Though year-old misreport still stands
ALSO: 'Yahoo! News' issues correction as well...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2010, 2:18pm PT  

It took nearly a week of The BRAD BLOG bitching, moaning, emailing, complaining, and tweeting to the Washington Post, its ombudsman, and, of course, the author of the story, Alexandra Petri, who had blatantly misreported, twice in the same article at Dana Milbank's "Rough Sketch" blog, the long-ago debunked myth that Rightwing con-man and dirty trickster James O'Keefe had "dressed up as a pimp to interview members of ACORN" in his scam video tapes that shamefully took down the four-decade old anti-poverty, pro-democracy organization based on his hateful hoax.

As we detailed in our original report on Petri's inaccuracy last week, O'Keefe never dressed as a pimp and never even represented himself as a pimp in the offices of ACORN. The truth about all of that had been publicly available to know for almost a year before Petri misreported on it in the pages of the Washington Post last week.

Given that the Washington Post published another related story over a year ago with a number of similarly misleading inaccuracies in it, which they have yet to correct even after all this time, perhaps we should be happy it took less than a week this time around for the right thing to be done at the paper.

Petri has finally, nearly a week later, corrected her article, as she notes in the following email sent to us this morning...

From: Alexandra Petri
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:17 AM
To: Brad.Friedman@cville.com
Subject: Re: Why no correction to inaccurate O'Keefe/ACORN story?

Mr. Friedman,

I've just put in the correction you suggested. I apologize for the delay in response and appreciate your fidelity to the facts! Thanks for following me on Twitter!

I hope your focus on the inaccurate phrasing of those two sentences didn't come at the expense of noting the larger point of the piece, which does pointedly refer to Mr. O'Keefe's editing tendencies! Regardless, thank you for drawing my attention to this!

Have a great week!

Alexandra Petri
The Washington Post

The change she has now made to her article was from this...

It was a "punk" set-up by James O'Keefe, the same guy who famously dressed up as a pimp to interview members of ACORN...
...
Remember, he dressed up as a pimp to interview members of ACORN.

...to this...

It was a "punk" set-up by James O'Keefe, the same guy who famously dressed up as a pimp to interview members of ACORN. dressed up as a pimp in a video where he also interviewed members of ACORN, then edited the footage to make it seem as though he had been in his pimp guise the whole time.

The repetition of the same inaccuracy later in the piece was removed all together, and a transparent, time-stamped correction was added to the bottom of the article.

We thank Ms. Petri for having done the right thing, even as it took far too long to have done so.

And speaking of the Washington Post taking far too long to correct the record, here's what they published on September 18, 2009, well over a year ago, which is still uncorrected in their pages!...

The proposition was outrageous, outlandish, and right up James E. O'Keefe III's alley. Hannah Giles was on the phone from the District, and she was asking him to dress like her pimp, walk into the offices of the ACORN community activist group, openly admit to wanting to buy a house to run as a brothel, and see what happened.

It was serendipity, O'Keefe said Thursday. On that day in May, he was still burning mad after watching a YouTube video of Acorn workers breaking padlocks off foreclosed homes and barging in. "I was upset," he said.

O'Keefe, 25, packed his grandfather's old wide-brimmed derby hat from his swing-dancing days, his grandmother's ratty chinchilla shoulder throw, and a cane he bought at a dollar store, then drove from his parents' home in northern New Jersey to the District to execute the idea with Giles, 20.

Except that he didn't. As we have since learned, all of that pimp stuff you saw in the videos was recorded later, and deceptively edited into the final project to deceive the nation and the media into believing those ACORN workers were just so stupid that they thought this skinny, 20-something white punk was actually a 70s-era Blaxploitation movie pimp.

The scam worked. Though you'd think the media, at least the legitimate non-wingnut media, as Washington Post is supposed to be, would have taken the time to correct the historical record by now once the truth of the scam had become known. They haven't.

The paper did see fit, however, to appease James O'Keefe --- who is decidedly not a "journalist", by the way --- by issuing the following "correction" at the top of that story...

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE
This article about the community organizing group ACORN incorrectly said that a conservative journalist targeted the organization for hidden-camera videos partly because its voter-registration drives bring Latinos and African Americans to the polls. Although ACORN registers people mostly from those groups, the maker of the videos, James E. O'Keefe, did not specifically mention them.

As to posting a correction to the story to reveal that O'Keefe actually out-and-out lied to them, as seen in the inaccurate portions of the story quoted above, and as known since at least December of last year, no such correction has been forthcoming from the paper.

At least the New York Times proved capable of correcting their record on this, at least partially, even in old stories, after The BRAD BLOG's six-month campaign to force them to do so earlier this year.

Moreover, yesterday, after Yahoo! News' Michael Calderone had misreported on the same matter while reporting on O'Keefe's latest lies in regard to his latest botched "CNN Sex Boat" scheme, Calderone corrected the record within minutes of our very first tweet to him alerting him of the inaccuracy. See? It's really not that hard to do the right thing.

So we've successfully gotten corrections from the NYTimes, WaPo, Yahoo! News and a few others on all of this, though they wouldn't have made them in the first place with some responsible due-diligence. It really shouldn't be this hard to get these guys to do the right thing by publishing accurate journalism and then correcting the record when they are shown to have been wrong.

If WaPo ever corrects their blatantly inaccurate and misleading September 2009 story, we'll try to let you know.

The Washington Post "Corrections" address is: Corrections@WashPost.com.