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December 21, 2007

More On NYT's Bogus Hit On Giuliani... Wanna Know Which Campaign Pushed This Non-Story Into The "Paper of Record"?

Here's that story Gabe linked to. Not only did it run on page A21 -- after the NYT blared its half-baked, unvetted allegations to the world on the front pages for weeks -- but as Gabe notes it's conveniently inconvenient to post, in image form rather than an easily linked and quoted print article.

Upshot? Let me quote Powerline, digesting it:

Remember the frenzy over suggestions that, as mayor, Rudy Giuliani tried to hide his visits to Judith Nathan in the Hamptons by burying the associated security costs in the budgets of obscure mayoral agencies? Well, the New York Times has looked deeply into the matter and concluded, based on the relevant city records, that "all eight of Mr. Giuliani's trips to the Hamptons in 1999 and 2000, including the period when his relationship was a secret, were charged to his own mayoral expense account, according to the records." The Times adds: "the records reviewed so far, which account for 93 percent of the mayor travel expenses for that period, suggest that Mr. Giuliani's efforts to see Ms. Nathan, who is now his wife, had nothing to do with any accounting legerdemain.

When the relationship was a secret, the trips were billed to the Mayoral account, the one where no one can accuse him of trying to "hide" expenses. The one the NYT claims that he should have been billing the trips to. Guess what? He did.

Later in his term he began billing stuff to various agencies. Less than one percent of such "hidden" billings have anything to do with Nathan. In other words, 99% of these supposed "hidden" expenses are entirely legitimate and without any whiff of scandal. So if Giuliani was trying to "hide" travel expenses, why was he "burying" so many mundane travel expenses via this "accounting trickery"?

Furthermore, the "hidden" expenses regarding Nathan occurred after the affair was public. He didn't "hide" them when it was secret but then, with the affair openly acknowledged, he began "hiding" them via "accounting legardemain"... though again it's a mystery why he chose to "hide," say, a trip to meet the Schenectady City Council in these "secret accounts."

A21. A21 is the page upon which the Times chooses to tell you "Remember that huge scandal we endlessly promoted? Turns out it's completely wrong. It seems Giuliani's explanation, that he was just charging normal travel to other accounts for ease and quickness of payment, before his mayoral account would reimburse them, was 100% true."

The headlines have dogged Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign for weeks. "Security costs for trysts draw attention," said one. The articles questioned whether, as mayor, Mr. Giuliani tried to hide his visits to Judith Nathan in the Hamptons by burying the associated security costs in the budgets of obscure mayoral agencies like the Loft Board.

The answer is not likely, according to a review of the city records originally cited as the basis for the assertion.

All eight of Mr. Giuliani's trips to the Hamptons in 1999 and 2000, including the period when his relationship was a secret, were charged to his own mayoral expense account, according to the records.

After his affair became public, the mayor's office in 2001 did charge several trips to the Hamptons to the Assigned Counsel Plan, which was designed to coordinate legal efforts for the poor.

But the total cost of those trips, $2,474, represents less than 1 percent of the $281,338 in travel expenses that was charged to the obscure agencies.

And those expenses were not incurred until two years after Mr. Giuliani's office first began to shift some mayoral travel expenses to lesser-known units.

...

But the records reviewed so far, which account for 93 percent of the mayor travel expenses for that period, suggest that Mr. Giuliani's efforts to see Ms. Nathan, who is now his wife, had nothing to do with any accounting legerdemain.

The NYT speaks of "headlines" as if these "headlines" just snuck out of the bushes to attack Giuliani of their own malice. It was of course the NYT that breathlessly pushed this bullshit allegation, which it now retracts... on page A21. In an article (delberately?) difficult to quote. Did I mention the A21 thing?

Now, who pushed this?

I found out a while ago. It's not surprising -- it was Hillary Clinton's campaign. Her people were dilligently pushing the story all over the place, including some rather small local New York presses. Very small liberal partisan papers. Just pushing the story out there to tiny local papers in hopes that somebody, anybody, would run it and then it would get some play in the national media.

Of course she was pushing it to the NYT too. How delighted they must have been that the "Paper of Record" decided to go with it when they would have been happy with, say, the Village Voice. Or even some tiny community paper in Harlem.

How do I know? I know. Leave it be.

This reflects far more poorly on the NYT than on Hillary's diligent dirt-diggers, of course. They're supposed to push crap like this on the vaunted "gatekeepers of information." It's these self-styled gatekeepers, of course, who are actually supposed to keep unvetted, unfounded smears from rival campaigns from passing through those gates.

But they just ran with it. And ran and ran and ran. And now, actually having finally bothered to look at the records, they retract.

On Page A21.

Did I mention that?

As much as I don't like McCain, this is precisely why I doubt their big scandal story is worth a damn. Here we have a case of a non-story pushed by rival's opposition team without any real evidence to back it up and, instead of requesting all the relevant records, analyzing them, and then running the story if it panned out, the NYT instead smeared Giuliani, took charges straight from the Clinton campaign's mailing list and ran them as a page one scandal, and only now actually bothers to check the record to find out there was absolutely nothing here.

On Page A21. Just thought I'd mention that, in case I didn't.

Why is it so damnably easy for the Hillary Clinton campaign to get its smears into the MSM? Why is it that the NYT was so gung-ho to run, unvetted, an allegation so weak the Clinton campaign was shopping it to tiny neighborhood newspapers in NYC?

It's a mystery I guess we'll just never be able to solve.

PS: The other day a bit of vague dirt was dangled to me about Mike Huckabee. As you may have noticed, I'm not a fan of Mike Huckabee. The dirt similarly involved sketchy expensing.

My response was to ask the guy -- a partisan for someone else -- to firm up these very vague and sketchy claims so that I knew, precisely, what Huckabee was being accused of, so I could then see if there was any there there.

The guy replied he didn't really know. So, guess what, I didn't mention it.

It wasn't just that I had some ethics against it. It was also that I didn't want to look like a jackass peddling some dirt when I didn't even know if it was dirt. And also, I'm lazy and didn't feel like digging. If I'm being honest.

But the takeaway I'd prefer to, um, take away from this is that apparently the Ace of Spades blog has a more robust "gatekeeper" system and more effective "multiple layers of painstaking editorial oversight" than the New Fucking York Times.


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posted by Ace at 01:38 PM

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