Joe Conason points out that the New York Times never quite got around to reporting the revelations that showed Andrew "Dim" Breitbart's ACORN vide
July 23, 2010

Joe Conason points out that the New York Times never quite got around to reporting the revelations that showed Andrew "Dim" Breitbart's ACORN videos were carefully edited to show wrongdoing. This nasty, scum-sucking piece of work has gotten away with it one too many times and I think this would be a really good time for them to rectify that omission, don't you?

For months, Breitbart continued to resist every request that he release the full, unedited ACORN videotapes, which ought to have alerted editors and producers that something was wrong. But then in the course of the California investigation, Brown struck a plea deal with O’Keefe, who was in jeopardy of indictment for violating the state’s privacy laws. (According to Brown’s final report, "the facts presented here strongly suggests that O’Keefe and Giles violated state privacy laws and provides fair warning to them and others that this type of activity can be prosecuted in California.") The plea agreement deal forced O’Keefe to turn over the complete set of tapes to state investigators. Brown’s verdict on their misuse was scathing. "The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality," he said. "Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."

Meanwhile, Times public editor Clark Hoyt, like his colleagues in other mainstream outlets, has been forced to acknowledge gross errors in the paper’s coverage – such as the false claim, encouraged by Breitbart and Fox, that O’Keefe went into the ACORN offices "dressed so outlandishly [as a pimp] that he might have been playing in a risqué high school play." In fact, the filmmaker never wore his ridiculous pimp regalia into a single ACORN office, always dressing instead like a buttoned-down junior accountant.

Amazingly, the New York Times never covered the Harshbarger report and gave little or no coverage to the other deconstructions of the Big Government “scoop” by law enforcement. Last March, when Hoyt finally offered an excuse for the failure of the Times to adequately correct and explain the complex truth behind Breitbart’s ACORN scam, it sounded weak:

The report by Harshbarger…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.”

Since then much more evidence has emerged, without generating the kind of reassessment that is overdue. Now Breitbart has struck again, manipulating a gullible media establishment and a frightened administration in an attempt to destroy the reputation of an innocent federal employee.

Even today, despite overwhelming proof that he posted a snippet of the Sherrod video without any pretense of due journalistic diligence, he replies with taunts and gibes rather than any honest answers. His latest smear is to claim that the white farmers who vouched for Sherrod are not who they claim to be. On CNN, he brazenly demanded that John King explain how the cable network had determined their authenticity. Coming from a self-styled journalist who has admitted that he never sought to fact-check the ACORN or Sherrod tapes, this is audacity verging on insanity.

Like the late Joe McCarthy, Breitbart smears both reflexively and with premeditation. And like McCarthy, he badly needs someone to show the public how he does his dirty work.

So here at last is an opportunity for the Times and all the other media outlets that aided and abetted the ACORN fraud to restore a minimum level of standards and honor. Investigate Breitbart, O’Keefe, Giles and the making and editing of the ACORN tapes without fear or favor -- then report the findings on page one.

Of course, I won't be sitting here holding my breath. I still remember when the Times finally printed the news that the Clintons had been cleared of wrongdoing in the Whitewater circus -- a "story" that was pushed viciously by one of their own reporters, the recipient of countless false right-wing leaks. The New York Times did eventually print a small acknowledgement buried deep in the first section, somewhere in the middle of the page.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.