Author Topic: Public advocate caught in lie over Times homeless story  (Read 171 times)

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Offline flowers

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Public advocate caught in lie over Times homeless story
« on: January 04, 2014, 03:13:19 PM »

She lied on her first day on the job — and got caught.

Just hours after being sworn in as the city’s public advocate, Letitia James went on TV to claim that she played a key role in helping expose “the face of poverty in the City of New York” on the ‘front page of The New York Times.

James, a former City Council member, said she had appointed a task force to examine conditions at the Auburn homeless shelter in her old Brooklyn district.

When those conditions didn’t improve, James said, she acted to publicize the plight of Dasani Coates, a 12-year-old homeless girl subsequently spotlighted in a lengthy Times series.

“I was aware of it and had a little bit something to do with it,” James insisted on NY1 Wednesday night, speaking of the Times exposé.

“And, in fact, I had established a task force on Auburn, and the conditions continued. And so we decided to work together to basically put on the front page of The New York Times the face of poverty in the City of New York.”

It wasn’t James’ first attempt to portray herself as a champion of the homeless — at the inauguration, she invited young Dasani to stand at her side for the swearing-in.

But the Times refuted James’ account, saying she had nothing to do with its articles.

“Andrea Elliott [the Times reporter] met Dasani in the course of interviewing residents outside the Auburn shelter, and exposed conditions there by following the family. Andrea never talked to Ms. James, nor was she source for the story,” Times assistant managing editor Matt Purdy said in a statement.

After being called out for her lie, James quickly backtracked and changed her story.

“I commend the New York Times for highlighting this important issue on their front page but, to be clear, I was not a source behind The New York Times’ feature on Dasani and did not intend to imply so,” James said in a statement.

James, 51, said she was “proud to be a leader in calling out the challenges of homelessness in general and the Auburn facility in particular,” and maintained that she had “participated in multiple demonstrations outside the facility, along with housing and community advocates.”

James’ embarrassing about-face immediately made her the butt of jokes on Twitter, with salvos exchanged under the hashtag “#ThingsTishTakesCreditFor.”

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