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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Pseudo Journalist Strikes Again

tMichelle Malkin is at it again and now she brings her shoddy style of journalism to the ACORN story. She is jumping over a report in the New Orleans Times Picayune that the embezzlement by Dale Rathke could have been as much as $5 million. First, here's what the Picayune story says.


Louisiana’s attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

Here's what Malkin says about this.


The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports tonight that the ACORN/Rathke
embezzlement sum was $5 million, not the widely cited $1 million figure admitted
publicly to date by the left-wing racketeering group.

Of course, it's not totally clear from the story that the embezzlement is $5 million or that the scope of the investigation is $5 million, including the embezzlement.

Now, all of this may seem like a minor point but it's not. That's because Malkin frames the story to tout her favorite former ACORN insider, Anita Moncrief.


Former ACORN/Project Vote worker Anita MonCrief — the independent whistleblower who worked closely with NYTimes reporter Stephanie Strom on exposing ACORN financial shenanigans last year before Times editors “cut bait” just weeks before Election Day — informed Strom that the true figure was $5 million.

MonCrief also reported the $5 million figure to Warner Todd Huston in April 2009.


Here's a few things that Malkin doesn't say about Moncrief. First, the embezzlement was only discussed within ACORN at a board meeting in November of 2008. Anita Moncrief was never on the board of ACORN. So, if she does know the amount of the embezzlement, her knowledge is entirely second hand. I just got off the phone with former ACORN board member Michael McCray. He told me that it's always been unclear how much the embezzlement was because the ACORN executive council told the board a series of numbers at that board meeting and he recalls the final number being close to $5 million. As such, ACORN 8 will not stipulate to exactly how much the embezzlement was because they don't know. They continue to maintain that questions surrounding this and other questions mean that ACORN must go through a full, independent forensic audit.

Second, Malkin doesn't say that Anita Moncrief was let go from Project VOTE because she falsely applied for a Project VOTE business credit card and used that credit card to run up more than a thousand dollars worth of personal expenses. Moncrief doesn't deny this. She stipulates that this happened. So, Malkin scoffs at the New York Times for not using her number but in fact, Moncrief's credibility is in question. There are many reasons why the New York Times didn't merely print her number and not all of them are nefarious to protect ACORN and Obama.

More than that, Moncrief is technically not a whistleblower, not in the way a real whistle blower would be. Anyone who has read my work knows I have covered many whistle blowers. A traditional whistle blower blows the whistle on corruption while still a part of the organization. That's important because by doing that you immediately become a target for that organization. I just did a television show with two such Chicago area whistle blowers that did exactly that. Moncrief was fired from Project Vote for the aforementioned theft she engaged in. Project VOTE had every right to fire her. It was only after she was fired that she blew the whistle. You can see where it would be easy for ACORN to scream that Moncrief has an axe to grind.

It's hard to find even one story that Malkin writes about Moncrief and ACORN in which she points out all of this about Moncrief. Keep in mind, that doesn't mean that Moncrief is not telling the truth, but if you are going to publish some one's accusations, you must tell the whole story. That Moncrief embezzled, was fired, and only after that did she blow the whistle is vital, if she is the one you reference each and every time you reference ACORN corruption.

Then, Malkin takes from shoddy to vicious and reprehensible. She first quotes McCray in an interview he did with fellow blogger Doug Ross. In that interview, McCray says everything he just told me. No one knows exactly how much the embezzlement was for and that the figure could be as high as $5 million. That's because at the meeting McCray was at ACORN's executive council said several different figures and the last one was close to $5 million. McCray ended his interview with Ross by stipulating again that it's vital to have a full forensic audit. So, what does Malkin do with this interview?


Michael Gaynor noted at the time in response to McCray: “Tellingly, Mr. McCray did NOT complain about keeping the information from prosecutors and the public. Perhaps that is because ACORN 8 leaders also kept important information from prosecutors and the public and put off the possibility of legal action to protect then presidential candidate Obama’s election prospects. Incredibly, Mr. McCray essentially claimed that bad leadership is ACORN’s only problem. Mr. McCray admitted that the ACORN 8 are out to replace the current ACORN control group, but the ideological difference is limited…Mr. McCray and the ACORN 8 did not complaint that ACORN has functioned wrongfully as an unofficial arm of the Democrat Party for many years. Instead, Mr. McCray celebrated ACORN’s “effectiveness” and complained only about ACORN leadership corruption.


To borrow a line from A Few Good Men, "who the f%^k is PFC Michael Gaynor?" A third grade journalist would know that you can't simply quote someone. You have to identify them. What if Michael Gaynor got beat by Michael McCray in the state championship twenty years ago and he simply hates McCray? Would it be right to quote him then? Malkin can't simply quote Gaynor. She must tell the readers why a quote from Gaynor should hold any weight. She doesn't. She can't level any charges herself so she quotes someone else to level the charges for her. I've emailed Gaynor and asked what evidence he has to back up these assertions and I will update if and when he gets back to me.

It turns out that Gaynor is a blogger at a site I've never heard of, and he says he's an attorney. He also writes a lot about ACORN and not coincidentally, the one person that he references throughout is the aforementioned Anita Moncrief. Does an unknown journalist sound like a credible source? If not, why is Malkin quoting him? So, we have two journalists that write about a story incessantly and both, for the most part, have the same source. Then, one journalist quotes the other to take a potshot at another principle in the story. Doesn't this sound like exactly the sort of corruption that Ms. Malkin just made a lot of money writing about? Don't you think that the same conflict of interest that Ms. Malkin claims to abhor is in play here? Why doesn't Ms. Malkin say all of this when quoting Gaynor? Furthermore, Gaynor has been taking potshots at McCray for months. It got so bad that the recently departed Nancy Armstrong finally took a blog post to finally defend McCray. (for full disclosure I knew Nancy when she lived and we often shared information on ACORN back and forth) None of this is mentioned when Malkin quoted him. (unfortunately Nancy's site has been taken down since her passing)

In fact, the whole interlude is curious. McCray's interview is quoted as more evidence that people knew or suspected that the embezzlement was in the neighborhood of $5 million. Then, she quotes Michael Gaynor who attacks McCray. Well, if you take what Gaynor says at face value, the who cares what Michael McCray thinks since he can't be trusted anyway. So, why quote Gaynor at all then? If it's merely about being fair and balanced, then the fair thing would have been to allow McCray to respond. Either way, the manner in which Malkin presents this is a perversion to journalism.

As for what Gaynor said, here's the breakdown. First, how does Gaynor know what ACORN 8 gave or didn't give to authorities in regards to ACORN? Does he have a source in the FBI? Isn't that information that someone like him would likely not have? As for Obama, McCray says that there was simply not enough evidence of wrongdoing between Obama and ACORN for ACORN 8 to go public with. McCray is himself a whistle blower. Everyone in ACORN 8 is a whistle blower. All whistle blowers know that your credibility is constantly in jeopardy. As McCray told me, "you can say one hundred right things and as soon as you say anything inaccurate, your enemies will use it against you". So, ACORN 8 didn't focus on connections between Obama and ACORN because they had much stronger evidence on other things. Where was this side of the story? It was nowhere because Malkin didn't contact McCray to respond. How's that for shoddy journalism? Gaynor also expresses shock that McCray and others in ACORN 8 believe in ACORN's mission. They're all former ACORN board members for heaven's sake. Do people normally join a board of a group they don't believe in? Of course, McCray believes in ACORN's mission. That's why he joined ACORN and that's why he joined the board. What would have been incredible is if he had joined ACORN while not believing in their mission.

McCray said he and others in ACORN 8 didn't complain about ACORN being an "unofficial arm of the Democratic Party" because ACORN 8 doesn't have solid evidence of this, or certainly of wrongdoing in this capacity. Keep in mind, ACORN 8 was borne out of the investigation surrounding the embezzlement by Dale Rathke. That's where most of ACORN 8's evidence against ACORN lies. That's what they focus on. Is that a reason to impugn McCray's character? McCray also readily admits that he and many of ACORN 8 members are Democrats and a poll would likely find overwhelming support for the President. So what? Is someone's reputation impugned because they support Obama? The goal of ACORN 8 is to reform ACORN so that it gets back to its original mission of helping the poor. It's not to take down Obama. All of this McCray might have told Malkin if she bothered to reach him prior to publishing this piece.

Now, frankly, I wouldn't care what Ms. Malkin says except she makes money saying. Her style of journalism shouldn't get any more readers than the average blog. To make this many mistakes over and over and continue to make money in journalism is what I have a problem with. You simply can't treat journalism the way that Malkin does and be allowed to continue making money doing it. Her readers and anyone that continues to put her on the air are the ones at fault here. This is not the first time that Malkin has totally and erroneously gotten a story wrong. I caught her describing the ACORN name change totally inaccurately. (something Malkin never acknowledged when she just happened to fix it in the early hours of the morning the next morning following the publishing of my article the previous evening) She turned the Olympics into an Obama operation. She has made every leap between ACORN and Obama no matter how loose they are. From the beginning, she has told the ACORN story almost strictly from the perspective of Anita Moncrief and she's never once disclosed that to the audience. Enough is enough. Shoddy journalism must be described as such. Michelle Malkin doesn't deserve to make money as a journalist and her work continues to bear that out.

5 comments:

Richard L. Kent, Esq. said...

shotty style of journalism?

It's a shoddy journalist who doesn't even know how to spell his native language. Assuming it is.

Blayne said...

1) Use the spell checker; even "shotty" journalists need to use it sometimes.

2) It's Times-Picayune, not Piscayne.

3) You've got chutzpah calling someone else a pseudo journalist after that weak sauce hit piece you just attempted.

mike volpe said...

that's the thing about spell check. You can always use it and correct. Now, beyond the spelling errors, I assume no one has any problems with the piece.

My piece is not a weak hit piece. The quote from Gaynor about McCray is a hit piece. That's because there was no evidence to back up his assertion. Malkin quoting him is another hit piece.

I backed up everything I said.

mike volpe said...

I've been rejecting several comments from an anonymous commenter and it's because they insist on using swear words. I have no problem with you pointing out every single spelling mistake but please don't swear.

I will point out that your fascination with each and every small spelling mistake without addressing the point of the piece, speaks for itself.

Michelle Malkin quotes Michael Gaynor and doesn't say who Gaynor is but you seem to be fixated with new as opposed to knew.

Sree said...

Hello Mr. Volpe,

Personally, I think you did a great job highlighting exactly what is wrong with Malkin's work. Her recurring habit of omitting important facts, while projecting baseless, unsubstantiated hyperbole, speaks not just to shoddy "journalism", but to a reckless dismissal of bona-fide journalistic honor and integrity.

Simply put, Malkin isnt a journalist, she is a sloppy propagandist.

She may have all the spell-checkers that Murdoch's money can buy. But that hardly makes up for the complete lack of substance, reliability and accountability which she shares with almost all of her colleagues at the Fox News network (e.g., consider the mathematically miraculous "120%" which Fox&Friends offered for their Rasmussen findings, or the unbelievably tasteless "first they came for the rich..." speech which Ingraham tried to pull-off at a recent tea-party.)

Malkin's obvious journalistic weaknesses are representative of the problems endemic to her entire network as a whole. Their lack of professional ethics, and their clear dismissal of journalistic integrity, are matched only by their poorly orchestrated behavior, as evidenced during their own broadcasts.

I mean, have you ever noticed how Malkin's face changes when she's "reporting" a story? Its so creepy and unprofessional, but it's the exact same theatrical mode which she shares with almost all of her fellow Fox'ers.
Her eyes glaze over, she feigns hyperventilation, and she seems to drool and flush over every dramatic syllable which she speaks.

I hope this doesn't counter the blog-rules against obscene speech, but it really seems like she's pinching a very difficult loaf, when she should be reporting the news. Considering the rubbish which she thoughtlessly circulates, that might be entirely appropriate.