All three morning shows on Wednesday highlighted the revelation that a conservative activist had been arrested in connection to an attempt to tamper with the phones of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Despite jumping on the "Louisiana Watergate" story only 17 hours after it was first reported, the networks took five days to file full reports on the same James O’Keefe and his undercover footage exposing corruption at ACORN.
On ABC’s Good Morning America, reporter Pierre Thomas recounted O’Keefe’s previous expose, charitably describing ACORN as "an advocacy group which helps the poor." On NBC’s Today, Pete Williams found sinister motives in right-wing outrage at the organization. He sneered, "Because ACORN helped register thousands of low income voters, Republicans pounced." (Could the illegal activities and voter fraud associated with the group have been another reason for GOP attacks?)
Yesterday, Media Research Center (MRC) President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell sat down in the MRC studio for a Skype interview with Breitbart.tv's "B-cast." [see video embed below the page break]
The topic: the latest MRC special report, "Omitting for Obama," which is a study of four stories --- Van Jones, Anita Dunn, ACORN, and ClimateGate -- "highlighted by the New Media in 2009 that were damaging to the Obama 'brand'" but were avoided like the plague by the old guard mainstream media.
Managing Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of Michael Moriarty's original December 14 post to Big Hollywood. Moriarty, you may recall, played a prosecutor in the first few seasons of the long-running NBC drama "Law and Order."
Well, I think I’ve been fairly calm and forgiving of "Law and Order" for about fifteen years. Living outside of the U.S. has certainly helped in more ways than one. Out of sight, out of mind. "Law and Order" has, for years, been just a press of the remote away from non-existence.
However, recent events have "Law and Order" just begging for my reassessment. I hardly expected my old television series to be the clown act that leads the American viewing audience into an increasingly predictable pile of hard left propaganda.
The seemingly creepy fixation some MSNBC on-air personalities have with Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann just continues to persist on the cable network.
The latest installment involves MSNBC's "Ed Show" host Ed Schultz relying on a left-wing publication, The Minnesota Independent, which found a high rate of foreclosures relative in Bachmann's district relative to the rest of the state of Minnesota. Schultz, on his Dec. 2 program, contended Bachmann was spending too much time as a conservative activist and not enough time focusing on the problems of her district. But it turns out the data might not be at all accurate.
"One last page in my playbook tonight," Schultz said. "It looks like Minnesota congresswoman and ‘Psycho Talk' regular Michele Bachmann needs to spend a little bit more time riling up the right-wing nut job partiers out there and focus on her own back yard."
The scandal surrounding the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has provided a number of case studies in liberal media bias. The initial silence of the vast majority of media outlets on the story, the attempts by leftist commentators to excuse ACORN and discredit the group's critics, and Andrew Breitbart's strategy of rolling out video exposes periodically to counter those commentators, all speak to the liberal media paradigm, and activists' efforts to combat it.
Breitbart and his filmmaking proteges James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles have released another video showing an ACORN employee volunteering her help in establishing an underage prostitution business. This employee, Lavelle Stewart, had been trumpeted by liberal pundits as a shining example of ACORN's refusal to aid in criminal deeds. Stewart, they claimed, had refused to help Giles and O'Keefe as many other employees had.
But the new videos (Part 1 video embedded below the fold) tell a different story. "There are ways, people do it all the time," Stewart told O'Keefe when asked if he could launder prostitution money into his congressional campaign. "Yeah there are ways, especially out here in California," she added. Stewart, who works in an ACORN office in Los Angeles, was the latest staffer of the organization to volunteer her services in smuggling underage girls into the country, setting up a prostitution ring with those girls, and laundering the proceeds into a political campaign.
Members of the self-proclaimed fastest-growing union in North America have started fights at town hall meetings, share office space with ACORN and spent over $60 million to elect President Barack Obama.
The left-wing, 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its president, Andy Stern, spent much of 2009 campaigning for health care reform that would include a government-run insurance plan, and for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would make it easier to unionize. Critics of EFCA say it would result in worker intimidation (not something that would bother SEIU, if its recent history is any guide).
Well-connected, Stern was the most frequent White House visitor in the first six months of Obama's presidency.
But ABC, NBC and CBS haven't reported any of those things. In fact, a search of Nexis transcripts for all of 2009 only turned up one story mentioning either SEIU or Andy Stern. That was an Aug. 20 story from Jake Tapper of ABC which identified Stern as "a close ally of the President's and the leader of a major union."
On his Nov. 16 program, Beck responded to the "South Park" interpretation of him - that he wasn't making accusations, but phrasing them in the form of a question. The show's character Eric Cartman played a spoof of Beck in which he railed against his school's president, Wendy Testaburger. Beck maintained he wasn't making the "accusations" in the form of a question - but playing the words of the "accused" themselves.
"Have we gotten to a place you can't ask questions?" Beck asked. "What were my crazy accusations or questions? Well, the accusation was that Van Jones was a communist revolutionary," Beck said. "I didn't describe him that way. In his own words he described himself that way. He was a 9/11 Truther. He was forced to step down. Was it that the administration was using NEA as a propaganda arm for the administration? That was a question. We played tapes of the call with Yosi Sargent and Yosi Sargent had to step down."
Did you know that activist filmmaker James O'Keefe and partner Hannah Giles made only one undercover video showing ACORN employees willing to assist them in illegal and human rights-violating activities?
Absent prior knowledge, that's the impression you would have upon reading the Associated Press's coverage of the latest development in the ACORN saga, namely the raid on the organization's New Orleans office by Louisiana state investigators.
AP writer Cain Burdeau only mentions O'Keefe's and Giles's videotaping efforts in Baltimore. The fact is that the pair have thus far presented the results of their efforts in five other locations, and may have more episodes in inventory for other opportune times.
Nearly everyone now knows of the reform whirlwind kicked up by the Dynamic Duo of Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe - with a big follow-up assist from BigGovernment.com impresario Andrew Breitbart.
Unless of course you rely solely on the Jurassic Press - the traditional media - for your information. If so, you may to this day remain blissfully ignorant - of this and a whole host of other important stories.
In each instance, the two spun continually wilder tales of home purchase for use as a brothel, not just for Giles but for a group of underage Central American girls the two intended to illegally smuggle into the country.
In every instance, ACORN officials were more than happy to assist with every aspect of their illegal and immoral endeavors, often in creatively evasive ways.
It's a variation on the old riddle, "What's black and white, but read all over?"
If you change one word and add two others, the answer to the resulting question -- "What's still mostly black and white, but red all over?" -- would be, based on just-released information about their daily circulation, "all but one of the nation's top 25 newspapers turning in comparative numbers."
Here are a few paragraphs from Michael Liedtke's coverage of the carnage at the Associated Press, which depends largely on newspaper subscription fees for its lifeblood. Note the "so far" reference in Liedtke's third paragraph:
Either LA Times op-ed writer Peter Dreier lives in a cave, or he's all too willing to spread falsehoods to defend an organization where he once served as a consultant. Perhaps it's a little of both.
In that Thursday op-ed ("The war on ACORN; Conservatives are distorting and playing up the community organizing group's so-called scandals"), Dreier parroted ACORN CEO's now-discredited claims that "not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted," and that undercover filmmakers James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were only able to get help from two ACORN offices in starting up their proposed prostitution enterprises involving the importation of immigrant girls.
In running Dreier's op-ed, the Times miscalculated at least twice:
First, the paper failed to disclose Dreier's past relationship with ACORN as a consultant, something that is right there in his Occidental College bio, and that readers had a right to know.
Second, the Times somehow thought Dreier's propaganda would get past LA blogger and certified Times nemesis Patterico aka Patrick Frey. That was the far more serious blunder.
That video totally nuked claims by ACORN National and ACORN Philly that O'Keefe and Giles had been "shown the door" and "kicked out" after a "few minutes" in their Philly Office visit -- claims that establishment media outlets continued to repeat even, as shown in the excerpt that follows, after ACORN was proven to have lied about what happened in New York City and San Diego.
Billy Hallowell at BigGovernment.com has a great recap of the not well-known ACORN and media goofs that have occurred since James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released their first two sting videos (links are in original):
The mainstream media were complicit in their coverage of the ACORN scandal. Their behavior was and continues to be an insult to democracy and journalistic responsibility as the Fourth Estate has ignored facts, engaged in one-sided sourcing, and avoided basic and inherently important journalistic questioning.
Just when you thought that activist filmmaker James O'Keefe, partner Hannah Giles, and Andrew Breitbart at BigGovernment.com had run out of ammo to direct at ACORN, they have outdone themselves.
In September, BigGov aired videos showing O'Keefe and Giles, posing as a pimp and prostitute, asking for and getting cordial help in setting up their enterprise as a deliberately income-underrporting cash enterprise from ACORN representatives in Baltimore, Washington, New York City, San Bernardino, and San Diego. This help was provided even after Giles revealed her purported plans to import underage girls as part of the enterprise.
For a month, it has supposedly been the settled truth that a similar attempt by O'Keefe and Giles in Philadelphia had failed miserably, and that the pair were "thrown out" of ACORN's office there. ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said so on CNN. The Philadelphia Daily News's David Gambacorta reported that "they were apparently shown the door." Others playing or parroting ACORN's assertions included the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, NPR, and the New York Times.
The press should have suspected that another shoe might drop in Philly, as ACORN made similar assertions about the pair's visits in New York and San Diego after the Baltimore and Washington vids premiered that were quickly proven utterly false. But if there was any skepticism, it was well-hidden.
Now O'Keefe's and Giles's latest video (direct YouTube here) blows ACORN's Philadelphia story to smithereens. Here's what the Associated Press had to say about it this evening:
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Andrew Breitbart, founder of such center-right online powerhouses as Big Government and Big Hollywood, blasted what he dubs the "Democrat-media complex." He spoke of his most recent exposes on the administration's political malfeasance and the mainstream media's refusal to cover those scandals.
Breitbart rocketed into the national spotlight with his work with James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, the young conservatives responsible for the ground-breaking ACORN sting operations that led to congressional votes to de-fund the community organizing group.
"I had a 20-year-old and a 25-year-old and my integrity on the line if we were going to launch this," Mr. Breitbart says. "It was so obvious that the mainstream media, given this information, would not cover it and would, in effect, attempt to cover it up." So he devised an intricate strategy of rolling out the videos one at a time, anticipating Acorn's defenses and rebutting each in turn with the next video...
Although large majorities of House and Senate Democrats have voted to cut off funding for ACORN, this rebuke could be reversed as soon as November 1st.
This is a point that has been overlooked in press coverage of the besieged left-leaning community action group. Moreover, even if ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) does lose out on public funding it continues to receive support from foundations, corporations and individual donors, including George Soros.
Despite the scope and magnitude of ongoing scandals that have ensnared ACORN officials, there remains a certain slyness to the news coverage in that the focus is on "conservative firestorms" and "McCarthyite tactics" , as opposed to potential felonies that have been captured on tape, to say nothing of voter fraud registration allegations and financial misappropriation.
Only four Democrats joined with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in opposing legislation that would allow organizations with a criminal history to receive federal funding back in April.
If there was any question which side of the ideological blogosphere a lot of the inside-the-beltway media establishment go to regularly, Politico may have just cleared that up.
In an Oct. 11 Politico story headlined "Think Progress makes its mark," which was the top story on its Web site that evening, Daniel Libit paid reverence to the left-wing Center for American Progress' Think Progress blog.
"Can a liberal blog launched in the midst of the Bush era - a blog that once obsessed over Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and the outing of Valerie Plame - still make its mark in the age of Obama?" Libit wrote. "In the case of Think Progress, the answer so far is yes."
And, on Fox News Channel's Oct. 5 "Glenn Beck" program, Beck addressed that and some of the gripes he had about the media for not doing their job.
"I tell you all the time, I'm not a journalist," Beck said "I'm not. I joked that I'm a rodeo clown, but you know what - I take that back. I no longer am a rodeo clown. I am a dad, and quite frankly, I'm a little pissed off right now. You can call me names. You can make fun of me, whatever. I'm doing what I believe is right. I am doing a job as a private citizen right now."
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on this morning's edition of "Fox & Friends" to discuss how the mainstream media is downplaying or ignoring ACORN's history of legal trouble over voter fraud, all while casting the liberal community organizer as the victim of conservatives and Republicans.
Fox News anchor Steve Doocy had Mr. Bozell explain the inaccuracies in a September 23 USA Today article.
You can watch the video by clicking the play button in the embed at the right. A transcript appears below the page break:
In a great NewsBusters post early this morning, Rusty Weiss wondered how much local media coverage there has been of ACORN's suspension of services, and focused on potential vote fraud in Albany and Troy, New York.
Here's a question local reporters looking for an angle should be asking, even in the somewhat unlikely event they can't find anything corrupt or criminal at the ACORN office in their town: How effective is the organization's outreach?
Based on what little I've learned, a more legitimate question might be, "Is ACORN's so-called outreach really just a facade to conceal other not well-known activities it really considers more important"?
The issue first occurred to me when I read a September 18 report by WCPO in Cincinnati (WCPO apparently stands for "We Constantly Promote Obama") about the office's decision to suspend services (bolds are mine):
Appearing on the September 28 "Fox & Friends," Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher mocked the New York Times's admission that it was "slow off the mark" in reporting on the recent ACORN prostitution sting video scandal (audio available here):
It's just like [ABC's] Charlie Gibson days after the fact saying in an interview that he has no idea what ACORN is all about, that he was out yachting. These people just don't get it. When we say that they live in their little world somewhere between the corridors of Washington, D.C., and New York City, it's true.... When they see the real world, they see it through the lens of those right-wing zealots up to no good on Fox television.
"Fox & Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Bozell how the Times, which most certainly monitors cable news networks for breaking news, "how could they not be aware of those undercover videos?" Bozell answered:
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt's latest column tackles the ACORN scandal -- or as Times readers know it: "What ACORN scandal?"
In "Tuning In Too Late," Hoyt criticized the Times for its lack of coverage of the juicy ACORN imbroglio, an omission that has prodded the paper into creating a new semi-position. It's assigned an editor to monitor opinion media and catch stories like this earlier (apparently not a single television at Times headquarters is tuned to Fox News, where they could have caught it quite easily.)
Hoyt summarized the video sting in which ACORN workers at several branches across the country were captured giving advice on child sex trafficking and tax evasion to a gaudy pimp and a hot-pants prostitute (actually conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles). The tapes, whose gradual release were masterfully mediated by Andrew Brietbart at his new website BigGovernment.com, resulted in ACORN being cut off from federal funding and losing its ties to the Census Bureau and IRS. Yet the Times took little interest in the scandal and the consequences:
But for days, as more videos were posted and government authorities rushed to distance themselves from Acorn, The Times stood still. Its slow reflexes -- closely following its slow response to a controversy that forced the resignation of Van Jones, a White House adviser -- suggested that it has trouble dealing with stories arising from the polemical world of talk radio, cable television and partisan blogs.
Some stories, lacking facts, never catch fire. But others do, and a newspaper like The Times needs to be alert to them or wind up looking clueless or, worse, partisan itself.
This is quite misleading. The Times already monitors opinion media for story tips. It's just that they only monitor the left side of the blogosphere. Lachlan Markay provided some stark examples at NewsBusters on Sunday:
We've all been witness to the deft handling of the MSM by Andrew Breitbart and the investigative reporters James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. Their work has uncovered a level of corruption being perpetrated by members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), heretofore unknown; at least by those who derive their information solely from the likes of Big Media.
However, as diligent members of the conservative community, it is crucial that one keeps an eye out for lower levels of corruption stained by the fingerprints of ACORN. Will your local newspapers be able and willing to connect the dots?
One such scenario involves a massive voter fraud case in upstate New York. The allegations, which were brought to light by the Albany Times Union, involve absentee ballots forged by people associated with the city's Democratic Party for those registered to vote on the Working Families Party (WFP) line in Troy, NY. The ballots not only involve clearly forged signatures, but also, falsifying excuses for not being present on Election Day, and registering individuals who no longer live in the area.
Some interesting items not being covered in the investigative report are the links between the WFP and ACORN, and even certain names mentioned in the article which clearly show ties with the organization.
The New York Times announced today that it would appoint an editor to monitor 'opinion media'. In an attempt to respond to criticism that it has been too slow to pick up on stories first reported by conservative blogs and talk show hosts, the Times acknowledged poor coverage, but denied a political agenda.
The self-proclaimed 'paper of record' was extremely slow in picking up on two recent stories. The first, the 'trutherism' of former White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, was initially reported by Pajamas Media, and later by Glenn Beck on his Fox News talk show. The Times did not cover the story until after Jones had resigned.
Later, the Times neglected to report on the undercover sting operation that exposed ACORN for offering assistance in a bogus child prostitution ring. The Times reported on Congress's votes to de-fund ACORN, but neglected to mention the sting operation that inspired the votes.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was hit hard by the videos showing employees giving tax avoidance advice to a "pimp" and "hooker."
But Maddow rose to the defense of ACORN which she called a right-wing "bogeyman," crusading for them on her MSNBC show. She accused corporations of going into "kill mode" against the organization which helps "poor people."
A group called Americans for Limited Government on Thursday accused a producer for NBC's "Dateline" of sending them an anti-Semitic e-mail message in response to the organization's request for Congress to defund the controversial group ACORN.
The mass e-mail in question, sent by ALG's Alex Rosenwald to many members of the media including NBC's Jane Stone, said:
“The only way Congress can unravel all of the various funding measures in the ‘stimulus,’ in the ‘Foreclosure Prevention Act,’ and other measures is to pass the ‘Defund ACORN Act’ immediately. They should do it now. Before ACORN spends it all.” -- ALG President Bill Wilson
If you haven't been under a rock the last few weeks, or relying on the mainstream media as your sole source of news, you are likely aware of some of the questionable circumstances surrounding the organization Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
A pair of intrepid investigative reporters, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, with the help of Andrew Breitbart, made it possible for the public to be aware of these practices by ACORN. However, the embattled organization, in a retaliatory maneuver, has filed a suit against O'Keefe, Giles and Breitbart. Breitbart appeared on Fox News Channel's Sept. 24 "The O'Reilly Factor" and responded to the suit.
"So, all I can see is that this lawsuit is an attempt to stifle free speech and the First Amendment and an attempt to make sure that the American people don't see the rest of the tapes and there are more tapes," Breitbart said.
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared this morning on the only major network President Obama neglected in Sunday's morning show press blitz, the Fox News Channel. During his appearance, Bozell argued that President Obama is "lying with disturbing regularity," that the media are not calling him on it, and that Obama's press strategy is not working in building support for his policies, despite a media biased in his favor.
Asked by "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy if the president's Sunday morning show blitz was fruitful, Bozell answered in the negative, arguing that Obama is turning off the audience he's trying to win over:
What's settling in is Obama fatigue. The man is giving the same speech over and over and over and over again, and now he has to go on five networks to find an audience, cumulative audience, because the audience just isn't there. And the audience that is listening is being turned off.
As to why Obama refused to go on Fox, Bozell argued that it was because unlike the other networks with those networks' generally softball questions, "he's going to get a serious question or two" on Fox.
Bozell also noted a major contrast with "The Great Communicator," President Ronald Reagan:
Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis promised that her organization would conduct a "total audit," and would name an independent auditor by Friday ("within 48 hours"). Later, it said it would do so yesterday.
The group finally acted today, in totally underwhelming fashion. We're not going to get a "total audit" after all. Instead, there's going to be an "internal investigation," and it will be conducted by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
If this were a Republican group, or if the press were doing its job, this change in mission would be correctly labeled a watered-down cop-out. Instead, the Associated Press's Sharon Theimer played along with it and made no reference to ACORN's high-minded promises last week.
The Washington Post today published on page A2 a correction to a September 18 article on James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, the duo behind "The $1,300 Mission to Fell ACORN" (h/t NewsBusters tipster Sean O'Brien):
A Sept. 18 Page One article about the community organizing group ACORN incorrectly said that a conservative journalist targeted the organization for hidden-camera videos partly becase its voter-registration drives bring Latinos and African Americans to the polls. Although ACORN registers people mostly from those groups, the maker of the videos, James E. O'Keefe, did not specifically mention them.
In other words: sorry we tagged you as a racist by putting words in your mouth.
Of course, the original Post article didn't say race was "partly" the impetus for O'Keefe's hidden-camera piece, it suggested it was the only reason and that other conservatives despise ACORN for racially-motivated reasons. Here's the original offending passage in the article: