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NYT, Republican Opposition Rag

Clark Hoyt has a really curious final column summarizing his three years as the NYT’s public editor. A lot of it is self-congratulation to the NYT for even having a public editor. But I’m most fascinated by Hoyt’s rebuttal of reader claims that NYT is a “liberal rag.”

For all of my three years, I heard versions of Kevin Keller’s accusation: The Times is a “liberal rag,” pursuing a partisan agenda in its news columns.

[snip]

But if The Times were really the Fox News of the left, how could you explain the investigative reporting that brought down Eliot Spitzer, New York’s Democratic governor;derailed the election campaign of his Democratic successor, David Paterson; got Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, in ethics trouble; and exposed the falsehoods that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, another Democrat, was telling about his service record in the Vietnam era?

Hoyt names the Spitzer scandal, certain Paterson allegations, coverage of the Rangel scandal, and its recent Blumenthal attack as proof that the NYT is not a liberal rag.

With the exception of the Rangel coverage, these are all stories for which the source of the story is as much the issue as the story itself. Hoyt must hope we forget, for example, that Linda McMahon (Blumenthal’s opponent) boasted she fed the Blumenthal story to the NYT. Their denials that she had done so became even more unconvincing when the AP reported that the NYT hadn’t posted the full video, which undermined the NYT story.

I have no idea where the Rangel story came from (and in this case, I don’t care, because it’s clearly an important story about real abuse of power).

Then there’s Paterson. With this story, too, there’s a dispute about the NYT’s sources. Paterson says he was the NYT’s original source (they deny that too, and it’s true that this one is more likely to have been a Cuomo hit job). In any case, the NYT story fell far short of the bombshell that was promised for weeks leading up to it. Another political hit job that maybe wasn’t the story it was made out to be.

Which brings us to Eliot Spitzer. There are a number of possible sources the NYT might have relied on, starting with right wing ratfucker Roger Stone, who has bragged about being involved in that take-down. But they all, almost by definition, come down to leaks from inside a politicized DOJ. And those leaks focused not on any of the other elite Johns involved, not on the prostitution ring itself (which was, after all, exceptional only for its price tag), but on Spitzer. While I agree that Spitzer’s hypocrisy invited such a take-down, there wasn’t much legal news there, no matter how hard the press tried to invent it to justify the coverage.

But the list doesn’t end there. Elsewhere in Hoyt’s goodbye, he mentions his biggest regret–the Vicki Iseman story.

But throughout my tenure, Keller was gracious and supportive. When we had what was certainly our disagreement of greatest consequence — over the Times article suggesting that John McCain had had an extramarital affair with a young female lobbyist — Keller showed great equanimity. I said The Times had been off base. Though the story gave ammunition to critics who said the paper was biased, and it was no help to have the public editor joining thousands of readers questioning his judgment about it, Keller said mildly that we would just have to disagree on this one.

Say what you will about whether this was a worthwhile story, one with the wrong emphasis, or inappropriate scandal-mongering, it is pretty clear the Iseman part of the story came from disgruntled former Republican aides to McCain, probably in the neighborhood of John Weaver. Thus, it fits into this larger list of stories that serve not so much as proof of NYT fair-mindedness, but of its willingness to regurgitate oppo research in the service of powerful–often Republican–political opponents.

Then, finally, there’s the story that Hoyt doesn’t mention, to his significant discredit–the ACORN Pimp Hoax. Read more

TeaBugger Victimology

Oh, this is rich. Chief TeaBugger, James O’Keefe is preparing to argue that, the whole time he was sitting in jail with the son of the acting US Attorney for Shreveport, the US Attorney for New Orleans was abusing his rights.

Interviewed on Fox just moments ago, Andrew Breitbart claimed that alleged Landrieu phone tamperer James O’Keefe “sat in jail for 28 hours without access to an attorney.”

Breitbart, who has been on a public campaign defending O’Keefe, a paid contributor to Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, also charged that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisiana leaked information to the press “helping” them to frame the episode as “Watergate Junior.”

It’s all retaliation, you see, because TeaBugger O’Keefe has pressured Eric Holder to investigate ACORN based on TeaBugger O’Keefe’s own attempts to frame the organization.

Asked by Fox’s Megyn Kelly what motivation the U.S. Attorney would have to make such an effort, Breitbart responded: “Well, it’s tied to the Justice Department. And we’ve been very aggressive in asking Eric Holder to investigate what’s seen on the ACORN tapes, and he’s ignored it.”

I guess Breitbart and his little TeaBugger honestly believe that the press, faced with news of inept Republicans entering Democratic offices in disguise with the intent of “interfering” with that office’s phones, would need a cheat sheet to make the connection with Watergate?

You know, several days ago I was willing to dismiss this as a stupid juvenile prank. But given the increasing concern that the perpetrators are showing–and their increasingly dubious stories–I’m convinced it merits a closer look.

In any case, I bet that O’Keefe is going to hang this complaint on being stuck with the representation of J. Garrison Jordan for 24 hours, rather than the big name Watergate lawyer who is now representing him, Michael Madigan. Because somewhere in the Constitution, I’m certain, it says citizens are entitled to a lawyer with Watergate experience, and may not be required to make do with the representation of local lawyers.

TeaBugger O'Keefe: Liberate the Tapes!! (No, Not THOSE Tapes!)

There’s a real irony in James O’Keefe’s latest explanation for why he committed an alleged felony in an attempt to embarrass Mary Landrieu. He is now calling for the FBI to release the tapes that he and his accomplices made while in Landrieu’s office.

We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I’m eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media.

As you recall, one of the reasons why O’Keefe managed to impugn ACORN even though they had not engaged in any illegal activity is because he edited his videos significantly. He has refused, repeatedly, to release that raw video.

The unedited videos have never been made public. The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms.Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

[snip]

Experienced forensic investigators would be able to determine the extent to which the released videos have been manipulated to distort, rather than merely shape, the facts and the conversations, as ACORN alleges.

So when O’Keefe wants to rebut the FBI’s affidavit alleging that he “by false and fraudulent pretense … did in fact enter [] real property belonging to the United States for the purpose of willfully and maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States,” he’s in favor of releasing his video tapes. But when O’Keefe seeks to sustain an inaccurate narrative about ACORN’s alleged corruption, he refuses to release his tapes.

Read more