Farm Aid smears and a bogus mea culpa

Though the Chicago Tribune was thoughtful enough to post a half-assed semi-apology, semi-retraction about their Farm Aid expose (Watching how money flows), the damage had already been done to the reputation of the organization (by which I mean both Farm Aid AND the Tribune). While the Trib admits that the original story was lacking in some exact semantics about whether Farm Aid was dispensing money properly or not, the article (Farm Aid expenses eat away donations) implied that FA was a corrupt org that fed itself money at the expense of farmers.

Needless to say, organizer Neil Young was pissed about this and rightfully so. The follow-up story notes that although FA doesn’t transfer most of the money it takes in from the annual concert and elsewhere directly to the farmers themselves, FA does lobby and provide other indirect support for the farmers (i.e. suicide hotlines). To their credit, the Trib let Neil defend himself, this incident has had to make FA go on the defensive itself and try to repair its rep.

Note to the Trib: if you want to pass un-necessary blame around about relief efforts, you might want to hire Michael Brown, former head of FEMA. I hear that he’s looking for work now…