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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2010 12:30pm PT  

Among the many delights in this eminently-watchable video response by the indefatigable voice-over actor D.C. Douglas, aka "Lance Baxter," aka "D.C. Douglas L. Baxterstein, Jr.," who was recently fired by Geico in the wake of an Andrew Breitbart-fueled, FreedomWorks complaint campaign after he "drunk dialed a cyncial GOP-funded astroturf organization funded by a man with Dick in his name," is this tag near the video's end...

This public service announcement brought to you by:
The Andrew Breitbart Is To The Internet
What Gonorrhea Is To Your Genitals Fund

Enjoy...


[Hat-tip Gryhpen at Immoral Minority]

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Competing ads, a rare instance of investigative journalism and a hard-right embrace of AZ's Apartheid 'Pass Law,' helps close Poizner's gap against front-runner Whitman...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/16/2010 10:31pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In "Meg Whitman, Wall Street, 'Billionaire Sociopaths' and the Media 'Substance Deficit,'" we noted:

Californians have been drawn within the cross-hairs of a propaganda blitz bought and paid for by Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, who, since declaring her intent to run for governor in February, 2009, has already contributed $59 million of her own money to her "campaign" --- a one-sided political phenomenon which has seen a stealth candidate, with disturbing connections to Goldman Sachs, soar to the top of the polls because the electoral process has been emasculated by the absence of mandatory debates and meaningful investigative journalism.

Now comes a SurveyUSA poll, conducted May 6-9, revealing that Whitman's once commanding lead over CA Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has all but evaporated. Where she led Poizner by 22% on April 22, Whitman is now said to hold a meager 2% lead. One suspects that, in the wake of a hard-hitting, front page May 12 Los Angeles Times article, "Whitman's words put spotlight on deeds," Whitman's once-commanding lead may soon become a deficit.

The Los Angeles Times followed up on May 13 with a separate piece, "Companies challenged Poizner business claims," which revealed that a major portion of Poizner's wealth was acquired when SnapTrack Inc., the company Poizner founded, was sold to Qualcomm. Poizner claims SnapTrack invented mobile-phone GPS technology. In pending lawsuits, other companies accused SnapTrack of infringing intellectual property rights, and, the Times reports, "as SnapTrack developed its GPS technology, Poizner faced another test of his entrepreneurial skills, as a special interest trying to bend the Washington regulatory process his way."

The drastic change in the recent public opinion polls is tied not only to the fact that her fellow billionaire Poizner unleashed his own paid-for propaganda (ad) blitz, deconstructing Whitman's one-sided narrative. Nor is the change tied only to hard-hitting, if overdue, front page newspaper exposés on the facts behind how these two rapacious "business people" amassed their fortunes.

Disturbingly, Poizner's late gain in the polls may be attributed to his open embrace of Arizona's version of apartheid South Africa's infamous "pass laws." Poizner's is a cynically calculated effort to scapegoat immigrants while deflecting attention from the true source of California's fiscal woes: the very same billionaire sociopath economics in which both he and Whitman amassed their fortunes...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2010 1:35pm PT  

Lewis Black knocked it outta the park on last night's The Daily Show...

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Corporate greed masquerading as the 'Taxpayer's Right to Vote,' and another example of the corporate perversion of the 'citizens initiative' process in California...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/9/2010 7:19pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On California's June ballot this year, a measure paid for and deceptively represented by one major corporate sponsor, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), purports to be a "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act." In truth, the initiative represents one corporation's attempt to pervert the "citizen's initiative" process by spending millions to deceive voters into believing they can push back against the vaguely socialist-sounding notion of "government-run electric service."

The measure is anything but a "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," and that name itself has even been out-and-out rejected for use on the ballot by the state's Attorney General --- not that it has stopped PG&E from misleadingly selling it that way to the public in a multi-million dollar television ad buy and direct-mail propaganda campaign...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2010 11:07am PT  

Hilarious. Fox "News" refuses to run the following :30 second ad --- which MSNBC and CNN have already been running without problem --- from VoteVets.org, on the grounds that it's "too confusing", according to Ben Smith at Politico:


"Too confusing"? The only thing too confusing about it for Fox "News" viewers, perhaps, is that it may not sync up with their spoon-fed Republican/Fossil Fuel Industry political propaganda programming. The ad might just blow their circuits or something.

Why anybody still refers to that network without putting quotes around the word "News," as we have been doing here for years, is beyond us. And oh yeah, why does Fox "News" hate both the troops and free speech?!

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By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2010 8:52am PT  

I wonder why those who were so "outraged" about supposed ACORN corruption (even though it all turned out to be fabricated Rightwing fiction) are not outraged in the slightest about the latest alleged corruption of Blackwater which has now resulted in an actual federal indictment of its former President.

Andrew Breitbart's big big big "Big Government" website, which made its name last year by publishing the phony ACORN "Pimp" Hoax videos hasn't found time to even mention last week's criminal indictments of top Blackwater officials, despite the company receiving BILLIONS in federal tax-payer dollars --- versus the millions ($3.5m/year on average) that ACORN received over the last 15 years.

It's as if Breitbart and his Tea Bag Boyz don't actually care about corruption of federal tax-payer dollars. Hell, they don't even seem to care about actual prostitution --- even CHILD prostitution --- rings being run on the Government dime, since Blackwater is also fighting two different court cases in which former employees allege the company did exactly that, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with their BILLIONS in federal tax dollars. Yet still not a peep about that either on any of Andy's websites. Go figure.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2010 11:19am PT  
(ED NOTE 4/9/10: ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis was my guest on Wednesday night while I was guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show. My interview with her can now be heard here. - Brad)

Finally, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow covers the actual phony ACORN tapes themselves by airing the newly release unedited versions, since CA AG Jerry Brown forced hoaxsters O'Keefe and Giles to turn them over in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution, as we noted in our coverage last Friday. (That coverage also includes links to the full, unedited versions of the tapes, clips of which Maddow aired last night, as seen below.)

Maddow slams the entire hoax as pulled off by O'Keefe, Giles and their employer/publisher/con-man Andrew Breitbart, and aptly describes it as "a dishonest political stunt that bears no resemblance to journalism"...


For the record, yes, as Maddow notes, Fox "News" endlessly pimped the phony ACORN tapes and got the story completely --- and likely purposely --- wrong. But it should also be noted that so did New York Times, AP, Baltimore Sun, CNN, New York Post, Washington City Paper, Philadelphia Daily News, NPR, Dallas Morning News and many many more, some of which are listed here. Haven't checked, but I'm guessing somewhere along the line on MSNBC they got it wrong as well. All should correct the record and issue apologies the many folks who were damaged by the utterly irresponsible coverage, or, as O'Keefe and Breitbart might describe it (but only when it adversely affects their partisan political agenda), "journalistic malpractice".

Almost none have issued such corrections and apologies to date. Though the NYTimes pulled a neat trick recently by completely disappearing the "pimp" from their latest coverage.

And, no, since several have brought this up to us via email and in comments, Maddow didn't mention The BRAD BLOG in the report above or in her blog item/text transcript, or her similarly excellent report filed on the show last Friday. Should she have? I'll leave that to others to decide. We don't cover this stuff for either credit or attribution, though it's true that appropriate attribution can make it easier for folks like us to continue the type of independent, progressive, investigative reporting that we suspect Maddow appreciates.

(On that note, our thanks to John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent who has been particularly generous towards our coverage in his recently related articles, both last night in his story on Maddow's coverage, and several days ago on the CA AG's ACORN findings. We also appreciate the far-too-kind closing thoughts in this post from Jill at "Brilliant at Breakfast".)

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Unreleased raw footage reviewed by AG Jerry Brown's investigation was obtained from Rightwing activists O'Keefe and Giles in exchange for immunity from prosecution
Contradicting MSM coverage, O'Keefe 'never claimed he was a pimp,' 'did not act as a journalist'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2010 10:36pm PT  

Echoing the recent report of the Kings County, NY, District Attorney who completed a five-month probe finding "no criminality" seen in video tapes secretly taken of low-level ACORN and ACORN Housing workers last year in New York, California's Attorney General has now reached a similar conclusion regarding videos recorded in three different cities in the Golden State last Summer, according to a report released today which finds the workers "committed no violation of criminal law."

While describing "highly inappropriate behavior" by some of the workers caught on secret video tapes made by Rightwing activists, CA AG Jerry Brown's report finds that "the evidence does not show that the ACORN employees in California violated state criminal laws in connection with their conversations" with activists posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend.

In a press release announcing his 28-page report [PDF] (and accompanying 55 pages of attachments and exhibits [PDF] with it), the AG's office says the publicly released videos taken in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino were "severely edited."

Brown's statement in the announcement is highly critical of Rightwing activists James O'Keefe III and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute and her law school boyfriend in the videos posted on Rightwing media mogul Andrew Breitbart's "Big Government" website last year and played extensively on Fox News, as well as other non-partisan media outlets.

"The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality," says Brown in the statement. "Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."

His report notes that the office's "investigation has involved attorneys from all three legal divisions – Criminal Law, Public Rights, and Civil Law – as well as Special Agents from the Department’s Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence" and included a review of "the unedited recordings made by O’Keefe and Giles."

In exchange for "immunity from prosecution," O'Keefe and Giles provided "the full, unedited videotapes" to Brown's office who, therefore, "did not determine if they violated California's Invasion of Privacy Act" when secretly recording the ACORN workers. Those workers, he notes in his report, may still "be able to bring a private suit against O'Keefe and Giles for recording a confidential conversation without consent."

O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart have previously refused to release the unedited footage of their videos publicly. Brown's report details why they likely did not wish to, as important, often exculpatory details from each encounter were not included in the edited versions, released to much partisan fanfare last year.

The unedited California videos have now been posted on the CA Attorney General's website. (They are also linked at the end of this article.) The press release also notes that the AG has unedited tapes from other cities outside of California as well. The BRAD BLOG has made a request for those videos from the office of the Attorney General.

'Severely Edited'

The description of the videos as "severely edited" also echoes the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, which was quoted as describing them as a "heavily edited splice job" when his report was released several weeks ago.

Brown's report also echoes an independent investigation [PDF] released by former MA Attorney General Scott Harshbarger early last December, but unreported in the New York Times and many others. That report was commissioned by ACORN as an external review. In it, Harshbarger found serious organizational concerns with the four-decade old community organizing group, but "no pattern of criminality" as seen in any of the highly-edited, heavily-overdubbed video tape releases.

Despite repeated official investigations finding a complete lack of criminality in any of the O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart tapes --- other than by the filmmakers themselves, who may have broken the law in at least two different states by secretly taping workers --- ACORN recently announced that the publicity from the hoax videos had succeeded in drying up their private funding, and forced them to shutter their doors as of today.

Of the four ACORN employees O'Keefe and Giles met with in three different California cities, none "committed, solicited or conspired to commit any criminal acts," says Brown in his report. "There is no evidence that any of the ACORN employees had the intent to aid and abet such criminal conduct or agreed to join in [O'Keefe and Giles purported] illegal conduct."

The Attorney General also confirms that O'Keefe never appeared in any of the offices "dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp," as he had been edited to appear at the beginning and end of each of the videos. Neither did O' Keefe ever claim to be a pimp to any of the workers whose good natures, AG Brown says, O'Keefe and Giles preyed upon...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2010 3:13pm PT  

Sorry this took a few days to get posted. Have been busy. As noted last week, on Saturday I made my third appearance in as many years at the annual "L.A. Media Reform Summit" sponsored by CA Common Cause. It was again held at Occidental College, and I was honored to serve as their keynote speaker for the first time this year.

Below is the video of my full speech, in which I discussed the serious crisis we now face as our corporate mainstream media hit full fail mode. That point, as I argued, is exemplified by 1) the massive failures of the old "dead tree" media to meet their constitutional responsibilities to help protect the public from bad guys (as illustrated by the NYTime's months of damaging and flagrant misreporting on the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax, as we've been covering at The BRAD BLOG for months), and 2) the full, rightwing take-over of nearly every inch of the public's broadcast spectrum by a handful of corporations that do not meet their FCC license obligations to manage those airwaves in the public's interest (as we've been covering at The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere for years).

I also discussed your responsibility in doing something about both of those serious problems!

The video is posted below the fold, since it's about 40 minutes in all, and might otherwise get interupted by the main page's auto-refresh routines. Enjoy. And get to work!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2010 3:28pm PT  

I appeared earlier this afternoon on RT (formerly "Russia Today"), an English-language Russian news service seen in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Despite yesterday's six-months-late admission from the New York Times that they were repeatedly bamboozled by the Rightwing con-artists who produced deceptively edited hit videos in order to take down ACORN (which they successfully did), U.S. television --- including those so-called "liberal" bastions like CNN and MSNBC --- don't seem to much care that the entire thing was a hoax from the jump. At least they've yet to cover it, while RT has done so with at least three live hits over the past 24 hours.

Once again, RT seems to have more interest in issues that actually effect Americans than American broadcast news outlets do. Here's my choppy web-cam appearance earlier today.


Yesterday, my colleague and friend David Swanson was also a guest on RT to discuss the ACORN issue, as was nationally syndicated radio host Thom Hartmann. Both of those short segments are posted below and well worth watching...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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In addition to being wrong, no apology nor explanation offered
Errors already repeated in separate story for tomorrow's paper...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2010 10:31pm PT  

The once-great New York Times has now become the new shame of this nation. Tonight they have run a "correction" concerning their repeated misreporting of the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax for tomorrow's papers. And, as you'll see below, it's pathetic --- simply pathetic --- and still inaccurate.

It has been...

  • ...six months after the New York Times ran their first incorrect story on the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax;

  • ...five months since their ombudsman and reader's representative Public Editor Clark Hoyt (Public@NYTimes.com) chided the paper for waiting "nearly a week" before reporting on the phony videos, and announcing the assignment of a new editor to specifically follow "the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio";
  • ...almost four months since the former MA Attorney General correctly reported [PDF] what had really gone on in those ACORN offices (though his report was entirely ignored by the NYT until last weekend);
  • ...two months after their Senior Editor for Standards Greg Brock (SeniorEditor@NYTimes.com) wrote via email that James O'Keefe "appeared on a live Fox show wearing what HE said was the same exact costume he wore to ACORN's offices...We believe him. Therefore there is nothing for us to correct";
  • ...two months after Hoyt (Public@NYTimes.com) wrote via email to back up the editors and the paper's reporting to say that "The story says O'Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time";
  • ...two days after Hoyt finally admitted in his column that "The Times was wrong…and I have been wrong in defending the paper's phrasing" and that "Editors say they are considering a correction";
  • ...and on the very same day that ACORN announced they were shutting their doors on April 1 following a lack of funding, in light of the damage done by the highly-doctored, falsely promoted and inaccurately reported hit videos released by known Rightwing partisan propagandists and liars...

...the "paper of record" has issued a correction for tomorrow's papers, in which they repeat the falsehood that James O'Keefe "posed as a pimp" in ACORN offices. He didn't. He posed as the fake prostitute's law school boyfriend trying to help save her from a pimp who had stalked and threatened to kill her, as a review of even O'Keefe's own unauthenticated text-transcripts show.

Here is the absolutely shameful squib published tonight on the web, and running in tomorrow's paper, along with just the shortest explanation of how they are still getting it completely wrong, but don't seem to care...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'Mission Accomplished' for anti-democracy GOP scam artists...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2010 12:43pm PT  

Just one day after the New York Time's Public Editor Clark Hoyt finally admitted that both he and his paper were "wrong" in the way, for the last six months, they unskeptically and inaccurately covered the Rightwing hoaxsters who released doctored-up, heavily-overdubbed, secretly-taped hit videos targeting the national community organization ACORN, largely for their work in legally registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters so they could have their voice heard in their own democracy, the group is announcing that it will be "bringing its operations to a close".

We should take the time to note here, since the corporate mainstream media likely will not, that there is no evidence that any vote has ever been cast illegally in any election vis a vis an improper registration by an ACORN worker. Of the very few ACORN workers found to have submitted illegal registrations, almost every one of them was turned in to officials by ACORN themselves. Again: no voter ever registered improperly by an ACORN worker has ever cast a single vote in any election.

The following statement has just been sent to The BRAD BLOG by ACORN spokesperson Kevin Whelan concerning the group's plan to shut down:

In a organizational statement released today, ACORN said:

The ACORN Association Board met on Sunday March 21 and approved a set of steps to responsibly manage the process of bringing its operations to a close over the coming months. These include:

  • Closing ACORN's remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1st; and
  • Developing a plan to resolve all outstanding debts, obligations and other issues.

ACORN's members have a great deal to be proud of--from promoting to homeownership to helping rebuild New Orleans, from raising wages to winning safer streets, from training community leaders to promoting voter participation --- ACORN members have worked hard to create stronger communities, a more inclusive democracy, and a more just nation.

Neither Andrew Breitbart nor James O'Keefe, the partisan propagandists who created and published the scam videos which ultimately helped to destroy the valuable community group, could be reached for comment to learn whether or not they planned to target widows' and orphans' groups next.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, however, issued the following statement over the weekend as a reminder of the group's successes, in light of the now-successful years-long Rightwing hit job intended to cripple the organization for having the temerity to be one of those thousand points of light you've heard about, helping the neglected and the poor in our society --- more than 400,000 low-income families in 75 cities --- the folks who need such help the most...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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UPDATE: Rightwing thinktank fires Frum following column...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2010 12:31pm PT  

And the far-too-rarely bestowed BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative Award" goes today to David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, for his article last night on "Waterloo". Here are a few money quotes:

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.
...
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.
...
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
...
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.

UPDATE 3/26/10: Frum is fired by rightwing American Enterprise Institute, where he's been employed since 2003, after having the temerity to pen the above. Guess the Right isn't into that whole "liberty" and "free speech" thing as much as they pretend to be. Who knew? Details...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2010 3:11pm PT  

Much needed weekend comedy/satire break... I can't even conceive of Jon Stewart not winning any Emmy for his remarkable channeling of Glenn Beck, which aired on Thursday night. It's just about as "MUST SEE" as they get...

And, later that same night, Stephen Colbert piled on to the psychotic menace to society that is Glenn Beck as well...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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President of National Housing Institute decries: 'Act of defunding ACORN by Congress is a national disgrace'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2010 4:06pm PT  

"This reporting was done by not just the right-wing press, but every one of the mainstream press, and I’m talking about...the New York Times," said John Atlas, author of the new book Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Anti-Poverty Community Group on this morning's Democracy Now!.

"And there’s a whole movement out there now trying to get the public editor to go on record saying the Times botched the story," Atlas, the president of the National Housing Institute, continued.

He was on the show to discuss this week's finding by a federal judge that Congressional legislation crafted specifically to defund ACORN was unconstitutional.

"The first thing I want to say, that needs to be said over and over again, is that the act of defunding ACORN by Congress is a national disgrace. We should all be outraged about that. Basically what happened is Congress bowed to Fox News, Glenn Beck, the rest of the right-wing echo chamber --- we’re talking about the United States Congress --- and then scapegoated the most effective anti-poverty organization in the country. That’s a scandal of enormous proportions," Atlas chided.

In the bargain, he set the record straight about what ACORN does, how important their work is to those in our country who most count on them, and how the story of the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax was so unforgivably misreported over and again by the New York Times (and others) who still continue their journalistic malpractice by flat-out refusing to responsibly correct the record, as The BRAD BLOG has detailed in great length over the past several weeks.

The full transcript is posted here, the full video of the Democracy Now! segment (appx 11 mins) with Atlas, Amy Goodman, and Juan Gonzalez is below, along with excerpts from Atlas' opening comments on the important role of ACORN, and the dreadful failure of the New York Times...

JOHN ATLAS: [T]he first thing I want to say, that needs to be said over and over again, is that the act of defunding ACORN by Congress is a national disgrace. We should all be outraged about that. Basically what happened is Congress bowed to Fox News, Glenn Beck, the rest of the right-wing echo chamber—we’re talking about the United States Congress—and then scapegoated the most effective anti-poverty organization in the country. That’s a scandal of enormous proportions.

ACORN has a record of helping poor people in these hard times. They help them get homes. They help them stop foreclosures. They help them fight predatory lending. They help them register voters. I’m talking about minority voters, people who ordinarily don’t vote. Very hard to get that kind of voter registration work done. And in short, all other studies, including mine, have documented how effective ACORN has been and how important it’s been to low-income people, especially the working poor.
...
AMY GOODMAN: And remind us why they were defunded. I mean, what was the incident that precipitated this?

JOHN ATLAS: Well, as your opening said, which we can emphasize again, the immediate trigger—I’m talking about the immediate trigger—was the release of videos that appeared to show that ACORN staffers were giving advice to right-wing activists who looked like a pimp and a prostitute. And they were giving advice to them which was outrageous, which we should go into, after we talk about this case, because it turned out that that was completely misleading, that in fact he never—the guy who was posing as a pimp never showed up in this outlandish pimp outfit that we all associate with those videotapes. You know, the guy in the top hat, the cape around his shoulders, with his cane, the dark glasses, you know, he looked like a 1970s African American—you know, stereotype African American pimp. He went on TV. He said, “This is what I looked like when I was in the office.” Turned out, not true. And we should go into that, because—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain. How, then?

JOHN ATLAS: Well, it’s not true, because he edited—they took those pictures of him dressed that way, and they edited him into the tapes.

Now, before we get back into the decision, let me say this, that this reporting was done by not just the right-wing press, but every one of the mainstream press, and I’m talking about the Washington Post, the New York Times. Before I came here, I actually put together a list—I can—of times that the New York Times reported that fact, that this man was dressed like that when he was sitting in the office. And the New York Times has refused to retract this. And there’s a whole movement out there now trying to get the public editor to go on record saying the Times botched the story...

[Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenters "Jeannie Dean" and "Big Dan"]

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