- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

Admitting fault

The New York Times has acknowledged twice this month that it has been too late to cover stories emerging from conservative-leaning outlets, namely the controversy leading up to the resignation of President Obama’s “green jobs czar” and scandals uncovered by activist filmmakers at a nationally recognized nonprofit.

Ombudsman Clark Hoyt wrote Saturday that Times writers failed to recognize the outrage that exploded when James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles posted videos on Andrew Breitbart’s Web site BigGovernment.com showing workers at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now advising Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles how to obtain federal funds to run a brothel.

Mr. Hoyt described the expose as an “intriguing” story. “But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from ACORN, the Times stood still,” he wrote.

Hr. Hoyt said, “Its slow reflexes - closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House adviser - suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs. Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like the Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.”

To help keep up on the news, Managing Editor Jill Abramson and Executive Editor Bill Keller have selected an editor to “monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies.” They would not name who that editor was, however, out of fear that person would be forced to deal with “a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere.”

The gauntlet

Matt Latimer wants to face off on live television against the White House officials with whom he worked who have been bashing his new tell-all book about what he saw working as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Latimer, author of “Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor,” made this challenge Saturday evening during an appearance on Fox’s “Geraldo Rivera At Large.”

“I’m going to make a little news here,” he said. “I’d love to have Dana Perino, Ed Gillespie and Bill McGurn come on ‘Geraldo Live’ or any other program with me.”

Team Latimer e-mailed a news release later that night to draw even more attention to Mr. Latimer’s call and positive comments from conservative columnist Ann Coulter about the book. She also appeared on the program that evening and said she thought the book was “completely true and completely hilarious.”

But the people Mr. Latimer talks about in the book don’t agree. Mrs. Perino has spoken poorly of the book on Fox News several times and wrote in a blog post for National Review, “I’m pretty sure that almost everyone who worked in the White House could not pick Matt out of a lineup, and I doubt that’ll change much after this book,” adding that “Speech-less” should have been called “Shameless.”

Mr. McGurn recently wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal that suggested Mr. Latimer was sour because Mr. Bush didn’t give him enough attention and said the book presented a “highly distorted view of some very good people during some very tough times,” among other things.

Mr. Rivera seemed willing to host the forum if the former “Bushies” as Mr. Latimer’s news release called them, would agree. “Matt Latimer is throwing down the gauntlet,” Mr. Rivera said.

Mr. Latimer hadn’t gotten any takers by Sunday afternoon.

“I know there are people such as those I named whispering into the ears of producers and TV hosts with falsehoods about me and my book,” Mr. Latimer said in an e-mail to The Washington Times. “I say, ‘Let’s come out in the open and discuss it honestly.’ I have nothing to hide.”

Romney rouses

Former Republican presidential-primary contender Mitt Romney is still making the rounds to Republican groups across the country, addressing a group of activists in Michigan.

The former Massachusetts governor hit on big-issue topics such as the economy, foreign policy and domestic challenges in a Saturday dinner address to attendees at the 2009 Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, which was sponsored by the Michigan Republican Party.

He tailored some of his remarks for the hometown crowd, but that seemed more targeted to the national stage. For example, he lamented Michigan’s high unemployment numbers by saying, “Detroit needs to be given a Giuliani-style shake-up,” and at the same time paying a compliment to the former New York City mayor and former presidential-primary rival.

But, according to released remarks, Mr. Romney was also critical of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy.

“President Obama wants to lift America above the competing players on the world stage - to become more of a neutral player, an arbiter - to rise above the conflict between the contending forces, the autocracies and the socialists and the democracies,” Mr. Romney said. “It should come as no surprise that President Obama has received warm words from [Russia’s Vladimir] Putin, [Venezuela’s Hugo] Chavez and [Cuba’s Fidel] Castro. It is no surprise, but it is no honor.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter @washingtontimes.com.

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