presented himself as one: a fellow trying to set up a woman — sometimes along with under-age girls — in a house where they would work as prostitutes. In Washington, he said the prostitution was to finance his future in politics. A worker for Acorn Housing, an allied group, warned him to stay away from the brothel lest someone “get wind that you got a house and that your girlfriend is over there running a house of women of the night. You will not have a career.”

FAIR said that in Brooklyn, O’Keefe and Giles seemed to be telling Acorn staffers that “they are attempting to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp.” That’s right, but FAIR left out the part about their clear intention to operate a brothel, which the Acorn workers seemed to take in stride, with one warning: “Don’t get caught, ’cause it is against the law.”

The videos were heavily edited. The sequence of some conversations was changed. Some workers seemed concerned for Giles, one advising her to get legal help. In two cities, Acorn workers called the police. But the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context. Harshbarger’s report to Acorn found no “pattern of illegal conduct” by its employees. But, he told me: “They said what they said. There’s no way to make this look good.”

He also said the news media should have been far more skeptical, demanding the raw video from which the edited versions were produced. “It’s outrageous that this could have had this effect without being questioned more,” he said.

The report by Harshbarger and Crafts was not covered by The Times. It should have been, but the Acorn/O’Keefe story became something of an orphan at the paper. At least 14 reporters, reporting to different sets of editors, have touched it since last fall. Nobody owns it. Bill Keller, the executive editor, said that, “sensing the story would not go away and would be part of a larger narrative,” the paper should have assigned one reporter to be responsible for it.

It remains a fascinating story. To conservatives, Acorn is virtually a criminal organization that was guilty of extensive voter registration fraud in 2008. To its supporters, Acorn is a community service organization that has helped millions of disadvantaged Americans by organizing to confront powerful institutions like banks and developers.

Harshbarger’s report focused heavily on Acorn’s “longstanding management weaknesses, including lack of training, a lack of procedures and a lack of on-site supervision” that he said provided fertile ground for O’Keefe’s sting. Lewis, who took over less than two years ago, said she has been working aggressively to reform the organization.

The story now is whether she has run out of time.
This kook from Media Matters has been in an on-going feud with Andrew Breitbart, and is still stuck deeply in denial. His reaction to Clark Hoyt cutting the legs out from his narrative?
New York Times finally comes clean about ACORN pimp hoax;
The Times comes clean? No, they just blew you out of the water.

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