After calling O'Keefe's ACORN hoax "legitimate," WaPo ombudsman ignores his paper's errors

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Last year, Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander took his paper to task for "tardiness" in chasing after James O'Keefe's ACORN "video sting," calling it a "legitimate" story and suggesting the Post is "Wrongly Deaf to Right-Wing Media."

Alexander's column was absurd in both the specific (O'Keefe's ACORN videos were heavily edited and the story anything but "legitimate") and the broad (Alexander has steadfastly refused to even attempt to reconcile his repeated intimations of liberal bias at the Post with the paper's treatment of, among other subjects, Al Gore and the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq.)

And when O'Keefe's fraudulent ACORN "reporting" unraveled, Alexander kept quiet, never once acknowledging that he had endorsed the legitimacy of a complete hoax. In light of O'Keefe's latest assault on journalism and decency, Alexander has another opportunity to do so.

See, the Washington Post has twice suggested in the past week that when O'Keefe visited ACORN offices, he did so dressed as a pimp. That simply is not true.

And yet the Post's Alexandra Petri wrote last week:

It was a "punk" set-up by James O'Keefe, the same guy who famously dressed up as a pimp to interview members of ACORN. Say what you will, this guy is willing to commit.

And the Post's Reliable Source added:

You remember O'Keefe: He's the activist who launched into national politics with an undercover video indicting community organization ACORN (he was dressed like a pimp) and arrested in January for trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.

Blogger Brad Friedman has notified Alexander, among other Post employees, of the falsehood, but it remains uncorrected several days later.

That, unfortunately, is not particularly surprising, given that the Post has not corrected a September 18, 2009 article that implied O'Keefe was dressed in a garish pimp costume inside ACORN offices:

The proposition was outrageous, outlandish, and right up James E. O'Keefe III's alley. Hannah Giles was on the phone from the District, and she was asking him to dress like her pimp, walk into the offices of the ACORN community activist group, openly admit to wanting to buy a house to run as a brothel, and see what happened.


O'Keefe, 25, packed his grandfather's old wide-brimmed derby hat from his swing-dancing days, his grandmother's ratty chinchilla shoulder throw, and a cane he bought at a dollar store, then drove from his parents' home in northern New Jersey to the District to execute the idea with Giles, 20.

What happened next was a scandal that has shaken ACORN to its core. O'Keefe and Giles secretly videoed ACORN workers in the District, Brooklyn and Baltimore as they coached the secret filmmakers on how to evade taxes and misrepresent the nature of their business enterprise to get into a home.

So Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander vouched for the legitimacy of an illegitimate story, rebuking his paper for "tardiness" in echoing James O'Keefe's bogus attacks on ACORN. And now he sits silently as Post reporters perpetuate the myth that O'Keefe was dressed in a garish pimp outfit inside ACORN offices. You might expect this sort of behavior from, say, Post columnist George Will. But this is the paper's ombudsman. Incredible.

The Washington Post
James O'Keefe, Andrew Alexander
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