Looking for news on the Obama administration these days? Look anywhere but the mainstream media, including the pages of the New York Times. One may have thought it impossible for the nation's largest and most influential newspaper to virtually ignore the scandals involving the left-wing housing activist group The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, more notoriously known as ACORN. One would be wrong. A brief rundown of ACORN's scroll of shame: A hidden camera sting, set up by conservative activist James O'Keefe of the website Big Government, showed ACORN workers in three separate offices (Baltimore, Washington, and the Times backyard of Brooklyn) giving out tax advice on child prostitution and human trafficking. Then the Census Bureau dropped its partnership agreement with ACORN for the 2010 collection effort. Finally, and most noteworthy from a national perspective, the U.S. Senate voted 83-7 to deny the group access to federal housing funds. Yet finding Times coverage of the controversies is like, well, finding an individual acorn in a forest. The Saturday Times made do with a brief Associated Press story on the Census effort, buried in the very middle of page A12: "Census Bureau Drops Acorn From 2010 Effort." James Taranto noted at Opinion Journal that the dispatch made no mention of the hidden-camera sting -- the Times cut that part out of the original AP filing. After a prominent post on Monday evening's Drudge Report marked the U.S. Senate voting in bipartisan fashion 83-7 to deny the group access to federal housing funds, the Times covered it -- barely. A Monday evening posting by Bernie Becker on the paper's "Caucus" blog also devoted a couple of whitewashed sentences to the sting, leaving out the child prostitution angle entirely. (The commenters to the story are not impressed with the Times's journalistic thoroughness.)
The Senate voted on Monday to forbid Acorn, the antipoverty group frequently criticized by conservatives, from receiving federal housing grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The vote is the latest jolt of bad news for the group, formally known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The Census Bureau told Acorn last week that it no longer wanted the group's assistance for the 2010 census, while a hidden camera recently caught Acorn employees giving tax advice to people who said they wanted to run a brothel....More recently, Acorn employees in Washington, Baltimore and Brooklyn were caught on tape giving tax pointers and other advice to conservatives posing as a pimps and prostitutes.
ACORN didn't make the Tuesday print edition at all -- not exactly great incentive for any future reporter tempted to cover a liberal scandal. After showing how the Times and other media outlets have virtually ignored scandals driven by conservative advocacy media folks, involving ACORN, the Van Jones controversy, and the politicization of the National Endowment for the Arts, Taranto at Opinion Journal concluded:
To be sure, Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart are advocacy journalists with distinct points of view. But the supposedly impartial mainstream media also claim to have an "adversary" relationship with the government. That they have left this field to a few upstarts suggests that they have a point of view, too -- one that is, in the age of Obama, far more compliant than adversarial.
Acorn has emerged in recent years as the largest neighborhood-based antipoverty group in the country, using old-fashioned methods of door-knocking and noisy protests to push for local and national causes....The expansion of Acorn, whose formal name is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is part of a broader surge in populist organizing around the country centered on issues like housing, wages, gentrification, environmental disputes and immigrant rights.
That affection spills over into the news coverage. During the 2008 presidential campaign, the Times protected ACORN against accusations about illegal collusion between it and the Obama campaign. A February 18, 2009 Metro section story portrayed ACORN as a bottom-up citizens group conducting a new civil rights "resistance movement" against unfair foreclosures, with no ideological labels. And in March, a "bus tour" protest of the homes of AIG executives in Connecticut led by an ACORN front group (a fact not mentioned in the Times) garnered a full story in the paper, although it numbered a grand total of 40 people.