Journalistic Breach At The New York Times

In what should have been a good, hard hitting and relevant story about something John Edwards should explain, his employment of political operatives in his non-profit poverty organization, Leslie Wayne of the New York Times breaches the most important rule of journalism - report facts as facts, not the reporter's opinions as facts. Wayne's lede is simply intolerable:

John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff. Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. . .

(Emphasis supplied.) That is Wayne's opinion, not a reported fact. Wayne does not have Edwards saying it nor any evidence to point to other than her own opinion of Edwards' motivations. This is simply unacceptable journalism. Instead of reporting the facts, which do require explanation, Wayne instead basically states AS A FACT that John Edwards committed a crime. Tax fraud.

It is appalling. And now the irresponsible work of Wayne should become a story, along with Edwards' practices. Shame on the New York Times, Leslie Wayne and the editor who let this through.

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    actually, it isn't even close (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:31:34 PM EST
    to tax fraud, as non-profits go. this organization falls under sect. 501(c)(4) of the internal revenue code, not (3). as such, advocacy is allowable, and contributions to the organization are not deductible. as long as they don't overtly advocate mr. edward's, or anyone else's, election, they are fine.

    whether or not it's a "novel" or "brilliant" solution for mr. edwards is a matter of opinion, that i leave to others more competent than i to judge.

    however, as a tax pro, i can tell you that, based on the facts in the public eye so far, there's no "there, there".

    So the implication of the story (none / 0) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:55:33 PM EST
    is basically a lie.

    yep (none / 0) (#30)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 04:26:43 PM EST
    pretty much so.

    Killing the Campaign (none / 0) (#1)
    by RustedView on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:26:14 PM EST
    [I really need to do more work but..]
    I think this is just part of the campaign to kill Edwards campaign.  First with the video fixing the hair, then with the haircut and makeup costs.  Have we looked into the costs of the other candidates grooming?

    Edwards keeps speaking about poverty, the middle class, issues that intimately affect the everyday life of people (not that Iraq doesn't, but, its the economy stupid).

    I can't tell if it is actual malice, or they just don't want to cover three serious candidates.

    That could be an issue (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:28:20 PM EST
    But in this post I aqm focusing on a grievous breach of journalistic standards that is inexcusable.

    The editor who let this through needs to be severely repirmanded and a correction should be issued.


    Edwards' Non-Profit (1.00 / 1) (#9)
    by talex on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:10:47 PM EST
    was as transparent as they come. Anyone who did not see this as an extension of his 2004 candidacy and a conduit to 2008 was just brain dead. He carried his theme of Two Americas right into the non-profit and even mentioned his 2004 campaign in his speeches he did for the non-profit. Of course this non-profit was all about 2008! And of course this kept his 'Presidential' profile high.

    Not to say he is not sincere and passionate about poverty - he is. But come on you know the guy was going to run again and this was a 'brilliant' move on his part. He got to employ former staff and reserve them for 2008 in the process. He got the benefits that a non-profit offers that a normal exploratory political committee can't. He got to travel the country on non-profit contributions that he raised and campaign on his main theme - poverty.

    Anyone who did not see what this non-profit was achieving besides the real poverty work please bow you head in shame.

    As for the Times piece this was not the first article to talk about the obvious. Business Week did a short piece earlier this year. Forbes did a piece. And even Common Dreams juxtaposes the non-profit and Edwards run in 2008:

    In the age of George W., Wal-mart, and free market ideology, few public officials or candidates for office have much to say about the persistence of poverty in the world's wealthiest nation. Yet here was Edwards, calculating whether and how to run for president, at a two-day seminar on poverty that, while attracting 200 people, really had only one student.

    The March conference was sponsored by the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina, a research institute Edwards founded last year after his defeat as the Democratic vice presidential candidate in November 2004.

    So some 'facts' are just facts based on the obvious. No quotes are needed. No numerical evidence need be presented. Did Bush lie us into war? Yes. Is that a fact we can all agree on? Sure. Has Bush admitted that he lied us into war? No. But just because we don't have "[Bush] saying it nor any evidence to point to" does not change that it is fact.

    Give Edwards credit. He took his main theme, which is an important one, and wove it into a non-profit that allowed him to battle poverty while at the same time maintaining his staff and traveling the country building his Presidential profile.

    I saw what he was doing from the get-go. So did many others. And those who didn't need to take Marketing 101 because what Edwards did was brilliant marketing.


    Ot post (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:15:23 PM EST
    this is about the article's treating the opinion of the reporter, which is similar to yours, as a fact.

    It seems you can not even stay on topic on a subject like this.


    Oh but I did (1.00 / 1) (#14)
    by talex on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:53:51 PM EST
    address the post quite throughly and eloquently. 90% of what I wrote was fact. If you want to dispute those facts you are free to do so but a weak and incorrect accusation that I did not address the post is just plain wrong. I showed exactly why what Wayne said was not opinion.

    Like I said anyone who cannot see that the non-profit was duel purpose should bow their head in shame. Something that is obvious and is then spoken about is not opinion - it is fact. According to Webster's 'Obvious' means: easily discovered, seen, or understood - (synonym see EVIDENT).

    What is not EVIDENT to you does not mean that it is not EVIDENT to others. It was EVIDENT to Forbes and to Business Week and I'll take their savvy and knowledge and editorial skills over your 'opinion' that what was easily EVIDENT is not just opinion as you say.

    Heck the author of the Lefty Common Dreams even saw it as EVIDENT.

    You are entitled to your 'opinion' but your 'opinion' is not 'fact'. There are others with far more street cred that disagree with you. Forbes and Business Week being just two.


    talex once again (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:59:12 PM EST
    repeated a falsehood jut for trolling purposes.

    Are you paid to disrupt this site or is it just a hobby?


    Sailor (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by talex on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 02:36:03 PM EST
    You got your facts wrong.

    There are differing opinions on this blog every day - yet you don't call them trolls. In other words not everyone see things exactly the same. But for some reason you and Armando seem to single me out for having differing opinions but you don't single out others for having differing opinions. That is very prejudicial on both of your parts.

    Now I notice you didn't address my post at all. Why? Couldn't you disagree? You see both Forbes and Business Week said the same thing Wayne did. And as I said I saw what Edwards was doing from the get-go prior to what Forbes, Business Week, and Common Dreams wrote. All the links are there for you to read.

    But Armando tries to ignore those links like they do not exist because they are authorities and upset his silly theory that only what he sees as evident is actually evident. And neither Forbes or Business Week not Common Dreams can possibly be right unless he says so. That is so silly you must admit.

    So instead of acknowledging the evidence that Wayne is not alone in seeing what is Evident Armando resorts to what Armando always resorts to - name calling. As if calling someone who has presented evidence from Forbes, Business Week,  and Common Dreams makes him smart. It doesn't. It makes him stubborn is what it does.

    If you presented evidence from three credible sources and had someone call you a fool and a stupid liar would you consider them smart?

    Come on! That is also calling Forbes, Business Week, and Common Dreams a fool and a stupid liar and we know that is not true.


    One more (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:30:41 PM EST
    Quote where those publications did that so I can add them to my post and rip them too.

    Any Media entity that prints opinions as fact is engaged in groos journalistic malpractice.

    It is a simpel point that you either don't under stand and choose not to, the latter option makes you a troll.


    well it worked (none / 0) (#28)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:38:30 PM EST
    Talex is now over his limit.

    Talex Declares Self Eloquent. n/t (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by andgarden on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 04:06:45 PM EST
    Everyone has some'one' who loves them. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Edger on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 07:05:02 PM EST
    Two more (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:58:51 PM EST
    I showed exactly why what Wayne said was not opinion.

    You are truly a fool. You are saying that the bolded part of the article is factual reporting not opinion.

    A stupid liar as always.

    2 more stupid comments for you today here.


    Bush lied us into war? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:17:01 PM EST
    When the New York Times writes that in a lede in an article you will have an on topic discussion.

    AS you always sem to do, you find it impossible to address the point of the post.


    Kind of hard to get too excited about this, given (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:30:32 PM EST
    the opinions posted in the blogosphere w/o benefit of factual support.  (Not talking about you, BTD.)

    Well (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:32:28 PM EST
    The New York Times remains the paper of record.

    I disagree woith you. I expect more from the Times than that. Or a t the least, I am demanding it.


    I do too. After all, I'm paying them (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:40:31 PM EST
    $50+ a month for home delivery. I just wish more bloggers lived or died by a similar code of ethics.  you know I read and admire your work.  I'm talking about the macro blogosphere.  

    bloggers by definition ... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:57:26 PM EST
    ... do opinion and commentary. This is a reporter for the NYT.

    Bloggers are not able to start a war with iraq; judith miller at the NYT certainly played her part.


    You are truly naive (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by HeadScratcher on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:15:47 PM EST
    If you believe that there is no way for a reporter's bias to make its way into legitimate news stories.

    And reporters can't start wars. They can certainly play a part in inflaming passions, but bloggers do that too...


    This is what editors are for. (none / 0) (#25)
    by lilybart on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:18:20 PM EST
    An editor should pick up phrases that are opinion, fact, and have them rewritten.

    Of course, we are all human and fallible, so bias will creep in, but there are mechanisms in place to fix this as much as possible.

    At least with the NY Post, we KNOW what the bias always is. Sicko got a terrible review but it was going to before it was made.


    I was in the sandbox with Mrs Bill Keller (none / 0) (#24)
    by lilybart on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:16:11 PM EST
    in the Hamptons a couple of summers ago. So was Christiane Amanpour.  Mrs. Keller was saying that Bill was dealing with reporter problems (Miller et al) like it was just an annoyance, and Christiane said, " Well, they got us into war now didn't they?"

    Great moment in elite media mothering!


    Low-hanging fruit. Wealthy (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 12:28:19 PM EST
    plaintiffs' trial lawyer advocates more equitable distribution of wealth.  

    Mrs Rudy (none / 0) (#21)
    by lilybart on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:09:45 PM EST
    is spending a large fortune on not looking like a sleezy goldigger.  (catty I know, but I live in NYC and I cannot stand her.

    BTD (none / 0) (#7)
    by HeadScratcher on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:04:03 PM EST
    While agree that the article is based on opinion rather than fact, and that using words like "novel solution" is rather harsh, I did not see where she basically accused him of committing tax fraud. She quoted someone saying that this could be right on the line - but never did she say he committed tax fraud.

    Here's a question - where did she get the story to begin with?

    tax fraud.

    I assume the story came from one of his opponents. Unless there was some enterprise journalism going on.

    The story, not the article, is a sound one and should be covered.

    The problem is the article.


    I respectfully Disagree (none / 0) (#22)
    by HeadScratcher on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:12:12 PM EST
    I understand your point, I just disagree. If that were truly the case she would have backed it up with something more definitive from the IRS.

    The big problem is that this is opinion masking as reporting. Most journalism is that...


    Well (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:28:43 PM EST
    I'[ll take your agreement on point 2 and move on.

    I gather from the article that the IRS (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:28:11 PM EST
    forms submitted by some of the older non-profits were released.

    oh darn it! (none / 0) (#13)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:33:16 PM EST
    the damn point of the thread! yes, the reporter inserted opinion in the story, her editor let it through. this is the nyt's we're talking about, why on earth is that a surprise to you?

    I am naive apparently (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:59:42 PM EST
    possibly (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 11:46:23 PM EST
    comatose for the past 15 years?

    Talex (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:28:09 PM EST
    You wasted your last one on a troll comment.

    No more commenting from you today.

    All further comments will be deleted.

    Talex and forbes (none / 0) (#35)
    by diogenes on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:03:29 PM EST
    So you all got Talex to use his last comment before giving his links, which would have been useful to all.  And you crow about it.  Congratulations.  Jeralyn should give Talex an extra post to simply post links.

    Talex could have given his links (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:15:28 PM EST
    in his comments instead of doing what he does.

    Nonetheless, I will search for the links for you and see what you think/


    Here is the link (none / 0) (#37)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:35:10 PM EST

    Suffice it to say that unlike Talex claims, the Forbes (really an AP story BTW), nowhere does the story claim that Edwards formed the entity in order to perpetuate his campaign team. It does not state as a FACT an opinion on Edwards' motivations.

    In short, Talex is proven to be a liar ONCE AGAIN.


    Edwards is a great lawyer (none / 0) (#39)
    by diogenes on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 07:25:04 PM EST
    The link states no FACTS but refers to "nonpartisan" attributions that the foundation was convenient for the political effort.  The link also states that Edwards' campaign team was perpetuated in the foundation, although it did not state a fact about Edwards' motivations.
    John Edwards is an immensely good trial lawyer who knows how to stay on the legal edge of the law.  An informed reader can infer his motivation; perhaps he wanted to keep a campaign team together, and perhaps he was doing it all for the poor people.  

    Who wants Edwards out of the way and why? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Aaron on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 10:22:09 PM EST
    I think maybe this article lends some credence to something I began noticing back in 2003. Powerful forces within the Democratic party did not seem to want Edwards on the Democratic ticket in 2004, and apparently those same forces don't want him to win the nomination or be on the ticket in 2008.

    Though many people considered him a stronger candidate than John Kerry for the Democrats in the last presidential election, for reasons that can only be speculated upon, the forces that be within the Democratic Party seem to prefer almost anyone over Edwards.  I'd really like to know why, and what this is all about.  There is something going on here that no one is talking about, at least not directly.  I hear hints of it here and there among the power brokers, and those who move around them, but as of yet I'm not quite able to put my finger on exactly what it is about Edwards that they find so threatening.

      I think this phenomenon is definitely worth looking into, and the blogging world may now have sufficient resources to uncover the secret at the heart of what to my mind seems to be a deepening mystery.

    Why the NYTimes allowed this (none / 0) (#41)
    by MontanaMaven on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 03:19:20 PM EST
    I too have been following this since 2003 when to my surprise as a Yankee, I started following the message of this wicked smart lawyer from North Carolina.  Like Dean, Edwards was not controllable.  That's my take on whoever these "powerful forces' are and why they didn't like Edwards or Dean.  Edwards was more dangerous because he would have won in a landslide and really would have had a mandate.    Kerry they could control.  The hit pieces by Jodi Wilgoren and  Adam Nagourney on Edwards ran almost weekly. And now it's starting again.  Look how many articles have the word "populist" in them lately.  I am doing a blog entry on that.  A Reuters reporter linked Edwards and Tancredo together as "populists".  
    Next I suppose they'll compare him to Wallace.