ROBERT PARRY, COMMON DREAMS - 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
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
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, â€˜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
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.
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