Public Editor Facts

ACORN Ideas and Issues Personal Writings Voting Rights
Stephanie Strom

New Orleans Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor of the august New York Times weighed in on the conservative blogosphere obsession with ACORN in Sunday’s paper after what he called several weeks of investigation.  He was trying to figure out whether or not the editors of the Times killed a Stephanie Strom attack piece as the wackos have alleged because it would be a “game changer” in last November’s election.  He concluded that the charge was “nonsense.”

Will that change anything out there among the wing nuts?  No way!  Conspiracy theories are mother’s milk to these endless tirades, so doubtlessly the beat will hammer endlessly on until some new mystical magic tour leads them along another direction.

Hoyt tries, as is the style on the public editor beat, tried to dismantle all of this house of cards, joker by joker.  I’m sure he didn’t like some of the pieces he was working with here since Stephanie Strom was the Times reporter at the heart of this tale, and she’s a slippery piece of work in what I would have thought was one of the most boring beats at the paper:  non-profits.  In any cutback this has be one of the first jobs to disappear, I would think.

Having talked to Stephanie Strom of the New York Times a couple of times last year, I cannot say that I am a fan of hers, but that’s life in the media “flesh eating machine,” as Herbert Marcuse remarked in an appropriate comment made in fact in the New York Times many decades ago. I also find it incredible how a new McCarthyism has grown among nonprofits who attempt to suppress people and repress work because they are afraid that Strom will write something in the Times and then have her suppositions also take another life into the even rawer world of the blogosphere.  The stories, I could tell!

But, Hoyt went to the heart of all of this.  First, that the alleged big deal…something about funder lists from the Obama campaign being given to fundraisers for ACORN and Project Vote…being public information, so who cares if, when, or whether they had it, as well as the fact that they couldn’t substantiate the transfer from the campaign to ACORN anyway.  Second, he goes to the incredibility of Strom and the right’s source, Anita Moncrief, anyway as a disgruntled former employee who was fired for misusing an organizational credit card for personal expenses.  He dances a little over Strom’s tactics in playing Moncrief as simply grist for the reportorial mill, but whatever.

The facts are still the facts, and at least it is refreshing to see the Times at least put a little elbow grease into cleaning up its own oil spill out there, rather than leaving it continually to Media Matters to try and straighten it up to its vastly smaller audience.  Maybe someday all of this will make a difference if not this decade, then perhaps in the next.