NYTimes on Breitbart: STILL getting the ACORN story wrong!

June 28, 2011

Wow.   Little did I know as I followed Ryan Clayton with a camera as he confronted Andrew Breitbart at the recent NetRoots Nation conference in Minneapolis that New York Times Reporter Jeremy W. Peters was also there, doing an "expose" on the conservative provocateur.  

(That's me, behind Ryan Clayton, in this Ben Garvin NYTimes photo, camera in hand.)

The Times writes, 

"Some of his reader-generated scoops have reverberated all the way to the halls of the United States Capitol, like the Weiner photos and undercover video he released of Acorn workers offering advice on how to evade taxes and conceal child prostitution. After the videos went viral Congress ended grants to Acorn, and federal agencies severed ties with the group. "
This would be a great story if this were a fairy tale, but this is the New York Times, which until recent years actually checked facts and reported news.  

Peters did get part of the story correct:  after the sham videos hit the halls of Congress, Acorn was regarded as a pariah, and the group which strove to register more voters later disbanded.  (I can still hear GOP cheers echoing all the way to California.)

But here's the important part of the story, the part the New York Times left out, the part my colleague, investigative reporter Brad Friedman, has been hammering for more than a year, as he does again today on  BradBlog.com:

"... after telling the ACORN worker that her pimp (not O'Keefe!) had beaten her and stolen her money, the sympathetic worker tries to offer advise on how to hide the money from the pimp, not from the government!

The other frequently cited piece of misinformation concerns the ACORN worker who advised that Hannah use the IRS code for "performance artist" when filing her taxes, since there is no code for "prostitute" on those forms. As in all of the offices, the workers were explaining how Giles had to report her income and pay her taxes --- rather than evade them --- even if her income was from prostitution."
You want all the facts on this?  Read Brad Friedman's reporting on this, he owns this story.

But here's my point:  there is a reason that I am so passionate about calling out the tactics of Andrew Breitbart and his minions.  The man is perpetuating a fraud - not just on the American people , but on our very democracy.   I am talking about someone who calls himself a journalist who worked to set up the ACORN organization with a hidden camera (like a Candid Camera/ Borat comedy,)  asked honest employees bogus questions, then edited the video to mislead viewers and lawmakers, all for political gain.   It doesn't matter if it being done on the "Right" or the "Left," it is wrong.

Despite the comment in Peters' article that people today tend to "select facts" they agree with, at the end of the day, nobody wants to be lied to.  If people fully understood the lies they are being spoon fed by the Right Wing Media, I think  they would be quick to seek out honest, trustworthy reporting.

But, as I reported more than a year ago, the New York Times fails that test.  They failed it with Judith Miller, they failed it with ACORN, they failed it with Breitbart.  The "Paper of Record" just doesn't seem big enough to correct the record.

Thank God for bloggers, but not all of them are as accurate as Friedman, either.  

So let me say this to all who have a microphone on Radio or TV, and to all those who are paid to write for print publications:  We the People need you to do the hard job of real reporting.  We need real facts to make real decisions.  

Just because some may enjoy it, please don't make our democracy into a sideshow.    We are counting on you.

Continued Interest in Breitbart: (Not sure why...)

June 25, 2011

More than a week after 100ProofPolitics' Ryan Clayton went after Andrew Breitbart at Netroots Nation in Minneapolis, I am still getting requests for information and clarification about the exchange.  The latest came from Radioactive Gavin, who had me on his radio show =Making Waves= on KDVS out of Davis, California.

From Gavin's description:  
"Common Frequency's newest Board member, journalist Sue Wilson, was the guest for today's =Making Waves= on KDVS. We talked about an aggressive progressive named Ryan Clayton confronting Andrew Breitbart, the conservative provocateur, at the Netroots Nation conference last Friday. Sue was there.

Sue says Breitbart "is trying to run away from the monsters he's created." He is being sued by one of his victims, but his attacks on NPR, ACORN and Rep. Weiner are all considered successes. And she also debunks the myth of the focus group-tested meme that "the liberal media" controls American thinking.
Plus, we discussed the questionable judgment of CNN devoting so much airtime to Erick Erickson, another incendiary partisan allowed to, as David Brock of Media Matters says "disable journalism".

Normally I devote my attention to local, independent public media but I think what's really important here is the outrage Sue speaks to, about what Breitbart represents in terms of the crumbling standards for information dissemination in our democracy.

And stay tuned because we wrapped the show with a clip from Wilson's documentary Broadcast Blues, a dramatic story of two journalists who were fired by a Fox affiliate for refusing to lie about a story on Monsanto the station preferred to silence. Sue took the film on an 11-city tour through Florida, encouraging more citizens to demand public interest obligations from broadcasters.

Listen HERE.


In case you missed it, Radio or Not's own Nicole Sandler scored an interview with none other than Breitbart protege James O'Keefe .  He told Nicole he just seeks the truth.   This is the guy who pretends to be a journalist but uses Borat tactics of asking crazy questions using hidden cameras, then maliciously edits the answers so they don't resemble the actual interview, but instead furthers his own skewed agenda.  The guy I wrote about here who pretended he dressed as a pimp to walk into an ACORN office (that lie was debunked by Brad Friedman over at BradBlog.com.)

 (That's O'Keefe, in his pimp get-up, on the left.  A journalist he is NOT.)

"If the shoe fits, wear it.  If the truth hurts, bear it!"  ~Sue

Breitbart Ambush: Fair or Foul?

June 18, 2011

The internet has lit up with stories about the exchange between "Conservative" blogger Andrew Breitbart and Progressive Blogger Ryan Clayton.   Public opinion is critical of Clayton's questioning of Breitbart, saying that it is less than objectiive journalism.

But consider that Clayton asked straightforward questions, and clearly has a camera visible when so doing. Consider also that Clayton released the entire uncut video so that viewers may clearly see the entire exchange.  Contrast that with the work of Breitbart protege James O'Keefe, who sets up interviews under false pretenses, uses hidden cameras,  and edits video to substantially change the meaning of his interviewees answers.
This may not be great investigative journalism, but at least it is transparent.  Perhaps Breitbart and his minions could learn from this?  (Doubtful.)

Breitbart Ambushed at Netroots Nation

June 17, 2011

Would be journalist and provocateur Andrew Breitbart met his match today when he tried to crash the liberal NetRoots Nation convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  100 Proof Politics editor Ryan Clayton was ready - and his camera and hard questions forced right wing Breitbart into a hasty retreat.
The story started the night before when two women ventured into the streets of Minneapolis wearing the traditional Hijab (headscarf.)  They were approached by John Hugh Gilmore, a 52 year attorney and self described Conservative who blogs for "Minnesota Conservatives."   According to police, he asked the women what they thought of Ayaan Hersi Ali, a Somali who is a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who decries Muslims.  The women told him they weren't exactly fans.   The inebriated Gilmore then became upset and started harassing the pair, asking what right they had to be in this country, until 60 onlookers intervened.  Police were called and arrested Gilmore, but not until Gilmore tried to reach Andrew Breitbart on his phone.

Fast forward to today.  Breitbart entered the Minneapolis Convention Center just minutes after Clayton had interviewed Sana Saleem, a blogger of Pakistani heritage and co-founder of Gawaahi.com, who had witnessed the confrontation.  Breitbart claimed he knew nothing about the event, and a Breitbart colleague accused Clayton of lying about the whole affair, (but Minneapolis Police Department has confirmed Gilmore's arrest.) 

Clayton moved beyond the Minneapolis incident into questions to confirm or deny rumors of Breitbart's alleged drug use and sexual habits.   While Breitbart denied having a cocaine habit, he would not answer whether he had personally ever used cocaine.   Given Hugh Hewitt's recent interview with Breitbart  where Breitbart references the gay magazine "Blue Boy," Clayton also asked about Breitbart's penchant for gay magazines.  At that point, without answering directly, the flustered Breitbart left the Netroots Nation convention, hounded by dozens of attendees shouting, "Coward! Coward!"