On May 27, Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo at the New York Times filed a ridiculously incoherent, ignorant and biased report on Tea Party groups' attempts to have their organizations approved for tax-exempt status. The story's window title: "Non-Profit Applcants Chafing at IRS Tested Political Limits." The actual print edition title (Page A1, of course): "Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics." The headlines give the impression that Tea Party groups deliberately tried to test the boundaries of legality.
The pair's content also betrayed more than a little ignorance of the rules governing campaign finance, electioneering, and literature distribution. Among those interviewed for the story was Tom Zawistowski, Portage County TEA Party Executive Director. Zawistowski took great exception to their writeup in an email he distributed on Saturday (bolds are mine; additional paragraph breaks added by me):
On April 18, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll that showed 51% of Americans feel that guns in the home make it safer, compared to 29% who think otherwise. More telling is that fact that 51% of white middle class women agree with the sentiment about firearms making homes safer. Additionally, a Nexis search detailed that ABC News has yet to report this poll, and, with the exception of the Fix blog online, thePost's print edition avoided the “guns make a home safer” findings.
So, will there a correction to Jill Filipovic, Amanda Marcotte, and Co. for trying to smear the NRA as the “domestic abuse lobby? The article by New York Times’ Michael Luo that set off this meretricious commentary on guns looks like to have been a smear too far. After all, it wasn’t “intense pressure” the gun lobby that killed Obama’s anti-gun agenda. It was white middle-class women, who liked their Second Amendment rights to be left untouched by big government.
Luo's usual beat is campaign finance, where he has a hobby of trying to get the IRS interested in GOP fundraising tactics he doesn't approve of. On Monday Luo displayed a very trusting nature in government regulation, assuming that the men lawless enough to murder women would have been stopped by gun restrictions.
Luo in particular wrote several articles in 2010 suggesting the IRS and the Federal Election Commission might find it worthwhile to investigate GOP-affiliated groups making campaign ads, with Karl Rove a particular target. The Times’s concern over questionable campaign funding has certainly risen since 2008, when Obama scandals were greeted with nothing-to-see-here headline like this, from October 7, 2008: "G.O.P. Query Involves 1% of Giving to Obama." Sunday's piece is not as explicit (Obama is indulging in Super PAC's as well, as the reporters briefly note) but the implication remains:
The New York Times has been going to town on controversies over Mitt Romney’s money, from his personal tax rate to the work of Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded. Thursday’s front page story goes into excruciating detail on what is known about Romney's wealth, under the self-fulfilling headline “Romney Riches Are Being Seen as New Hurdle,” by Nicholas Confessore, David Kocieniewski, and Michael Luo. The story was touted by Charlie Rose on CBS Thursday morning and captured by the MRC's Matthew Balan. But riches were not nearly such a "hurdle" when liberal John Edwards ran for president in 2008.
It seems that if you're a New York Times reporter on a mission to prove something you think must be obvious and your research leads to the exact opposite result from what you smugly expected, you forge ahead and try to pretend that you proved your point anyway.
At least that how it seems to have worked out for Times reporter Michael Luo in a report appearing in Tuesday's print edition which tried to show readers how one state which allows residents to carry concealed weapons with a permit is allegedly allowing large numbers of dangerous people to possess them. But the way the math works out, North Carolina, the state which the Times investigated, is far safer than many jurisdictions without such laws, even given the problems cited with pulling permits from those who have committed crimes and should not still be holding them. Additionally, the murder rate among North Carolinians who don't have permits or associate with those who do is higher than it is among permit holders. Here is Luo's pathetic attempt to make a case which can't be made:
That fervent prayer by Harold of "Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" as he desperately hopes that sound of the approaching footsteps don't belong to a sadistic guard named Big Bob comes to mind when reading a New York Times article by Michael Luo. In Luo's case he is hoping that the Republicans won't gain significant victories in this November's elections. He bases his glimmers of hope on what he perceives to be signs of economic progress. It isn't a very strong peg upon which he hangs these hopes but it is pretty much all he has:
The economy is slowly recovering but remains on its sickbed, and most signs still point to a rough cycle for the party. Political analysts expect Republicans to make gains — possibly significant ones — in Congress in November, threatening to retake the House and maybe even the Senate.
But digging deeper, beyond the national numbers, reveals at least a few glimmers of hope for Democrats — still fairly distant and faint, but bright enough to get campaign strategists scanning the horizon and weighing the odds.
Heard anything about Barack Obama's sleazy online fundraising, where thanks to purposely lax security measures his site is able to receive untraceable donations from obviously fake names? Not if you've been reading the print edition of the New York Times.
Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.
Those two Post stories mark a Woodward-and-Bernstein level of intensity compared to the Times's treatment. A search indicates that the Times has published zero stories in its newspaper on recent revelations concerning the Obama campaign's avoidance of basic security measures to stop illegal contributions.
After putting it on Thursday's front page, the New York Times was still harping on Gov. Palin's wardrobe and who picked it out in three I.Q. melting stories in Friday's edition: "Wardrobe Mysteries Linger..." by Michael Luo and Eric Wilson, "...And a Whiff of Clarity" by Luo alone, plus a Metro section story.
In "Clarity," Luo tried to nail down the role in this grand conspiracy of one "Lisa A. Kine."
The F.E.C. records showed a "Lisa L. Kine" was reimbursed for more than $2,000 in charges, including those made at Pacifier, as well as others at Macy's, the Gap, Steinlauf & Stoller, a sewing supply store in New York, and Oshman Brothers, for "tailoring supplies." The New York address listed traces to Lisa Kline, not Kine. Could this be the mystery stylist for Ms. Palin?
When Politico revealed the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 outfitting Sarah Palin and her family after she was picked as John McCain's running mate, one would assume it would be worthy of a brief, snarky story buried on the New York Times's "Caucus" page, filled mostly with anonymous Republicans griping about campaign spending priorities.
But Patrick Healy and Michael Luo's "$150,000 Wardrobe for Palin May Alter Tailor-Made Image" made the front page Thursday morning. (The other major papers had more self-control.) The Times played up what they saw as the hypocritical disconnect between Palin's "Joe-six-pack" appeal and the posh wardrobe from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo wrung his hands Thursday about a potentially racially divisive ad from the North Carolina Republican party that linked two Democrats running for governor to Sen. Barack Obama and his hate-mongering former pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Despite objections from Senator John McCain, the North Carolina Republican Party is planning to roll out a television advertisement on Monday attacking two Democrats who are running for governor by linking them to Senator Barack Obama and playing a clip of his former pastor excoriating the United States.
The release of the commercial, which Republican officials in North Carolina said would make its debut during the 6 p.m. newscasts, injects a potentially divisive racial element into the campaign for the state's Democratic presidential primary, which is on May 6.
That's the second time in two days the paper has described the ad as racially divisive. On Wednesday, Patrick Healy wrote:
As Mitt Romney tries to close the gap with John McCain before the voting on Super Duper Tuesday, New York Times reporter Michael Luo took an unsympathetic look at Romney's political makeover in Tuesday's "Meet the New Mitt Romney, The Anti-Insider Populist."
Everyone hates Mitt Romney. You should too. Why? Because, among the Republican presidential candidates, he's the most disliked.
This extremely sound bit of reasoning comes in today's edition of the New York Times courtesy of reporter Michael Luo whose evidence that the other candidates think this is based on some good old-fashioned arm-chair psychology. Let's take a look:
The New York Times's Michael Cooper and Michael Luo covered the Republican debate Thursday night in Myrtle Beach, S.C., hitting the theme of a "faltering" Fred Thompson, lashing out in a desperate bid to salvage his campaign.
"Fred D. Thompson tried to salvage his faltering presidential campaign at a debate Thursday night with a barrage of sharp attacks on the 'liberal' policies of Mike Huckabee, the fellow Southerner whom he clearly sees as a rival in the South Carolina primary.
"The performance by Mr. Thompson, which including several pointed one-liners, capped a debate that showed the altered terrain of the Republican field as it moved beyond contests in Iowa and New Hampshire."
The Times portrayed Thompson as an aggressor and Mike Huckabee turning the other cheek.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo posted Sunday morning on "The Caucus" blog on his days at the recent Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the social conservative lobbying group Focus on the Family, where his Times credentials didn't exactly open doors of welcome.
Cadging about for interviews, Luo discovered once again that not everyone loves the Times.
"When I first met Mrs. Crowe, she had been wary after I identified myself as a reporter from The Times. She confessed her suspicions, saying she watched Bill O'Reilly and harbored serious reservations about The Times. I had, in fact, experienced this kind of wariness, sometimes outright hostility, from nearly every person I stopped to interview at the summit. It had gotten to the point that I was even a bit nervous of approaching anyone for fear of rejection.
Today's New York Times "Political Memo" by reporter Michael Luo, "Question of Sons' Choices Dogs Romney Campaign," reached into Michael Moore territory in relaying criticism of Republican candidate Mitt Romney for his sons' failure to serve in the military during the Iraq War.
"Mitt Romney has been asked before on the campaign trail if his sons have served in the military, and he usually has dispatched the question easily enough.
"But an awkward response last week in Iowa, in which Mr. Romney said in part that 'one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected,' forced him several days later to say he misspoke and injected a discordant note into his otherwise triumphant few days after he won the state’s Republican straw poll.