I keep meaning to read this post fully.
In today’s New York Times, Public Editor Clark Hoyt reveals the result of his investigation into the charge that the paper killed a story during the 2008 Presidential campaign in order to help Barack Obama. Hoyt concludes that the claim is “nonsense.”
ON March 17, a Republican lawyer, quoting a confidential source for a Times reporter, testified to Congress that the newspaper killed a story last fall because it would have been “a game-changer” in the presidential election.
The charge, amplified by Bill O’Reilly on Fox News in April and reverberating around the conservative blogosphere, is about the most damning allegation that can be made against a news organization. If true, it would mean that Times editors, whose job is to report the facts without fear or favor, were so lacking in integrity that they withheld an important story in order to influence the election.
But the facts as related by Hoyt don’t rebut the charge; they support it.
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. The only question is why. Hoyt uncritically accepts Daley’s explanation:
So Obama was breaking the law, and the NYT wasn’t interested.
The NYT had an incredibly damaging story about Obama. They’d already published a story about McCain which was almost completely made up from a few items of inuendo, but a solid lead on wrongdoing by “The One”…