Discredited NYT Issa Story Used as Basis for Left Group's Ethics Complaint

It would appear that there is a reason beyond alleged "journalistic integrity" why the New York Times hasn't pulled its error-riddled, only partially corrected mid-August story by Eric Lichtblau ("A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself") about California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.

Issa has identified 13 serious errors in the Times story, the cumulative effect of which, in the words of Powerline's John Hinderaker several weeks ago, show the story to be "nothing but lies and fabrications ... (which) never should have been published." The Times has corrected three. Though it appears to be dead wrong on the other ten, it hasn't given any further quarter and won't pull the story. Its Public Editor, as Clay Waters at NewsBusters noted, has found Issa's request for a retraction "troubling."


What's really troubling is that it appears that the Times's intransigence is from all appearances the result of a coordinated effort to neutralize Issa. That isn't how an early Tuesday report at The Hill ("Rep. Issa hit with ethics allegations") described it, but it's impossible to escape the implications:

A liberal advocacy group is filing an ethics complaint against Rep. Darrell Issa, alleging that the California Republican has repeatedly used his public office for personal gain.

The group, American Family Voices, is planning to file the complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on Tuesday.

The five-page complaint, which was obtained by The Hill, accuses Issa of using his position as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to add to his multimillion-dollar fortune.

An Issa spokesman on Monday said the allegations have absolutely no merit and are part of a smear campaign spearheaded by the White House.

The complaint alleges that Issa pressured the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to halt an investigation of Goldman Sachs shortly after he bought a huge stake in one of Goldman’s high-yield mutual funds.

It also claims Issa used his authority to improperly defend Merrill Lynch, a firm with “which he has a significant financial interest,” the document states.

“In fact and in appearance, Rep. Issa has repeatedly — and impermissibly — used his public position to promote his private financial interests,” Mike Lux, president of American Family Voices, wrote in a letter to former Reps. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and David Skaggs (D-Colo.), co-chairmen of the OCE.

A spokesman for Issa said the complaint is part of an effort orchestrated by the White House to discredit its critics.

“This complaint is entirely without merit. The White House has used an assortment of outside progressive groups in an effort to attack Oversight and Chairman Issa directly. This is just their latest salvo in an ongoing effort to obstruct oversight,” said Frederick Hill, Issa’s spokesman.

So American Family Voices (AFV; press release here) is using a story which should never have been published to file an ethics complaint which should never have been brought so that the congressman who is hot on the trail of the Gunwallker and other Obama administration can have his credibility and integrity dragged through the mud.

Again, in case it's not clear, the Times's refusal to pull its story seems to be based on the need to provide a basis for AFV's complaint than on dogged defense of the truth.

And who is AFV? No surprise here:

American Family Voices serves as an umbrella group that helps fund a broad network of organizations – including civil rights, environmental, women’s rights, consumer advocacy and health care organizations, and multi-issue think tanks – and build their infrastructure, both in the field and in communications.

We also fill gaps in the progressive movement by conducting research and providing strategic messaging and public relations work that nobody is doing, which helps to drive new media stories.

AFV's somewhat dated Projects page indicates that it is the driving force behind Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and "the Progressive Donor Network." And though I wouldn't want to mistake by confusing people with the same names, AFV's board is from all appearances "progressively" connected.

Powerline's Hinderaker described the situation perfectly in a Tuesday post:

This is how the Left operates: they pay for lies to be published, and then demand investigations on the basis of those lies.

... The word “corruption” is often tossed around in connection with politics, generally wrongly. In my opinion, this story illustrates the real corruption that infects our public life.

Indeed.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.