UPDATED: NYT Public Editor's office responds...
The New York Times has issued one correction to Jeremy W. Peters' error-ridden weekend puff-profile on Rightwing scam-artist Andrew Breitbart.
They corrected the error where Peters reported, just as Breitbart lied to him, that members of the NAACP applauded when they heard now-former USDA official Shirley Sherrod discuss her initial reticence at helping a white farmer decades ago. As Media Matters pointed out on Sunday, and as the Times now concedes, members of the audience didn't applaud, as Peters might have discovered simply by reviewing the video in question (otherwise known as fact-checking or reporting).
On that error, at least, the Times has now issued a correction. No correction has been issued yet, however, in response to our article on Monday detailing other errors in Peters' story, which inaccurately reported that the phony and "severely edited" "pimp" videos published by Breitbart, as created by business-partner James O'Keefe, showed "Acorn workers offering advice on how to evade taxes and conceal child prostitution."
As we pointed out on Monday (and in much greater detail long ago, in March of 2010), the ACORN workers did no such thing, in fact all of the workers secretly video-taped by O'Keefe instructed him and his partner Hannah Giles that they must pay their taxes, even on money illegally obtained through prostitution. None advised them to "evade taxes" as the Times has now defamed.
Peters says in report that "The stories and videos Mr. Breitbart plays up on his Web sites...tend to act as political Rorschach tests. If you agree with him, you think what he does is citizen journalism. If you don’t, his work is little more than crowd-sourced political sabotage that freely distorts the facts."
This is not a matter of a "Rorschach test", Mr. Peters. These are simple, independently verifiable errors of fact. ACORN workers either "offer[ed] advice on how to evade taxes" or they didn't. If you have evidence that ACORN workers did so, we'd be happy to review it. We are aware of none. Are you?
Media Matters' Eric Boehlert picked up on our Monday article, after we highlighted, once again, what the transcripts of the unedited tapes reveal actually happened in those ACORN meetings, versus the way liars like Breitbart, O'Keefe, Giles, and their minions at Fox "News" and, apparently, the New York Times have repeatedly spun it in order to fool the public. Again.
It's hardly the first time the NYTimes has flagrantly mis-reported the ACORN "pimp" hoax story, though we hope it doesn't take us six months, like last time, before we they finally issue even a partial correction. Haven't they done enough damage already?
For the record, at least five separate independent investigations (see here, here, here, here and, just last week again, here) have all concluded there was no criminality seen in any of the ACORN videos, other than by O'Keefe and Giles who are now in court defending themselves against CA Invasion of Privacy Act violations.
NYTimes Public Editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, can be politely emailed at the following address if you'd like to help encourage the "Paper of Record" to correct the record: Public@NYTimes.com.
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UPDATE 7/1/11: While Jeremy W. Peters has refused to respond to several inquiries concerning his errors, the office of the NYTimes Public Editor has note replied to thank us for our email notifying them about the errors, and to say...
This is going to take us a few days to look into, so realistically we won't have a response until later next week. Hope this is understandable.
So that's good. At least the Times finally appears to be looking into it. It's unfortunate that Peters, a media reporter for the paper who has a frequently used Twitter account, has declined to respond publicly to at least our queries on this matter. We will update, of course, when there is more.
UPDATE 7/4/11: The NYT correction for the Sherrod part of the story is even worse than we had realized, as the paper appears to be trying to protect Breitbart by re-writing history, even though their own correction undermines them. Full details now here...