New York Times finally comes clean about ACORN pimp hoax

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Bottom line: The Times got the story wrong, and public editor Clark Hoyt admits he was wrong to defend it earlier this year. And oh yeah, Times editors are "considering" publishing a correction.

Progress, I suppose. But I have to say this whole process has been rather torturous to watch as Hoyt originally dug in and refused to recommend that Times correct its faulty articles. This, after Hoyt conceded the Times got the pimp hoax story wrong.

For the record, if the complaints about a story like this had come from the Right, and not the Left, I don't think there's any chance it would've taken Hoyt well over a month to do the right thing. Keep in mind, it was Hoyt himself who scolded the daily last year for not reacting quickly enough to the all-important right-wing attack on ACORN.

But when it turns out the Times got a key piece of the story wrong (James O'Keefe did not enter the ACORN offices dressed as a pimp), the Times takes its own sweet time conceding its mistake and still, to this day, has not publically corrected its errors.

A couple of other irksome points about Hoyt effort today:

-The public editor reports that as part of his review of the story he recently interviewed Andrew Breirtbart to get to the bottom of the ACORN pimp hoax. My question is why bother? Breitbart spent nearly six months lying about the story. Why would Hoyt think it would be helpful to talk to an ACORN liar like Breitbart? Worse, Breitbart now claims he was duped by O'Keefe and that because of the way O'Keefe deceptively edited the ACORN videos, even Breirtbart was mislead and didn't know the activist was dressed in a dresse shirt and slacks inside the ACORN office. Again, why did Hoyt bother interviewing Breitbart about the pimp costume if he now claims he didn't even know the truth about the gotcha videos he relentlessly hyped?

-Rather defensively, Hoyt insists [emphasis added]:

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.

So now Hoyt's in the mind-reading business? So now Hoyt can surmise what supporters "appear to hope" in regards to the ACORN pimp hoax story? This is some very weak tea, especially coming from a public editor who is supposed to deal with the facts, and who has already mucked up this pimp story. Save us your analysis about why you think people wrote about this story, and just cover the facts as you know them.

-In his column, Hoyt credits FAIR with bringing attention to the Times' questionable ACORN pimp hoax coverage and specifically the paper's earlier refusal to correct its obvious errors. I'm glad Hoyt tipped his hat to FAIR, which helped rally supporters to the cause and put pressure on Hoyt. But it's extraordinarily disingenuous for Hoyt to not name the blogger who put this story front-and-center this year: Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog. He was the one who first put the Times on notice and who was relentless in holding the newsapepr accountable. Hoyt though, makes no reference to him, and he also fails to credit Media Matters, which has been helping to drive the story.

Those omissions seem petty on the part of Hoyt.

UPDATED: In the newspaper's comment section, Times readers tee off on Hoyt over the paper's handling of the ACORN story.

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