'Good Morning America' host repeats, nearly verbatim, NYTimes' inaccurate, discredited report in 'exclusive' interview today...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2010, 6:20pm PT  

As convicted federal criminal and rightwing dirty-trickster James O'Keefe repeated over and again this morning on ABC's Good Morning America, "this isn't about me." (Full video at end of article.)

To that end, neither is The BRAD BLOG's coverage of the scam artists' phony ACORN videos, or his attempted wiretap plot in a U.S. Senator's office, or his latest startling exposé for which he's released video today (also posted at end of article) purporting to show that he was allowed a full hour for his lunch break during one of two training days as a U.S. Census worker in April, and even allowed to leave an hour or two early when that day's training completed ahead of schedule. (Shocking, I know!)

Our coverage isn't about him. Never has been. We expect partisan scam artists like him, and his employer, rightwing con-man Andrew Breitbart, to get away with whatever deceptive, partisan nonsense they can. This has always been about the utter failure of the corporate mainstream media in irresponsibly giving them a platform to publicize their propaganda, without even bothering to check any of the facts for accuracy first.

This morning, George Stephanopoulos did exactly that in the introduction to his "exclusive" interview with O'Keefe and Breitbart (who was on hand to enjoy some of O'Keefe's spotlight as well, for some reason) by repeating an inaccurate report from the New York Times nearly verbatim, despite the "paper of record" having corrected at least part of it over two months ago, and despite their Public Editor (ombudsman) having been broadly ridiculed for an embarrassing attempt to defend it...

During the intro to his interview, Stephanopoulos reported:

James O'Keefe became a media sensation after he and a friend posed as a pimp and a prostitute and secretly recorded ACORN workers giving them advice on how to cheat on their taxes.

That phrase mirrors, almost word-for-word, the January 31st NYTimes article which helped kick off The BRAD BLOG's months-long exposé of the paper's repeatedly inaccurate coverage of O'Keefe's ACORN 'Pimp' Hoax.

Wrote Jim Rutenberg and Campbell Robertson in the Times on January 31, 2010:

Mr. O'Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn - eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos...

That phrase, and many others akin to it in the NYTimes reportage, led a reader of The BRAD BLOG to request a correction from the paper. That request was met with firm resistance, and no small amount of dissembling from the paper's Senior Editor Greg Brock, as detailed in the series of disturbing emails between the reader, Brock and myself, all published here.

As the Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt was subsequently brought in to arbitrate the issue, supposedly as the paper's "readers representative", he infamously defended the NYTimes reports by asserting, to the astonishment of many, in regard to their January 31st story [emphasis his]:

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.

That remarkably lame defense brought calls for the Times to fire Hoyt along with his caricaturized depiction as a weasel in a panel of Tom Tomorrow's political satire comic strip, The Modern World:

After several months of derision from readers and the blogosphere --- and indisputable proof the paper had gotten the story terribly wrong, that, in fact, O'Keefe neither dressed as, nor "posed as" a "pimp" to secretly record ACORN workers, both Hoyt and the Times issued begrudging and partial corrections to several of their reports --- including the Jan 31st report which Stephanopoulos re-iterated this morning to millions of Americans, almost word-for-word.

So will ABC, like the Times, issue a correction to their reporting? We've contacted them via their webpage to inquire, and will update you if/when we hear back.

For the record, rather than having dressed or even posed as a "pimp", O'Keefe appeared in all of the ACORN offices as a conservatively dressed law student, telling workers he was the boyfriend of the prostitute, trying to help save her from an abusive pimp. The famous footage of O'Keefe dressed as a 70's-era blaxploitation pimp was shot later and deceptively edited into the heavily-doctored videos as released on Breitbart's site. Nonetheless, to help promote the absurdly named "ACORN Child Prostitution Investigations", O'Keefe would appear on Fox "News" and in other outlets dressed in his "pimp" get-up, purporting to have worn it while secretly taping and interviewing ACORN employees.

As to the rest of Stephanopoulos' "reporting" --- in which he claims the illicitly taped videos "recorded ACORN workers giving them advice on how to cheat on their taxes" --- that's inaccurate as well.

The workers did not give advice "on how to cheat on their taxes" --- unless by "cheating", he means being told to pay their taxes, even on money supposedly earned via via prostitution, but specifying the job of the earner as "Performance Artist" on tax forms, since the IRS codes don't offer an identification number for the job of "Prostitute".

"What I do is I stand up to power. My mission is just to expose truth," O'Keefe is seen announcing during Stephanopoulos' intro in video shot after his recent federal guilty plea. His claim "just to expose truth", of course, has been shown time and again, in official report after official report after official report after official report [PDF] to be an absolute lie. Nonetheless, despite occasionally tough-ish questions today (most of which O'Keefe simply dodged), Stephanopoulos allowed O'Keefe --- even helped him --- to further that fiction to millions of Americans on network television this morning.

Moreover, ABC offered no response to O'Keefe's latest video from the U.S. Census Bureau. More responsibly, Washington Post blogger, Ed O'Keefe (no relation to James) did so in his own coverage today. The response is worth reading, as the Bureau's spokesperson, Stephen Buckner, has clearly been paying attention, even if Stephanopoulos hasn't been:

The Census Bureau hired about 600,000 temporary workers to conduct follow up interviews and trained the workers before they began their work. In a statement, the agency said all workers are instructed to honestly submit time records.

"Workers are instructed to report hours they work, which would include their time traveling to and from training," said spokesman Stephen Buckner. "This is no different than the training session that Mr. O'Keefe attended in New Jersey, and during his previous employment with the Census Bureau last year. In his video, Mr. O'Keefe, an admitted criminal, does not disclose that he previously worked for the Census Bureau for nearly two months in 2009 without incident, allegation or complaint.

"That employment with us was well before his indictment and prior to his conviction of a federal crime last week. The Census Bureau obviously does not condone any falsifying of or tampering with time sheets by its employees. We are investigating the allegations in Mr. O'Keefe's selectively edited video and will take appropriate administrative action with staff as warranted."

A Census Bureau official also noted that O'Keefe's decision to videotape the training sessions appears to violate Commerce Department policies against recording conversations.

The chiron for ABC/Stephanopoulos' segment with hucksters O'Keefe and his employer/hanger-on Brietbart asked: "Journalist or Conservative Activist?"

The answer to the question, of course, is neither. James O'Keefe is certainly not a journalist, he's a political agendist/opportunist, and there is nothing conservative, in the political sense, about breaking federal laws and lying to the public...Unless, of course, one means "conservative", in the modern, bastardized sense, as in "George W. Bush was a 'conservative'".

P.S. When it was noted that the CA Attorney General found no illegalities by ACORN workers, as seen in O'Keefe's videos, Breitbart leaped to his employee's defense by responding deceptively to Stephanopoulos: "Is it illegal to help set up a prostitution ring in every single office?" Breitbart's disingenuous rhetorical question was, of course, an out-and-out lie as well. The employees did no such thing, despite the way that both O'Keefe and Breitbart attempted to frame the heavily-doctored video tapes.

But that's what these guys do. We've come to expect it by now. But it would be nice if the so-called legitimate media stopped offering them a platform with which to do it.

ABC's Good Morning America contact page...

UPDATE 6/3/10 As they did with our coverage of NYTimes and the ACORN 'Pimp' Hoax, media watchdog FAIR has now picked up on the above report on ABC and Stephanopoulos, echoing our coverage and offering a few more fact checks as well. Details here...

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George Stephanopoulos interviews James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart on ABC's Good Morning America today...

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James O'Keefe's latest "undercover" hit-video, as released on Andrew Breitbart's website this morning as well...