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April 02, 2009

Video: Answering Machine Message from NYT Reporter to ACORN Whistleblower Says Bosses Ordered Her to "Stand Down" on Obama/ACORN Story

Captain Ed writes that there might be a deliberate redaction after "stand down."

I don't know if there's a cut there; it could be the cell phone dropping for a second. If there is a cut, though, it might rescue the Times to some extent; the reporter might have explained that her bosses were just worried about the source's reliability. (Anita Moncrief was a disgruntled employee, accused of putting personal expenses on her ACORN corporate credit card.)

But that wouldn't save the NYT, as most whistleblowers are disgruntled for one reason or another. The reporter was asked to "stand down," presumably from digging up evidence that would support Moncrief's story -- and if they bothered themselves to find such evidence, Moncrief's state of gruntledness would be irrelevant, wouldn't it?

NYT needs to explain its decisions. It apparently won't comment beyond a vague statement that they decide which stories to publish or not publish dozens of times a day.

Ms. Moncrief did get her story out a bit -- though not with anything like the follow-the-leader dissemination the NYT would have provided. Nor with the follow-on investigating that a NYT mention would have spurred throughout the press.

I also wonder how much the NYT deliberately delayed the story getting out, by promising Ms. Moncrief they'd run it if she kept it exclusive to them, delaying, delaying, delaying the whole time, hoping to keep the story from coming out before the election entirely. Until, one might guess, she demanded to know if the story would ever run, thus spurring the NYT's reporter to apologize for the spiking.

John Fund's Oct. 30, 2008 WSJ piece explains the accusations:

Ms. MonCrief testified that in November 2007 Project Vote development director Karyn Gillette told her she had direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists. Ms. MonCrief also testified she was given a spreadsheet to use in cultivating Obama donors who had maxed out on donations to the candidate, but who could contribute to voter registration efforts. Project Vote calls the allegation "absolutely false."

She says that when she had trouble with what appeared to be duplicate names on the list, Ms. Gillette told her she would talk with the Obama campaign and get a better version. Ms. MonCrief has given me copies of the donor lists she says were obtained from other Democratic campaigns, as well as the 2004 DNC donor lists.

In her testimony, Ms. MonCrief says she was upset by Acorn's "Muscle for Money" program, which she said intimidated businesses Acorn opposed into paying "protection" money in the form of grants.

She's not the only whistleblower, either:

Acorn insists it operates with strict quality controls, turning in, as required by law, all registration forms "even if the name on them was Donald Duck," as Wade Rathke told me two years ago. Acorn whistleblowers tell a different story.

"There's no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances," says Nate Toler, who worked until 2006 as the head organizer of an Acorn campaign against Wal-Mart in California. And Ms. MonCrief says it is longstanding practice to blame bogus registrations on lower-level employees who then often face criminal charges, a practice she says Acorn internally calls "throwing folks under the bus."


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posted by Ace at 12:39 PM

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