Patterico: LA Times op-ed by ACORN consultant did not disclose writer’s link

from Patterico’s Pontifications
October 24, 2009

My Letter to the Editorial Page Editor of the L.A. Times Regarding That Fact-Challenged Pro-ACORN Op-Ed Written by the ACORN Consultant

I have sent the following e-mail to Nick Goldberg, the Editorial Page Editor for the Los Angeles Times:

Nick,

A recent op-ed in your paper defending ACORN makes at least two factual misstatements: 1) that ACORN staff offered to help shield an underage prostitution ring at only two offices, and 2) that no voter fraudulently registered to vote by ACORN had ever actually cast a ballot. Furthermore, your paper failed to disclose that the author of the op-ed, Peter Dreier, has been a (presumably paid) consultant for ACORN in the past . . . something that might help explain how he botched the facts so badly.

I think the paper should issue corrections of the two false facts, and disclose Dreier’s past consulting work for ACORN.

This e-mail will be a little long, because I’m showing my work. While it might seem like an imposition to ask you to read such a long e-mail, I believe I’m doing you a favor, because I’m laying out the research necessary to show that corrections are warranted.

Let’s start with Dreier’s false claim that only two offices offered to help shield an underage prostitution ring:

Two “gotcha” right-wing activists showed up at about 10 ACORN offices hoping to entice low-level staff to provide tax advice for an illegal prostitution ring. In most ACORN offices, the staff kicked the pair out. In a few cities, staffers called the police. In two offices, however, the staff listened and offered to help. That was wrong. But ACORN immediately fired the errant staffers.

“Two” offices? Try at least five, if not more. Let’s start with the two that Dreier appears to acknowledge…

…Now, when I read this piece, I wondered: how could the man get these facts so badly wrong? A commenter of mine pointed out one possible motive: he has been a consultant for ACORN. As Dreier’s online bio states:

He has worked closely with a wide range of community organizations, labor unions, and public interest organizations, and has worked as a consultant for a variety of foundations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), VISTA, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the MacArthur Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the California AFL-CIO, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, ACORN, the Industrial Areas Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others.

This was not disclosed in the L.A. Times piece, which says only the following about Dreier:

Peter Dreier is a professor of politics at Occidental College [CAJ emphasis]. His study of media coverage of ACORN can be found here.

The lengthy and well-documented letter can be read in its entirety here.

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