Secret Agent Editors

The Obama scandals bring a new era of opacity at the New York Times.

by James Taranto
The Wall Street Journal
September 28, 2009

Clark Hoyt, “public editor” of the New York Times, has weighed in on his paper’s coverage of the ACORN scandal–or rather its lack thereof. Right off the bat, he delivers a half-truth:

On Sept. 12, an Associated Press article inside The Times reported that the Census Bureau had severed its ties to Acorn, the community organizing group. Robert Groves, the census director, was quoted as saying that Acorn, one of thousands of unpaid organizations promoting the 2010 census, had become “a distraction.”

What the article didn’t say–but what followers of Fox News and conservative commentators already knew–was that a video sting had caught Acorn workers counseling a bogus prostitute and pimp on how to set up a brothel staffed by under-age girls, avoid detection and cheat on taxes.

…The Obama administration, as we noted Wednesday, was supposed to usher in a new era of transparency in government. Instead we find ourselves in a new era of opacity, not only in government but in the media. The New York Times now employs secret agent editors.

Hoyt writes, of the sex-slavery sting, that “most news organizations consider such tactics unethical–The Times specifically prohibits reporters from misrepresenting themselves or making secret recordings.” True enough. But even James O’Keefe told the Acorn employees his name. At least in that sense, he was more honest with his targets than the Times now is with its readers.

The complete article is at the Wall Street Journal.

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