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How Bias at the NYT Helped Kill ACORN

So, the New York Times finally ran a correction. But after six weeks of “considering” the errors in its own reporting, the Times’ correction of its misleading ACORN story, came way, way, WAY to late.

The correction ran the same day that the anti-poverty group ACORN called it quits, after a year under attack — and a day after the paper’s public editor wrote that yes indeed, the paper has “mistakenly reinforced falsehoods” from right wing activists against the group.

When right-wing journo-hucksters released videos appearing to show ACORN workers offering advice to people posing as a pimp and a prostitute, the Times fell for an editing trick. The videos gave the impression that two hucksters were dressed in outlandish costumes when they visited ACORN offices. They weren’t.

Video transcripts also contradicted what the video makers claimed, namely that ACORN staffers appeared to endorse talk of using underage girls as prostitutes. The Times also fell for that. In fact, the transcript reveals that ACORN staffers believed they were discussing a plan to protect two girls.

Responding to a complaint from the media critics at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Hoyt said Sunday that the paper’s editors were “considering issuing a correction.”

They’d had six weeks (since the transcript was first brought to their attention) for that. “Considering.” Synonyms include chewing over, cogitating, contemplating. Just what were they contemplating?

What Times readers might want to consider is New York Times prejudice. If Hoyt and his friends had been taken for a ride by the Yes Men, say, who regularly pose as captains of industry saying outrageous (or not so outrageous) things — would the paper have cogitated over a correction for weeks?

Members of the group Code Pink pulled off a hoax Tuesday by releasing a fake press release in AIPAC’s name calling for a complete freeze on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. Think the Times would have fallen so unquestioningly for that?

Here’s something to consider. The paper fact-checks allegations from left leaning groups — to death. The contemplation-of-a-correction story is less about bad reporting than bias. The Times seems to have considered ACORN guilty from the start.

In ACORN’s case, the patient’s dead. But that doesn’t mean the doctor shouldn’t be struck off.

WORDS THAT STICK

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Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

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