Topic category: Government/Politics
Did The Times' Stephanie Strom Protect Obama in Her Last ACORN article?
ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief's decision to share her email exchange with New York Times national correspondent Stephanie Strom prompted AIM (Accuracy in Media) to advise me of writer Bethany Stotts' experience with Ms. Strom concerning a couple of Ms. Strom's ACORN articles published in October 2008.
Text of email to me from Sarah Schaerr Norton, Public Relations Director, Accuracy in Media: "Stephanie Strom of The New York Times asked Accuracy in Media to correct a critique of her ACORN reporting back in October. She claimed one of our staff writers had falsely characterized two of her articles on Barack Obama and his ACORN connections as 'contradictory,' but backed off the claim after one of our editors offered to print her complaint along with our writer's response. I thought you'd be interested in an update from the author of the article in question."
That correspondent is Ms. Stotts.
And I am very interested in that update.
So should anyone concerned about the whole truth about the 2008 presidential election, including the way the media covered the campaign.
On May 19, 2009, Ms. Stotts posted "Inconvenient Emails from the NY Times" at http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/articles.php?id=3054.
"Now that New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has published his official story of the events surrounding the decision to spike Stephanie Stromís investigation of ACORNís alleged fundraising connections to the Obama campaign, it becomes imperative for this correspondent to reiterate that Strom personally attempted to mislead AIM just days after she cut off contact with Anita Moncrief.
ď'The story involved allegations that Barack Obamaís campaign, in league with Acorn, a left-leaning community activist group, was guilty of technical violations of campaign finance law. Evidence supplied by the source could not be verified,' wrote Hoyt for the NY Times on May 16. 'Even if the story had panned out, it is hard to see how any editor could have regarded it as momentous enough to change an election in which the Republicans were saddled with an unpopular war and an economic meltdown.' "Hoyt maintains that if the NY Times had spiked the ACORN story because of the election, '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.'
"Full disclosure: Accuracy in Media operates Boycott the New York Times.
"According to Hoyt,
'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.''' (emphasis added).
"Then, he asserts, 'But before they were to meet, Strom said, another source gave her an internal report detailing concerns about impermissible political activity by Acorn and its tax-exempt affiliates. The resulting article was published on Oct. 22.'
"Republican Lawyer Heather S. Heidelbaugh testified before the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on March 19 that after Strom canceled her appointment with Moncrief, '[Montcrief] informed me that she had been a confidential informant for several months to the New York Times Reporter, Stephanie Strom, who had been writing articles about ACORN based on the information that she had provided.'
"Last October this correspondent criticized Strom for two of her October articles on ACORN, the second of which seemed to ignore possible connections between the group and Obamaís voter registration efforts. In fact, the October 22 article in question casts the Obama-ACORN link as a matter of opinion, and simply reiterates the campaignís assertion that they had no connection to ACORNís GOTV (get out the vote) efforts.
"Strom wrote at the time that 'Republicans have tried to make an issue of Senator Barack Obamaís ties to the group, which he represented in a lawsuit in 1995. The Obama campaign has denied any connection with Acornís voter registration drives.'
"Given that the article was about ACORN corruption, not Obama, what need was there for this comment in the first place? As it was, the attempted absolution of this candidate came before the actual charges against ACORN were discussed.
"This is especially notable in light of the recent revelation that Strom actually knew there was possible contradictory evidence at the time this was written. In my October 28 column, I called attention to her whitewashing,
'In an October 22 story, New York Times writer Stephanie Strom actually contradicts her previous article in order to minimize the association between Obama and an arguably corrupt ACORN. She now characterizes the ACORN investigation as a partisan attempt to discredit Obama.'
"This correspondent later added, 'Not only is it misleading for Strom to claim that the Obama campaign has "denied any connection with ACORNís voter registration drives" if Obama himself has said that ACORN was 'smack dab in the middle ofí such efforts, but ACORN itself has acknowledged a long-standing relationship between Obama and themselves.'
"Following the release of this story, Strom actually attempted to get AIM to change its record; she claimed that my story 'inaccurately characterizes two articles I have written.'
ď'Ms. Stott [sic] claims that those articles are "contradictory" when in fact they are not,' wrote Strom to AIMís public relations officer Sarah Schaerr Norton on October 31, using her personal email account. Strom later explained that 'The use of "But" to introduce Mr. Graham-Felsenís work clearly establishes that the Obama campaign was saying one thing about the Obama-ACORN relationship while its own blogger was reporting something very different. (By the way, the McCain campaign thought the Oct. 10 story was accurate enough to put it on its official Web site.)'
"She then emphasized that her October 22 article had merely repeated the claim that there was no connection between Obama and ACORNís voter registration efforts.
ď'Ms. Stott [sic] then claims that I contradicted that reporting in an article on Oct. 22, "Acorn Report Raises Issue of Legality." In that second article, I wrote that [sic] 'denied any connection with Acornís voter registration drives.íĒ (italics original).
"Strom repeated this assertion, emphasizing again in her email:
'Where is the contradiction Ms. Stott thinks she sees? The Oct. 22 article does not report that the Obama campaign denied ANY connection to Acorn, which would have been inaccurate because I already had written about some connections between Senator Obama and the organization 12 days earlier. The Oct. 22 report states that the campaign denied any connection TO ACORN'S VOTER REGISTRATION EFFORTS, which is a very specific denial.' (original formatting).
"If the NY Times had actually run Moncriefís story, Strom would not have been merely able to present the issue as a difference of opinion between Republicans and Democrats but would have actually had to report the facts.
"As it was, Accuracy in Academia, AIMís sister organization, offered to publish Stromís claims alongside my response. She declined. 'What I would like to do is run your letter, unedited, and the writerís response, as separate postings side-by-side on the same page on the same day, linking one to the other on www.campusreportonline.net on which the article that you object to originally appeared,' wrote Mal Kline, Executive Director of AIA.
"Strom insisted that we not republish the text of the emails, andóthis time using her NY Times email accountówrote that 'As I did not intend the email I sent AIMís p.r. person as a letter of any sort but as a request for correction, I respectfully decline to have it printed electronically or otherwise, in part because I do not wish to get into a public exchange with the author of the article to which I objected.' Nonetheless, she concluded that 'I also continue to believe that Ms. Stott [sic] erred in claiming a contradiction between the two articles but understand from your and her perspectives, that may be open to debate.'
"My response to Stromís claims, posted on November 13, can be read here.
"E.D. We have honored this request, until now. As ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief has submitted her own e-mail traffic with Strom, most notably on The OíReilly Factor on the Fox News Network, so shall we, in the June issue of the Campus Report newsletter. For reasons of space, we only refer to them here."
Here is Ms. Stotts' perceptive November 13, 2008 post, titled, fittingly, "Unbridled Arrogance at NY Times":
"Two weeks ago a New York Times reporter took exception to my article on ACORN election fraud, claiming that I had falsely characterized her two articles on Barack Obama and his ACORN connections as 'contradictory.'
"The email from Stephanie Strom, which was sent to our public relations representative in order to avoid a direct exchange between herself and 'the writer,' demands that AIM correct the record on two points, but she has refused to allow AIM to republish her letter alongside our organizationís response.
"The original AIM column, titled 'Will ACORN Steal the Election?,' states that 'In an October 22 story, New York Times writer Stephanie Strom actually contradicts her previous article in order to minimize the association between Obama and an arguably corrupt ACORN. She now characterizes the ACORN investigation as a partisan attempt to discredit Obama.'
"In her October 22 column, Strom wrote
'Republicans have tried to make an issue of Senator Barack Obamaís ties to the group, which he represented in a lawsuit in 1995. The Obama campaign has denied any connection with Acornís voter registration drives.'
"The October 22 article in question very specifically states that 'the Obama campaign has denied any connection with Acornís voter registration drives,' she asserts in the email, and the articles appeared 12 days apart, not eleven.
"Stromís article was posted online on October 10, but appeared in an October 11 printed version. This correspondent used the latter date for comparison. But whether or not Stromís articles were 11 or 12 days apart does little to change the substance of her contradictory and misleading reporting.
"For instance, Obama gave an ACORN subsidiary, Citizens Services Inc., over $800,000 for get out the vote projects during the primary election. This funding was originally concealed by the Obama campaign as 'staging, sound, and lighting,' 'advance work,' and 'per diem,' etc.
"Also, Stromís October 10 story refers to Sam Graham-Felsonís blog entry, which quotes Obama as saying 'Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois, Acorn was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.'
"Obamaís full statement, as reported by Graham-Felson and in part by ACORN itself, reads:
'I come out of a grassroots organizing background. Thatís what I did for three and a half years before I went to law school. Thatís the reason I moved to Chicago, was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. Iíve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.'
"The first four sentences of Obamaís remarks were corroborated by an ACORN newsletter. (The google cache of the ACORN newsletter was active on October 28, but it is no longer available. The original text was reposted by a blogger here, and AIM retains a copy of the original archived web page).
"The ACORN newsletter, published February 21, also states that 'Obama continued to work with ACORN after he was elected to state office in Illinois and then to the U.S. Senate.'
"The question remains then: was Strom aware of this when writing her October 22 article for the New York Times? It seems so.
"In her first letter to AIM, she notes that her October 10 article was trying to establish that the Obama campaign was contradicting itself. In the second letter, again trying to avoid a direct confrontation with this writer but calling for a 'correction,' she ends with the recognition that whether or not her article was 'contradictory' is open to interpretation.
"By describing this as 'Republicans' trying to 'make an issue ofÖObamaís ties to the group' instead of exposing discrepancies between the Obama campaignís current and past statements, Stromís October 22 article deliberately mislead readers about this controversy.
"Strom said that she hoped AIM would apply the same standards to its own writers that it does for other journalists. The standard applied by AIM in this case is for reporters to not simply regurgitate the assertions made by each campaign, but to check candidateís statements against their records.
"Strom can be reached at the New York Times through their website."
Congratulations, Ms. Stotts, on noting Ms. Strom's about-face. Ms. Strom's assertion that she reported a limited Obama denial is literally correct, but misleading, since then presidential candidate had asserted in the third presidential debate less than a week before Ms. Strom wrote her article, "The only involvement I've had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs."
Put me down as concluding that something very important happened between October 10, 2008 and October 21, 2008 to make Ms. Strom switch from revealing Obama connection to ACORN to simply reporting Obama denial!
Like "higher up" telling her on October 21, 2008 to "stand down" because they feared the expose on which she was working with Ms. MonCrief would be "a game changer."
Michael J. Gaynor
Biography - Michael J. Gaynor
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.
Gaynor's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.