Saturday, November 13, 2010

Whoops! Turns Out Twin In Cute Page-One Story About Tree Sleeping Got Busted On Felony Drug Charges Last Year.

Once again, a NYT reporter has forgotten to Google.

You know Dana and Cory Foht, those cute 25-year-old Florida twins on the front page of today's NYT? The ones who've been sleeping in the trees in Central Park?

Well, that's Cory Foht on the left. It's his mugshot, courtesy of Florida's Collier Country Police Department from July 30, 2009. That's the day he got arrested on four felony counts, including drug posession and resisting arrest.

The charges have since been dropped, and The NYTPicker is currently exploring what may have been the circumstances behind that.

But one thing is clear: NYT reporter Colin Moynihan forgot to Google these Foht fellows before putting them in a story that landed them on the front page of the paper. Yet again, a NYT reporter has forgotten that classic journalism adage: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Cory Foht was arrested on four felony counts: possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana; possession and use of narcotic paraphernalia; destroying, fabricating or tampering with evidence, and resisting arrest without violence.

Translation: stoned, long-haired Florida dude allegedly tries to flush his stash and pipe down the toilet while cops pound on the bathroom door.

Cory's arrest was reported on the Naples News website. Want to see it? Just type the words Cory Foht into Google. It's the first link.

Now, Cory wasn't convicted of anything. That means he's innocent until proven guilty. Court records reveal that the charges were dropped earlier this year, so he's off the hook.

And the worst crime his twin brother Dana ever apparently committed was appearing in this 2005 music video, hitting on a voluptuous girl on a Florida beach and getting royally dissed.

Still -- when you're writing a page-one story about some Florida kids sleeping in Central Park trees, shouldn't you at least look up the guys you're writing about?

Seems to us a previous arrest record might be relevant here, especially since Moynihan's story addresses the fact that technically, it's a crime to sleep in Central Park.

We liked the story, by the way. We think the Fohts are probably great guys and we totally believe them about the YouTube video they're gonna edit together and make and stuff. Like, any day now. Meanwhile, don't bogart that joint.

UPDATE: A number of readers have objected to this item as being excessively nit-picky, basically because Cory Foht wasn't convicted of anything. Why, readers wondered, were we criticizing the NYT for failing to report something irrelevant to the story at hand?

We considered that point carefully before publishing the item. In the end, we decided that because Moynihan's story appeared on the front page -- and because it focused heavily on the criminal aspect of the Fohts' actions -- a previous felony arrest seemed worth knowing about. Employers typically require a job applicant to disclose an arrest record, with or without a conviction; why shouldn't reporters and newspapers care about them?

The inclusion of the arrest history wouldn't have detracted a bit from Moynihan's otherwise entertaining story, or from the Foht twins' reputations as cool tree-dwelling dudes. And it would have sent readers a signal that the NYT checks out the people it puts on page one, especially when they're unknowns. We find it odd that so many commenters are quick to defend the reader's right not to know.

25 comments:

Roberto said...

WE thought the story was ridiculous.

U-Man said...

How do you know the reporter didn't google the guy's name? Maybe he just decided, reasonably, that dismissed drug charges aren't relevant to the story.

Anonymous said...

The reporter mentions that they graduated from some college in Florida. Why is that relevant? When you stick someone on the front page for some goofy stunt, everything is relevant. Also, you wonder how Moynihan found out about these guys. And did he spend a night up in the trees with them?

Stephen Smith said...

This is ridiculous – who cares that the guy was (not) convicted on a minor drug charge? Would it be relevant that he also drank some alcohol three years ago, or does the NYT Picker just get so incensed by marijuana use that it should be singled out for a mention in an otherwise-unrelated story?

...and does it really surprise you that a person who would live in a tree smokes weed?

This is a real stretch, NYT Picker. And the "cute" little drug referenceat the end was both pathetic (oh, look, you know some 50-year-old drug slang!) and sort of offensive to all the people who are languishing in jails for a completely victimless crime.

Anonymous said...

Silly story, but this seems like another instance of hyper-nitpicking by nytpicker. Guys and Gals, you've gotta pick your battles and exercise some judgment, else lose your credibility.

This is not like the NYT story about the homeless compound involving a man who was presented as a sainted figure but who actually was a CONVICTED, repeat, CONVICTED child molester. As I recall, children lived in the compound, although readers were later assured that the guy was never left alone with them.

In that case, the omitted info was relevant.

I seem to remember that was a NYTpicker story.

More of that, please.

Anonymous said...

I understand why you blog anonymously, and occasionally you bring interesting things to light, but you need to make sure that your items pass the ELS* test.

Seriously, consider contacting someone you trust and running a proposed item by him or her first before putting it up.




*Envious Little Snot.

Anonymous said...

Lam-O. With posts like this, it becomes clearer and clearer why this site has to remain anonymous. Some of the posts, like this one, are so uneven.

It's also not really fair to be bringing up an arrest record of questionable relevance while hiding behind a veil that permits NYTPicker writer(s) to presumably continue on whatever career trajectory he/she/they are on (and from the rumors as to the origins of this site, that trajectory may, indeed, be downward).

THE NYTPICKER said...

A number of readers have objected to this item as being excessively nit-picky, basically because Cory Foht wasn't convicted of anything. Why, readers wonder, were we criticizing the NYT for failing to report something irrelevant to the story at hand?

We considered that point carefully before publishing the item. In the end, we decided that because Moynihan's story appeared on the front page -- and because it focused heavily on the criminal aspect of the Fohts' actions -- a previous felony arrest seemed worth knowing about. Employers typically require a job applicant to disclose an arrest record, with or without a conviction; why shouldn't reporters and newspapers care about them?

The inclusion of the arrest history wouldn't have detracted a bit from Moynihan's entertaining story, or from the Foht twins' reputations as cool tree-dwelling dudes. And it would have sent readers a signal that the NYT checks out the people it puts on page one, especially when they're unknowns. We find it odd that so many commenters here are so quick to defend the reader's right not to know.

Anonymous said...

Its not a popular position around here but I'm going to defend nytpicker. Not necessarily for this item, which isn't my favorite. But I think its strange that readers of this blog often seem to dump on it, like they want it to go away.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but the explanation doesn't really work either. I'm surprised to learn that only people without arrest records are allowed on the front page, as if that was an indicator of social importance. Even freakish men who get high and climb trees can be stories without. They're not elected officials and certainly not to be taken as leaders of society.

Strange that some readers think that NYTPicker should be able to dish without being held to any scrutiny whatsoever. If this was a real watchdog group, I think we'd see greater evaluation (and probably an editorial check-n-balance on writerly power here).

Anonymous said...

Employers typically require a job applicant to disclose an arrest record, with or without a conviction; why shouldn't reporters and newspapers care about them?

Uh, guys, you need to check your facts on this. Employers can't ask about arrests except in very specific circumstances.

Anonymous said...

While I can see how a reporter might want to describe the arrest history, it just doesn't seem important to the story. I agree this is much too picky.

Michael Powell said...

Dude

If you read an article about two dudes who live in a tree in Central Park, you probably assume they have not spent the previous six years mastering tort law at Vanderbilt. A little weed makes the branch just a bit softer, no doubt
More to the point, in this country, if the charges are dropped, you're innocent. Period. Not until proven otherwise. The fact that some cop decided to load up a (probably inane) felony charge for say pot paraphenalia, means precisely nothing, as, like, again, it was dropped.
Lighten up, toad stool.

Anonymous said...

Is that New York Times reporter Michael Powell?

Anonymous said...

Yes. He posts a lot of negative comments on this site.

MIchael Powell said...

I respond with my name. That's all that separates me from 99 percent of the posters on this site. You'd have an awful hard time arguing that I'm a dark shadow in a the ray of optimistic sunshine that is this blog.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Powell, can you please explain why you continue to return to read this blog, since you so obviously don't like it?

Anonymous said...

The blog sometimes raises fair and provocative points, as in fact I've noted. And the blog sometimes is wrongheaded and meanspirited. As it is written about the place I work, and about my profession, it's important sometimes to offer a countervailing view, no?

Anonymous said...

To safeguard democratic government by constitution, this article, regardless of its discrepencies, is adduced as a reminder of the nightmare that awaits those who find their compensation serving the bogeyman.

Anonymous said...

i agree with powell that this blog is often wrongheaded. this post probably shouldn't have been put up. but i disagree about it being meanspirited. one of the best things about nytpick is that it isn't personally mean and focuses only on the articles, which is why i come back.

Anonymous said...

Know what? If Michael Powell has the backbone to put his name to his posts, I say good on him. Far too many New York Times staff never respond to critics.

As for the anonymice. I occasionally respond, but remain anonymous when I do because every single thing I ever put online with my name on it that isn't totally bland, non-offensive, etc., will later be held against me by HR managers and milquetoast middle management. "Oh, we'd like to hire him, but back in 2008, he wrote an e-mail with a heavens-to-goodness swearword in it."

Powell's already gotten to the top. But unlike a lot of those on the top, he's willing to use the freedom that gives him.

richard foht said...

Cory and Dana are two of the finest human beings presently honoring your great city with their presence.
You would do well to meet them and interview them before so cavalierly dismissing them as you have done. They both are honor grads of FGCU with degrees in environmental siences. I am probably responsible for the path they are taking when I insisted they read Daniel Quinns' "Ishmael".
Read it - it's a real eye-opener. I would describe them as current day Henry David Thoreaus and heaven knows there just aren't enough of those around these days. Give them a call. I'm sure they would like to talk to you about what they are doing. Well take care and keep up the good work. Heaven knows we need more of what you do being done to clear the fog of what we are being force fed day to day.
their father

Ken Cady said...

That ol' "innocent until proven guilty" thing doesn't seem to carry much weight here. I wonder what it means, anyway...

Anonymous said...

Most employers do not ask you to list an arrest, whether or not it led to a conviction. Some--maybe most?--job applications ask if you have been convicted of a crime. Bad reporting NYT Picker!

Bill Toscano said...

Every job application I have ever filled out asks "Have you ever been *convicted* of a felony.

I think it's illegal to ask about arrests and certainly illegal to use that information in the hiring process.

I do agree with the googling though.