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Clark Hoyt Has No Business Writing for Any Newspaper

New York Times "ombudsman" Clark Hoyt:

The Acorn Sting Revisited: 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.... I am satisfied that The Times was wrong on this point, and I have been wrong in defending the paper’s phrasing. Editors say they are considering a correction.... 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.... 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.... 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...

Let us rerun the videotape to remind us of what Clark Hoyt is referring to when he so-obliquey says: "I have been wrong in defending the paper's phrasing." Brad Friedman:

NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN 'Pimp' Story: The most recent article in dispute, a January 30th feature article by Jim Rutenberg and Campbell Robertson... described O'Keefe as having "made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn."

Hoyt... looked at only that one article initially, and stood behind it because, as he wrote [emphasis his]: "The story says O'Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time."

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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