Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why has the New York Times ignored Forest City Ratner's bailout of ACORN?

Why isn't the revelation that Forest City Ratner has bailed out the embattled advocacy organization ACORN with $1.5 million in loan/grant funds national news?

It should be--especially in the New York Times.

(Update: WNYC did a brief story, which didn't make the point that nobody announced the bailout at the time.)

The first bailout

After all, the Times ran an 8/16/08 article, headlined Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Its Funds Were Embezzled, about the organization's first bailout. It began:
When the embezzlement of almost $1 million by the brother of the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as Acorn, surfaced last month, the organization announced that an anonymous supporter had agreed to make it whole.

That supporter was Drummond Pike, the founder and chief executive of the Tides Foundation, which channels money to what it describes as progressive nonprofits, including some Acorn charitable affiliates.

Mr. Pike is a friend of Wade Rathke, the founder of Acorn and its leader until the scandal broke, and he agreed to buy the promissory note that required the Rathke family to repay Acorn the money that Mr. Rathke’s brother, Dale, had stolen.

The FCR bailout

An article in the Times about the new revelations could follow the very same structure.

In the example below, I've kept some of the same sentences but made changes in red:
When the embezzlement of almost $1 million by the brother of the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as Acorn, surfaced last July and led to a drop-off in donations and news of taxes owed, the organization quietly recruited funds from a partner in New York City's most controversial development project.

That partner was Forest City Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, whih has signed a Community Benefits Agreement that includes a housing deal that requires ACORN to publicly support the $4 billion project.

Forest City Ratner is an ally of Bertha Lewis, ACORN's interim chief organizer and the replacement for Wade Rathke, its leader until the scandal broke.


And yes, there's a reason the Times should have made a special effort to be exacting in its coverage. It would be explained thusly:

(Forest City Ratner was the development partner with the New York Times Company in building the recently opened Times Tower in Midtown.)

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