Did the NYT spike an ACORN story to benefit Obama?
posted at 11:36 am on March 31, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
ACORN says no. The Gray Lady won’t talk about it. But The Bulletin says, Res ipsa loquitur — the thing speaks for itself. They accuse the New York Times of deliberately spiking information that tied ACORN corruption to the campaign of Barack Obama, and doing so for political purposes — and point to Congressional testimony for proof:
A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.”
Heather Heidelbaugh, who represented the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee in the lawsuit against the group, recounted for the ommittee what she had been told by a former ACORN worker who had worked in the group’s Washington, D.C. office. The former worker, Anita Moncrief, told Ms. Heidelbaugh last October, during the state committee’s litigation against ACORN, she had been a “confidential informant for several months to The New York Times reporter, Stephanie Strom.”
Ms. Moncrief had been providing Ms. Strom with information about ACORN’s election activities. Ms. Strom had written several stories based on information Ms. Moncrief had given her.
During her testimony, Ms. Heidelbaugh said Ms. Moncrief had told her The New York Times articles stopped when she revealed that the Obama presidential campaign had sent its maxed-out donor list to ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office. … “Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at The New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, “it was a game changer.”’
The connections between ACORN and the Obama campaign would have violated federal election law. McCain-Feingold specifically prohibits coordination between campaigns and outside groups during an election. In Obama’s case, the coordination would have been a little strange, anyway, as Obama was raising tons of cash and organizing well on his own. ACORN certainly helped, but explicitly tying his campaign to an organization under investigation for fraud in several states could have done more damage than it was worth.
Those violations would have only cost the Obama campaign some cash, which it has still not stopped raising even more than two months after the inauguration. The real story here is the New York Times’ alleged editorial bias in support of Obama. By editorial bias, I do not mean the editorials that appear on the opinion pages, but the deliberate decision to report only news that would be favorable to Obama, and to bury news that would hurt their chosen presidential candidate. It’s the kind of bias that critics frequently accuse news organizations of having, but rarely have proof as cut-and-dried as this appears to be.
Is that what happened here? The Times may claim that they didn’t have enough corroboration to run the story. That didn’t stop them from running a despicable hit piece on John McCain alleging a sexual affair between the Senator and a lobbyist, one which they eventually had to retract after getting sued by Vicki Iseman. They sent reporters to Wasilla to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin, but somehow neglected to cover her exoneration on ethics charges, as The Bulletin notes.
Unlike with the Iseman non-story, in which the Times used two disgruntled and unnamed former aides, The Bulletin has a public witness testifying under oath about the Paper of Record’s political machinations. The Times has given a non-response response. I’d call this a clear loss for the Times, and further proof of its descent into political hackery — this time covering up corruption in high political circles for its own policy preferences.