Open Letter To Channel 11 After Oorah Smear-Campaign Goes Bad

(Friday, February 15th, 2008)

oorah.jpgBelow is a letter from a YWN reader (Charles Weiss) which was written in disgust to Channel 11 in NYC – after they attempted to “find dirt” on the Oorah organization – in their “fact-finding” show.

Dear sirs,

I was sent an email today with a link to a recent negative expose Channel 11 (WPIX CH11) attempted on  Oorah’s Kars for Kids program. [Click HERE for link to video]
 
I use the word attempt because the heavy handed manner in which reporter Mary Murphy conducted herself was typical of the “take no prisoners” approach today’s media has succumbed to. Nowhere in the report was Oorah actually accused of any wrongdoing or crime, yet the tone and “attempt” to smear was palpable.  Sensationalism in lieu of  authentic journalism demeans your program. Once a promising journalist, Ms. Murphy’s integrity is now suspect. Oorah’s social programs have an honorable reputation in the charitable community and even your transparent hatchet job eventually corroborates that. So why the exercise? Whose agenda is being satisfied?

Expose’s in general  have a dismal track record of being just short of libelous and yours will shamefully join their brethren in the trash heap of history soon forgotten.
As for Ms. Murphy, I doubt a Pulitzer is in her future.

While this style of yellow journalism may provide a fleeting boost in ratings, it is simply reprehensible to ambush in hopes of tripping up the unsuspecting.  Ms. Murphy self righteously condemns the necessity of a lawyer while inexplicably informing us that Oorah’s legal council was gladly willing to answer any and all questions, albeit on a fair playing field-off camera. Indeed, it is  perfectly appropriate to have a PR department or lawyer answer inquiries from media outlets. I have no doubt that CW11 has an entire department dedicated to this purpose. Prosecutorial reporters who stealthily arrive with cameras rolling deserve no cooperation.

Due to the lack of any scandalous wrongdoing, your unscrupulous reporter committed a  cardinal sin and became the story.  While half truths and fabrication viciously rule today’s blogosphere, the intelligent public should emphatically reject this type of negative tabloid innuendo-if only they had common sense. Educated observers will see this drivel for what it is and click elsewhere for their future information. Edward R. Morrow would be ashamed of you and so am I.

Charles Weiss
Brooklyn NY


28 Comments

  1. lgbg says:

    oh my wow how the press can turn around what happened. i personally know the guy who was “blocking” the car! this video is really twisted to the real story! i heard the real the real story from this guys wife!
    oorah is actually having a shabboton this shabbos for the the oorahs family

  2. art says:

    Noone misrepresented anything. If it’s important to you, you check, That’s what I do before going to a thrift shop. Oorah provides loads of assistance and social services.

    The only misrepresntation here is Channel 11′s misrepresenting that there’s some scandal.

  3. BuzBuz says:

    It’s nothing new. The media will do anything for ratings. It’s not for nothing that CW11 in NYC has “dance Friday” where they have one of their better looking reporters dance for their viewers. What does dancing have to do with the news ? As frum yidden we know that not everything is about the dollar (at least so I hope. I am in direct competition for some of Oohra’s services and I refuse to take any of their customers because it goes to Tzedakah).

  4. iib001 says:

    The Office manager’s behavior was somewhat suspicious but I also admit nothing wrong was proven in the news report concerning the charity work.

  5. nucha_deah says:

    Nu so some guy get shown being nasty to a goyish reporter and instead of seeing our actions as they are perceived by others we blame the messenger. I don’t see what was wrong with news report. It seems pretty straightforward and true. Most of Oorah’s car donors don’t know what they are donating to. Althoug it is always smart to deferr comments to your lawyer , we really do have nothing to hide so why chepper the reporters.

  6. A REALLY PROUD JEW says:

    Although the report was bias, why did Oorah need to give them ammunition and behave so unprofessional?
    Why did the office manager need to be so rude? why did they block her car on camera looking very bad?…

  7. deepthinker says:

    The Irish reporter resented the fact that OORAH was raising funds from Goyim, using the neutral name KARS-4-KIDS.

    She felt that Goyim should give to the church, not a Jewish charity.

  8. brit says:

    Smear campaign??? c’mon, They are a goyish organization!
    The IRS demands of anyone it give 501(C)3 status that it has proper governance and TRANSPARANCY!! two words that “yeshivish” organizations refuse to recognize
    Yes, transparancy demands that if ANYONE walks into an organizations office and asks to understand what the organization does they have a right, they can legally demand to see the 990 and other documents. but our fear of government and media (and probably rightfully so) has clouded our judgement.
    Yes, nothing good can come out of any goy or goyish organization looking into any jewish organization but THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TOO and to call the POLICe??? ok so they panicked
    The station was only wrong that they tried to go into the call center and think they could get answer but one of the rabbi mintz’s should have met with them and answered some tough questions
    and they wouldv’e come out looking like roses

    If the only thing that comes out of this, is that we, who run mosdos in the USA and operate under IRS code 501(c)3 and applicable state law, understand that we are required to prove transparency and proper governance and get educated on how to answer the goyim when they come calling (not if, when) we all will gain…..

  9. brit says:

    PS. i thought the reporter went out of her way at the end to credit OOrah for their good work and detailed it at the end, we should send her a catalogue

  10. lkwdfellow says:

    Oraah didn’t deserve this type of treatment & hopefully channel 11 will apologize. They do wonderful things & should not be subjected to this crazy reporting!

  11. pinay says:

    If Oorah is minimizing it’s Jewish links in order to solicit money from goyim, I believe that constitutes a chillul hashem. In hilchos tzedakah siman 254 the mechaber states openly “it is prohibitted to take money from aku”m…” the ta”z says because it is a chillel hashem. Kiruv Rechokim is the responsibility of klal yisrael. We should be supporting it as our zchus and not tricking others into contributing and minimizing our zchus.

  12. charlie brown says:

    brit(10),
    They are transparent. Their 990 is openly available, and a quick view of it is shown on the channel 11 video. check it out on the j.o.y. website at

    http://www.givejoy.org/image-100.html

    I don’t see why transparency should mean that they must allow a reporter and camera crew to barge into their offices without an appointment and disrupt their operations.

  13. broadway jack says:

    Let me start off by saying that I work for the IRS.

    In short, Kars 4 Kids does not need to write anywhere on their website that the money goes for Jews (which by the way is not true, because they give money to help non-Jews as well).

    Does the Salvation Army write that their money goes to Cristian Missionaries? I’ll leave that up to the readers to find out.

    Once you are looking for info on the Internet, you will see other “Car donation” organizations. Most of them do not say where the money goes, and many are for Christian organizations.

    The law does not require them to state that.

    You might also be interested in knowing that the reporter was in contact with Oorah’s attorney, and then she refused to return the phone calls to him. Channel 11 also took out like 90% of their original report since they Oorah threatened to sue them (and Oorah would have won with flying colors).

    You might also be interested to know that Channel 11 trespassed on private property. They simply drove into a private property, and walked into an office filming. When asked to leave, they ignored the request and kept asking questions.

    Oorah did the right thing. They told Ms. Murphy to speak to their attorney. If I was the boss at Oorah, I would be proud of that lady who told them to go fly a kite.

    How can she possibly give answers? She is in charge of telephone operators!

    That’s like sending a camera crew over to Channel 11 while they are filming a fire, and ask the reporter how much taxes Channel 11 pays etc etc.

    They are very lucky that they did not get sued by Oorah since they would have lost big time. As a matter of fact, Channel 11′s lawyers forced the reporters to delete 90% of the film in fear of getting sued.

    Let the real story be known!

    There is more, but time is short.

  14. yochi says:

    #17 Regardless of who is actually right…
    The manager, the car blocker, the womean in Brooklyn intrerviewd all looked bad. It looks suspicious. Treating the reporter nicer would have gotten them a lot further then being right and acting nasty.

  15. LBK says:

    Does transparancy require an organization to allow anyone in at any time? Doesn’t it just mean they have to publicize a time and place that the books and records are available for public viewing?

  16. brit says:

    Good point Jack, as a matter of fact lotsa good points. The woman in charge shouldn;t have been asked anything.
    Yes, the Irs doesnt require you to write much on the website at all but someone who enquires about an organization is entitled to answers
    Charlie Brown, transparency STARTS with the 990 that one of the things required by IRS to be publicly posted. Maybe Broadway Jack can enlighten us with a shiur on the two recent discussions by IRS Commisioner Miller

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/stm_speech_–_philantoropy_roundtablestm1107.pdf

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/stm_isector_10_22_07.pdf

    The 1023 application and allthe stuff with it is supposed to be public info too why dont you post that.

  17. charlie brown says:

    yochi (18),
    they wanted it to look suspicious. Instead of finding an existing issue and reporting on it, they CREATE issues to report to drive up their ratings. The reporter wasn’t looking for answers – for that she would have spoken to Oorah’s lawyer. She was looking to create a suspicious image.

    If someone barged into your office with a camera and started asking questions of people who are not able to answer them, are you sure you would react differently?

  18. charlie brown says:

    brit (20),
    I don’t have anything to so with oorah and I have no clue what a 1023 is. I was just responding to your complaint that the 990 should be disclosed publicly and I looked on their website and found it with ease.

    and you’re right that someone who asks questions is entitled to answers, but the way to get those answers is by calling and asking to speak to whoever it is that can give those answers, not by barging in with a camera and asking the first person you see. If the reporter had done that I’m sure she would have gotten answers. The fact that she didn’t do that shows that she wasn’t looking for answers but was looking to make a scene and drive up her ratings.

  19. azhei... says:

    The reporter is slime, but OORAH, please note: if you act like youhave something to hide, then people will assume you are indeed hiding something.
    OTOH, be open and act like you are proud of the work you are doing, then you will not be accused.
    When the reporter asked why you feel you can’t let the reporter in, you should have asked her why she as an investigative journalist feels like she needs to investigate OORAH and what misrepresentation she is looking for.

  20. FillyFrum says:

    The reporter was embarrassed by Oorah when they did not let her in. She made sure to get them back and good by making it seem like they were doing something wrong when they were not. Wow she really got the children of oorah but good! People should let the station know that the only people she hurt are the children all b/c she had a major inferiority complex.

  21. Longbeach says:

    After seeing the video, I believe what Oorah needs is a polished spokesperson who is authorized to state the organization’s position and knows how to deal with the media. At the end, the information they got from the attorney seemed satisfactory, but a spokesperson could’ve provided the answers to the reporter making the whole report in essence unworthy of being broadcast.

  22. yeapb says:

    You can’t have a spokesperson available all day on the offchance that someone might walk in!! That brings you right back to the original scenario – please speak to our official spokesperson (instead of lawyer). That gets you nowhere. The reporter could have been told – sorry, this is only a call centre we don’t do the managing, please speak to our lawyer.

  23. doom777 says:

    “Second, the rude behavior was a chilul hashem.”

    No, it was not. It was a natural reaction to a group of people who are obviously out to look for dirt. “Talk to the lawyer” is the proper response.

    Nor is it automatic chillul hashem to hurt some goya’s feelings. It probably hurts the feelings of catholics that I wont cross myself to their churches also, but that is not a chillul hashem. THe chillul hashem was in the fact that these goyim were looking for dirt on oorah.

  24. mark levin says:

    Anyone who knows anything about this organization as I do, knows that the money is going to the right places. Oorah was listed as one of the few of these “car donation charities” who actually gave out over 95% of their donations!

    Edited by Moderation Panel.

  25. CoffeeKup says:

    Pashute Yid,

    You say “Anything that has even a cheshash of a cheshash of a problem is not for a yid.”, granted.

    But then in the same breath you advocate “kosher” colledges.

    …my your funny…perhaps your title is more likely “Pashute Head”.

  26. CoffeeKup says:

    To #31,

    My friend, while I will decidely not mix in to your dissertation, its relevance to my original point is limited. In addition, your basic assumption that Bittul Torah is the main problem here is IMHO misguided. All I am doing is calling a spade a spade with regard to “kosher” colleges.

    Make no mistake about it, I am no fan of shady business, for the very same reason as you. I have, and undoubtedly you as well, have seen this coming for years. An with regard to this story, I believe I am in your court.

    Respectfully,

    CoffeeKup

  27. matzahlocaol101 says:

    A charitable organization is still private property and anyone that does not belong their can be charged with trespassing. The “in your face” effort may have been justified if they asked for a meeting and were refused. just to barge into a PRIVATE office, they don’t deserve answers and speak to our attorneys is the proper response.

    The 990s are matter of public record. Some websites post their own 990s or you can find them on guide star, etc. You can also request them from the IRS or the organization itself. I believe they have 30 days to respond to your request. I did that and found out PETA channels 90% of it’s “grants” to a shadow organization called “The Foundation to Support Animal Presentation” (FSAP) with the same address, phone number, and board members as PETA. That’s right. If you are an animal right wacko, PETA, in addition to killing about 2000 animals a year in their Norfolk headquarters, syphons off about 20% of their gross earnings, calls it grants, it never leaves the building, and they save it for a rainy day while not caring for one single animal that is brought to their headquarters.
    (That’s $37 Million out of $188 Million from 1998 to 2006.)

    I would post the links but YWN never prints my links.

    PETA
    Foundation to support animal protection

    Edited by Site Moderation Panel.

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