Yet more evidence that O'Keefe did not 'represent himself' as the NYTimes and its Public Editor continue to claim...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2010, 8:41pm PT  

Last night, the New York Times issued a pathetic "correction" in which the paper finally admitted it had gotten one very important element of the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax story wrong by reporting on at least four occasions that Rightwing activist James O'Keefe had dressed in his ridiculous 70s-era blaxploitation "pimp" get-up while secretly video-taping low-level ACORN and ACORN Housing workers last Summer. He didn't. That was a lie by O'Keefe and his publisher Andrew Breitbart, and it was forwarded uncritically by the New York Times over and over again.

After two months of my badgering the paper's Senior Editor for Standards Greg Brock and its Public Editor (ombudsman) Clark Hoyt about it --- and after each offered all sorts of extraordinary excuses (see here and here for just a start) as to why they stood by the paper's demonstrably inaccurate reporting --- the "paper of record" was finally, and begrudgingly, forced to admit it was wrong on that one element, and has issued a correction to it.

The "correction" came six months after the Times first damagingly misreported the story, and was followed by repeated similar misreports. It also came on the same day that the four-decade-old community organization announced it had been forced to close shop in the wake of the phony scandal, which was helped along by the gross misreporting by the Times and many others that followed suit.

But the Times' correction still made it a point to include the false notion that, while O'Keefe didn't dress as a pimp in ACORN offices, he still "represented himself" as one, by "posing" as a pimp.

Well, no, as we've shown time and again, he didn't do that either. He posed as the law school student (or sometimes a banker or politician) boyfriend to Hannah Giles who was dressed similarly to a prostitute. During the secretly-taped interviews, they both told the low-level ACORN and ACORN Housing workers they were trying to save her from an abusive pimp who had attempted to stalk and kill her.

Yet, the Times is still standing by its inaccurate reporting.

So, to help them out, here are just a few more examples of O'Keefe "posing as a pimp," as the New York Times, the "paper of record," would have you believe, as taken from O'Keefe's own unauthenticated text transcripts...

New York transcript...

Volda (loan counselor): how can I help you today
O'Keefe: have a seat
O'Keefe: well we have a unique situation and my uh this is my girlfriend, Eden, and I apologize about her attire but uhm uhm but Eden is in a unique line of work and umm… (page 3)

O'Keefe: and we have been…I work for Wells Fargo actually and we've been basically denied the right to appeal for housing. I have tried to talk to some of my co-workers and they do not want to help me apply for housing. (page 3)

O'Keefe: Yeah, yep, I work at a bank. (page 8)

O'Keefe: Well, the reason why we are rushing is because she was working for this pimp and he was very abusive. (page 17)

Giles: "He has been really aggressive toward me ever since I met him because I wanted to leave because it is scary being subjected to a huge man who has control over your life. And he [O'Keefe] is kind so… " (page 17)

Baltimore transcript...

O'Keefe: Well I am doing pretty well for myself but I am coming to talk to you about my girlfriend, my girl Kenya here, we have kind of a unique life situation. (page 2)

Kenya/Giles: Okay, uh, he is moving into town. I am not from here. An um…he wants me… He is going to be going to Johns Hopkins for graduate school. Graduate school, right?
Shira/ACORN worker: Congratulations.
O'Keefe: Yep, law. (page 3)

O'Keefe: The other thing we have to deal with is this guy she was working for, he is very abusive. And this guy has been giving us a lot of problems.
Kenya/Giles: ever since I left. (page 14)

Washington, D.C. transcript...

O'Keefe: So I, I'm running for, I go to Georgetown law school.
ACORN worker: Uh huh.
O'Keefe: And I'm running for a local election and we've gone to a lot of mortgage brokers… (page 4)

O'Keefe: Well, my ah, my partner is a ah, she's in a unique line of business and I don't know if you allow
Acorn 1: Unique line of business? What are you saying?
O'Keefe: Housing
Acorn 1: If you don't tell us we can't help you.
O'Keefe: My girlfriend is a prostitute. (pages 4,5)

Giles: I'm kind of afraid to make any 'cause ever since I met him [O'Keefe] I left a bunch of people and one guy in particular who was abusive and very controlling and, um, ever since I left he's followed me and there's problems and I feel if there's more paper he'll somehow get hold of that and I might end up dead and then I won't be around. (page 11)

O'Keefe: See this is the problem because I've had my political meetings and she's my girlfriend and I'm trying to set her up with a place so she doesn't have to beholden to some pimp. You know what I-trying, trying to give her a new life. (page 12)

Those three unauthenticated text transcripts were made available by O'Keefe and Breitbart before the Times filed the first inaccurate story on September 15th last year, reporting on O'Keefe and Giles as "amateur actors, posing as a prostitute and a pimp," and asserting, completely incorrectly, that O'Keefe "was dressed so outlandishly that he might have been playing in a risqué high school play."

Three days later, in an approving puff profile of O'Keefe, they inaccurately described his "travels in the gaudy guise of pimp…through various offices of Acorn," and quoted him as telling the paper: "I’m a skinny nerd, the least convincing pimp in the world."

But in mid-February of this year, after we'd called out O'Keefe as a liar for misrepresenting himself, Giles admitted to Washington Independent reporter Dave Weigel that the "pimp" concept was added-on with footage that was shot later and edited in. The "gaudy" costume seen in the videos was meant to convey "the whoring out of the American people," she told Weigel.

"We never claimed that he went in with a pimp costume," Giles admitted, "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.”

In other words, as Giles admitted, and as O'Keefe's own unauthenticated text-transcripts show, the entire "pimp" concept was added on as an afterthought, and edited in later.

On Sunday, after months of our badgering, NYTimes Public Editor Clark Hoyt finally admitted some error, by explaining that though "The Times was wrong" and he has "been wrong in defending the paper's phrasing" of the repeated inaccurate assertions that O'Keefe was dressed as a pimp in those ACORN offices the paper's reporting that O'Keefe posed as a pimp, was nonetheless justified because he "presented himself as one" to the ACORN workers.

Here's how Hoyt explained it:

If O’Keefe did not dress as a pimp, he clearly presented himself as one: a fellow trying to set up a woman — sometimes along with under-age girls — in a house where they would work as prostitutes. In Washington, he said the prostitution was to finance his future in politics. A worker for Acorn Housing, an allied group, warned him to stay away from the brothel lest someone “get wind that you got a house and that your girlfriend is over there running a house of women of the night. You will not have a career.”

Contrast that line, with the way O'Keefe is seen presenting himself in the excerpts posted above. You may also add to them the following excerpts, which we've posted before, from O'Keefe's unauthenticated Brooklyn ACORN transcripts [PDF]:

James: well the reason why we are rushing is because she was working for this pimp and he was very abusive
James: and that is why we were in a rush you know why I am excited and I know nothing about her business I am just trying to be here to be professional because ya know she walks in and but now we have this pimp discriminating against us
James: I know I have to worry about the pimp but he is illegal anyway he is not going to do anything to me who what do I have to be careful of?
James: Sonny is the pimp

So did O'Keefe "clearly present himself" as a pimp, as Hoyt asserted in his Sunday column this week and as the Times re-asserts in both its correction and the reporting by Ian Urbina in today's paper on the news that ACORN is now being forced to shut down for lack of funds? Urbina reports, uncritically, that "The transcript of several stings, however, indicate that Mr. O’Keefe clearly presented himself as a pimp." He does not bother to note that the "transcript" is O'Keefe's own, and has not been authenticated by the Times, or anyone else.

Even so, do the transcripts show O'Keefe "clearly presenting himself" as a pimp? Or is this another case where Hoyt, as we have seen before --- for example in the extraordinary email chain between him and me as published in early February --- has gone to absurd extremes to justify the unjustifiable, and has the led the Times down yet another path towards yet another long-overdue correction.

There is, of course, more evidence, as I included in my article last night, demonstrating that O'Keefe did not pose as, or "present himself as" a "pimp", and certainly not "clearly", as the Times is still standing by and misreporting.

At best, if one relies on even the unauthenticated text transcripts posted by the accused felon O'Keefe and his employer/publisher Breitbart (who has already been shown to have lied about this entire matter as well) --- that and testimonials from employees who were there (like the one at right) are all we have to go on, because neither O'Keefe nor Breitbart will release the unedited videos publicly for some reason --- then at a minimum a responsible media outlet would have to note, at least for balance, that compelling evidence shows that O'Keefe almost certainly did not "pose as a pimp." And I'm being very generous here.

Instead, the NYTimes continues, as it has again and again and again --- and even in its supposed "correction" --- to report this point as a fact, when it is anything but.

The Times wasn't the only one to did so, of course. Most of the other corporate media outlets followed suit. They all owe their readers and viewer and listeners corrections, retractions, apologies, and an explanation as to what they will do to keep such shoddy reporting from ever happening again.

And there also needs to be some accountability here. Hoyt is supposed to serve as the "reader's representative," according to the Times. But it seems clear that he's more interested in representing the paper, along with O'Keefe and Breitbart, instead of the readers. The Senior Editor for Standards, Greg Brock, a veteran at the paper since 1995, identifies himself as the "senior editor who oversees corrections." But in this case, he was the senior editor who went to extraordinary lengths to cover-up the paper's errors, as seen in these extraordinary emails that we published in early February.

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller needs to take a serious look at the outrageous behavior and dreadful failures of both Hoyt and Clark in this matter, and appropriate action needs to be taken. The readers, the truth, and the now-destroyed, four-decade old community organization ACORN --- tried and executed only in the media, with the help of the New York Times --- deserve to see some accountability.

* * *

Here are the appropriate email addresses at the New York Times. PLEASE USE THEM or you are guaranteed to see these sort of outrages happen again and again and again...

Executive Editor Bill Keller,
Managing Editor John Geddes,
Sr. Editor for Standards Greg Brock,
Public Editor Clark Hoyt,
Reporter Ian Urbina,

* * *

The BRAD BLOG covers your electoral system fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

Share article...