Woman who posed as prostitute confirms repeated misreporting by NYTimes, many others
Why does 'paper of record' still refuse to retract, apologize?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2010, 1:14pm PT  

Speaking to Washington Independent reporter David Weigel today at CPAC, Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute in James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart's infamous, highly-doctored, heavily-overdubbed, secretly-taped, ACORN hit videos, confirms what we've been reporting for several weeks here: O'Keefe never dressed as a pimp in the offices of ACORN.

Reports Weigel today [emphasis added]:

I asked Giles about a criticism that’s often been leveled against them — that they hyped up the video by wearing outrageous clothes in promotional materials and the videos’ introductions that they didn’t wear in the actual stings.

“We never claimed that he went in with a pimp costume,” said Giles. “That was b-roll. It was purely b-roll. He was a pimp, I was a prostitute, and we were walking in front of government buildings to show how the government was whoring out the American people.”

"B-roll" refers to footage shot separately and later inserted during editing, as frequently seen in movies and television. E.g., an overhead helicopter shot of Las Vegas, used to establish where the scene takes place, before cutting to the interior of a casino where the main character is seen playing cards at a table.

Giles' admission is in stark contrast to:

Greg Brock, the New York Times Senior Editor for Standards, as we documented exclusively some weeks ago, is even on email record as citing that Fox "News" appearance by O'Keefe (embedded again at right) as his only evidence to "stand by our reporting" in which the "paper of record" has, time and again, misreprested O'Keefe as having "visited Acorn offices ... dressed so outlandishly that he might have been playing in a risque high school play."

Just two days after the Times described the "outlandish" dress of O'Keefe, the Congress of the United States passed legislation to remove federal funding for ACORN. (A federal judge later found the legislation to be "unconstitutional".)...

The Times has so far refused to retract, apologize, and investigate how and why it got the story so incredibly wrong, time and again, even though many have written to the paper's Public Editor, Clark Hoyt (Public@NYTimes.com) to request that he recommend exactly that. Hoyt had previously chided the paper in his column, for being "slow off the mark" in having waited "nearly a week after the first video was posted" before covering the videos. A special editor was then assigned to devote attention to "issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio."

Yet more than six months after the Times' first inaccurate report and dozens which followed, and even Congressional action following their coverage, the "paper of record" still refuses to issue retractions or explanations.

We have now heard from Hoyt, concerning his remarkable justifications for not recommending such actions, and will report on those reasons in full in the coming days after he has had another chance to respond to the additional evidence we've supplied him showing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the New York Times was flat out wrong.

Given that:

  • O'Keefe and Breitbart blatantly lied about their eye-popping, marquee promotional point for their story;
  • that, in truth, O'Keefe represented himself to low-level ACORN workers as the college law school boyfriend of Giles, desperately trying to save her from the house of an abusive pimp who she believed would kill her (a point only made clear when examining the posted text transcripts, as opposed to the misleadingly edited videos --- as O'Keefe and Breitbart still refuse to release the unedited videos);
  • that O'Keefe was recently arrested and charged with falsely identifying himself in order to commit a federal felony in the offices of a Democratic U.S. Senator;
  • that he's since offered a preposterous explanation for those alleged federal felonies;
  • that two separate independent reports (Congressional Research Service and former MA Attorney General [PDF]) have each found no criminal wrong-doing by ACORN workers (though it appears that O'Keefe and Giles actually broke the law in at least two states by secretly taping);
  • and that the Times noted only the CRS report in a small item buried on Page 15, and never told readers about the former AG's report which found, among other things, that "Although Mr. O'Keefe appeared in all videos dressed as a pimp, in fact, when he appeared at each and every office, he was dressed like a college student - in slacks and a button down shirt"

...it remains all the more remarkable that the Times is still standing by the entirely phony story.

And if Breitbart and O'Keefe were that willing to lie about last year's "successful" scam, and the media were so gullible as to report it without fact checking any of it, what will they be willing to say and do now that Breitbart's employee O'Keefe is facing the possibility of ten years in jail? Without examining how they screwed up in giving uncritical coverage to the "successful" scam, safe money is on the same media outlets screwing up yet again in reporting O'Keefe's latest legal troubles and the rightwing political agenda media scams he has set for the future.

As promised, more to come in the days ahead, including Hoyt's responses to date...

UPDATE: For the record, as detailed on Wednesday here, these are just some of the many other mainstream media outlets, in addition to the NYTimes (and Fox "News"), which are quoted on the record as similarly misreporting the fake O'Keefe/Breitbart ACORN 'pimp' story: Baltimore Sun, CNN, New York Post, Washington City Paper, Philadelphia Daily News, NPR, Dallas Morning News.

Like the Times, those outlets also still owe their readers retractions and apologies. Please feel free to let them know!

UPDATE 2/21/10: "In CPAC Meltdown, Breitbart Forced to 'Apologize' for 'Apparently' Lying About ACORN 'Pimp' Story". Full details...

UPDATE 2/23/10: "Exclusive: NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN 'Pimp' Story" Full story, Hoyt's emails...

UPDATE 2/24/10: Hoyt responds to our on his emails and accuses The BRAD BLOG of having a "political agenda" on par with O'Keefe and Breitbart. Also, blogosphere issues blistering response, petition, call for Hoyt to step down. Full details, Hoyt's email response, right here...

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