AP Story On ACORN Sting Video Firings Contains De Facto Commercial (Update: There's a Sting II)

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Thursday night, the Associated Press reported on the Baltimore ACORN sting carried out by James O'Keefe of Andrew Breitbart's new BigGovernment.com web site. A paragraph near the end of the report is virtually a de facto commercial for the controversial group.

As to the sting itself, in case you missed it -- in two devastating videos originally posted here that you must see, O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute who, as summarized in original Fox News coverage, told officials at ACORN's Baltimore office that they "wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business."

ACORN said Thursday that it has fired the two employees who are seen on tape telling O'Keefe and Giles the following, among a host of sickening howlers:

  • That the prostitute could list her occupation on tax forms as "freelance performing artist"
  • That three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes could be claimed as dependents (you see, trying to claim 13 dependents would "raise too many red flags").
  • That the prostitute should also call the girls claimed as dependents "relatives," and also claim child tax credits for them.
  • To stop using the word "prostitution," and among 12 street-smart rules, train the underage girls to "keep their mouths shut."

Here's how AP covered the fallout from that story Thursday evening (saved here in full for fair use and discussion purposes):

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The first sentence in the red-boxed paragraph is a blatant, one-sided commercial. AP doesn't tell us that ACORN "says" it advocates for poor people; no-no-no, it acts as if that's an established fact. The second sentence is an attempt to downplay known facts about the group's widespread association with voter fraud. Concerns about ACORN not only coming from "conservatives," but libertarians, liberals with a sense of fair play, and most importantly from county boards of elections, which ordinarily have equal representations of Democrats (not all of whom are liberal) and Republicans (not all of whom are conservative).

The ACORN link AP provides is to the group's main home page, not ACORN Baltimore.

In an unexcerpted paragraph, the wire service labels O'Keefe a "conservative activist." His views may or may not be conservative, but O'Keefe calls himself an "activist filmmaker." By contrast, readers here will be totally not shocked to learn that in a roughly 550-word September 6 AP story about Michael Moore and his latest release ("Capitalism: A Love Story"), the wire service's Colleen Barry never hangs any kind of judgmental label on Moore -- not "liberal," "leftist," or even "activist."

If you're thinking that the AP is upset that ACORN got nailed, would rather not have to tell us what has happened, is bound and determined to salvage whatever shred of credibility it can for the outlaw group, and wants to minimize the negative fallout in reports its subscribers use, I would suggest that you're in the right neighborhood.

AP didn't handle ACORN's Friday firing by the Census Bureau any better. I will address that story shortly.

UPDATE: Sting II -- The AP report includes a claim by ACORN's Margaret Williams that "undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices." Clever wording: She's not saying that O'Keefe and Giles were the attempters in the other instances. The fact is, as revealed Friday, O'Keefe and Giles "attempted" to pull off their idea at the DC ACORN office. Oops, they "succeeded" again, and it's also on video.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.