Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Times Public Editor passes on an opportunity to mention Forest City Ratner's bailout of ACORN

So New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt today follows up on last week's ACORN column with a piece headlined Notes About Bias, From Opposite Points of View. He begins:
LAST Sunday’s column about the coverage of Acorn prompted nearly 400 messages and online comments from readers, some convinced that The Times is suppressing news that might damage liberals, and others equally convinced that The Times is about to cave in to extremists on the right.

The rest of the story?

After ventilating debate about the sting-scandal regarding ACORN, in the last part of the column, Hoyt moves on:
Others want to know more about Acorn, but not the same things. Jill Adams of Makanda, Ill., asked, “Why has there been so little coverage of the good work that Acorn has done?” David Holtkamp of Los Alamos, N.M., wanted a follow-up on the various investigations of Acorn for voter registration fraud.

Acorn seems to be a study in grays, not the blacks and whites so many paint it with. Bayyinah Tariq of New Bern, N.C., said Acorn helped her son and “countless others” buy their first homes. The group has helped low-income people by advocating for affordable housing and higher minimum wages. But Acorn, which is really a network of affiliated groups, has long been troubled by management problems. The brother of its founder embezzled nearly $1 million, which Acorn initially covered up — a story reported by The Times. An internal report last year, also obtained by The Times, found many management lapses.

Missing the Ratner-ACORN connection

Hoyt, however, did not take the opportunity to reference my comment on last week's story:
There’s a far more substantial ACORN story that the Times and nearly all of the mainstream press has ignored.

Following an embezzlement scandal that led to the loss of foundation support, ACORN was bailed out last year with a $500,000 grant and $1 million loan from… Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, a developer which counts ACORN as a partner on the enormously controversial Atlantic Yards project.

That’s news in itself.

Given Forest City Ratner’s business relationship with the New York Times Company, parent of the newspaper, in building the recently-opened Times Tower, I’ve argued that the Times has an obligation to be exacting in its coverage of the developer and its projects, notably Atlantic Yards. The Times has not done so.

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