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The immortal words of NYTimes chief Bill Keller

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 18, 2009 10:58 AM

NYTimes editor Bill Keller said this in December 2007. Mark these words:

…we are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers. We do not work in the service of a party, or an industry, or even a country. When there are competing views of a situation, we aim to reflect them as clearly and fairly as we can.”

Now, compare Keller’s rhetoric to reality. Over the weekend, NYTimes public editor Clark Hoyt admitted that the Times killed a story on supposedly non-partisan ACORN’s coordination with Barack Obama’s old friends at Project Vote. Hoyt calls it “The Tip That Didn’t Pan Out.” John Hinderaker at Power Line calls bull:

Times reporter Stephanie Strom was looking into ACORN, and she had a source, a former ACORN employee named Anita Moncrief. Moncrief told Strom that she had evidence of “constant contact” between ACORN’s Project Vote and both the Obama and Clinton campaigns:

On Sept. 7, Moncrief wrote to Strom that she had donor lists from the campaigns of Obama and Hillary Clinton and that there had been “constant contact” between the campaigns and Project Vote, an Acorn affiliate whose tax-exempt status forbids it to engage in partisan politics. Moncrief said she had withheld that information earlier but was disclosing it now that the conservative columnist Michelle Malkin was “all over it.”

“I am sorry,” she wrote, “but I believe in Obama and did not want to help the Republicans.”

A key part of Moncrief’s story was that the Obama campaign had furnished ACORN with lists of maxed-out donors so that ACORN could mine them for contributions. In fact, Moncrief provided the Times reporter, Strom, with such a list that ACORN allegedly obtained from the Obama campaign. Hoyt does not dispute that this story, if true, was evidence of violation of the campaign finance laws.

So why did the Times pull the plug on Strom’s ongoing investigation? The story became public because a Republican lawyer named Heather Heidelbaugh testified, apparently based on information she got from Anita Moncrief, that the Times had been working on an Obama-ACORN story but that “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.'” Hoyt undertakes to show that this charge was false.

He admits, though, that Strom’s editor, Suzanne Daley, “called a halt to Strom’s pursuit of the Obama angle.” So the Times did kill the investigation and any further reporting.

Investigative reporter Matthew Vadum, who has done invaluable work on ACORN for years, weighs in at the American Spectator:

Acknowledging what the blogosphere has known for weeks, the New York Times finally went on record to admit that just before last Election Day it killed a politically sensitive news story involving corruption allegations that might have made the Obama campaign look bad.

But the admission on Sunday, which came seven months after NYT staff reporter Stephanie Strom’s reporting about possibly illegal coordination between the Obama campaign and ACORN last year, took the form of a snarky column from Clark Hoyt, the Old Gray Lady’s “public editor.” Hoyt used the word “nonsense” to describe the allegations of impropriety leveled against ACORN and the Obama campaign…

…he aborted story that gave rise to the Obama/ACORN controversy centers around information provided by Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN employee whom Hoyt acknowledges “fed information to Stephanie Strom of The Times for several articles on troubles within the group.” Apparently the information MonCrief provided was good.

We know this because Strom broke a number of important stories about ACORN and surely much of the information she used came from her trusted source Anita MonCrief. In July she reported that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from the group. She also reported that ACORN management covered up the embezzlement for eight years, withholding information even from ACORN’s national board.

The next month Strom reported that Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike, a comrade-in-arms of liberal philanthropist George Soros, had personally covered what remained of Wade Rathke’s debt (the embezzler had agreed to a slow-as-molasses repayment plan that would have kept him in debt well into old age).

In September Strom reported on two ACORN national board members’ lawsuit aimed at forcing ACORN to provide financial documents regarding the embezzlement.

She followed up the next month with a story on ACORN’s efforts to sever its remaining ties with its founder. (Strom reported that Wade Rathke resigned as chief organizer of ACORN. In fact, Rathke was fired, as shown in the ACORN national board’s minutes of June 20, 2008, available at page 11 of the linked PDF file.)

The same month Strom wrote about an internal memo written by ACORN’s lawyer that alerted the group to potential legal problems related to its organizational structure.

But apparently MonCrief’s information was suddenly no good when it might have embarrassed the Obama campaign.

Let me repeat Bill Keller’s words:

…we are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers. We do not work in the service of a party, or an industry, or even a country. When there are competing views of a situation, we aim to reflect them as clearly and fairly as we can.”

“We do not manipulate or die facts to advance an agenda?” The Times suppressed the truth about ObamACORN by its own weasel-worded admission.

“Agnostic as to where a story may lead?” The cult worshipers at the Times are “enchanted” with the man in the White House.

“Independence from political and economic interests?” The Times has sold $2 million worth of Obama-themed merchandise, according to NYTimes reporter Jennifer 8 Lee, who boasted that “Obama is good for the bottom line.”

Stick a pin in Bill Keller’s self-delusional thought and pop it. Boop.


Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti

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In related fishwrap follies, MoDo makes excuses for journalistic shoplifting that she would be first to mock mercilessly if, say, Bill Kristol tried to get away with them.

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