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September 27, 2009

NYT Reporter Scrubbed ACORN Quote Report Because He Didn't Want To Imply They Were Lying

Remember when ACORN issued a statement saying O'Keefe and Giles were turned away for their NY office but in fact they had received advice for their proposed scheme? Well the Times kindly edited the quote for ACORN so readers didn't know that ACORN's statement was 'no longer operative'.

According the NY Times' Public Editor the reporter says he scrubbed that quote because he didn't want to imply ACORN was lying.

Scott Shane, the reporter, said he had been unable to reach Lewis and felt that including New York among the cities she mentioned would have implied unfairly that she was lying, something for which he had no evidence. He said he thought it was unlikely that employees in New York would inform her of their misconduct before the video appeared.

Awww, wasn't that sweet of Mr. Shane?

I'm no big time journalist like Mr. Shane but perhaps instead of taking it upon himself to act as Bertha Lewis' defense counsel he might have noted in his story that since the statement was released another tape has surfaced and that Lewis had not been available for comment on the new revelation.

There might have been an issue of fairness if the tape had been released 5 minutes before Shane's deadline. In that case Lewis might not have had time to respond and Shane and the Times would have to decide whether to hold the story or run it with the "not available for comment' tag. Those are legitimate choices. editing a quote because you can't image a public figure in the midst of a breaking scandal would lie? No, that's not a legitimate option.

BTW- I wouldn't buy the 'too close to the deadline idea' (not that the Times' is crying that). The NY tape broke on Biggovernment.com at 12:35am, September 14th. Shane's story didn't run in the paper until September 16th. That means that Lewis had all day on the 14th and 15th to correct that statement before Shane's story ran.

Sorry, just because a public figure elects not to comment on a breaking story for two days doesn't mean you clean it up for them.

Now, I could be wrong about the timeline but I just showed my work. You can check it, disagree and pull it apart. Mr. Shane's readers only had his word for what Lewis said and he didn't convey it correctly.

That difference is one of the key factors in the battle between old media and new. With so many direct sources now, a lot of people aren't satisfied with what The Deciders are deciding.

Added thought: Why does it matter whether or not Lewis knew the facts? She released the statement. If she jumped ahead of her knowledge of the situation that's her problem, not the Times'.

The fact that she didn't know all of the facts before shooting off a statment gives credence to the point of the videos...ACORN is an out of control organization.

Does Mr. Shane contact every person who releases a press statement to ask them if the are sure, really, really sure, they have all their ducks in a row and want their press release published?

I doubt it.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:52 AM

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