Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, in the wake of James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's embarrassing video barrage, went into damage control mode:
As a result of the indefensible action of a handful of our employees, I am, in consultation with ACORN’s Executive Committee, immediately ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review. I have also communicated with ACORN’s independent Advisory Council, and they will assist ACORN in naming an independent auditor and investigator to conduct a thorough review of all of the organization's relevant systems and processes.
The Politico entry from Ben Smith linked above reports that the (cough, cough) "Independent Advisory Council" consists of the following eight members:
On Monday’s Morning Meeting, MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan and his journalist guests expressed frustration that the ACORN scandal hasn’t gone away. Politico correspondent Mike Allen lobbied, “...It's time to move on." Ratigan highlighted other groups and offered moral equivalence: “And are all of these organizers ultimately guilty of some sort of shady activity or another?”
Following a reading of the organization’s questionable accounting, the cable host spun, “Does it add up to the fall of ACORN or is it just something fun to talk about?” Allen, who used to write for the Washington Post, bizarrely tried to suggest the media have been covering ACORN too much: “Well, Dylan, this is classic for the press, driving from one side of the road to the other. We were flat-footed. We were slow to cover it. Now, we won't give it up.”
Fair enough. But Breitbart asserted what I believe is a bigger point. It isn't just that the establishment media would have ignored the story if James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles had attempted to put it out there on their own. Breitbart believes that Big Media would have actively worked to bury it and to discredit its authors. There's little doubt that Andrew is absolutely correct.
That, and the Washington Post reports on how ACORN was just "playing along" with the sting artists who caught them on videotape. You knew that was coming, didn't you? You already know that the freelance sting artists who zapped ACORN are being -- and have been -- referred to as "racists" and puppets of conservative radio and Fox News. Now, ACORN is utilizing a tried and true (but not very successful) tactic: Explaining that they were just "playing along" with the "ridiculous scheme."
I'm old enough to remember the famous (or infamous) Abscam sting of the early 1980s. One of the representatives who was convicted of taking bribes -- Richard Kelly -- famously (and hilariously) defended his illegal actions by claiming he was "undertaking his own investigation" and "spent part of the [bribe] money to maintain his cover." It didn't work. Kelly spent thirteen months in the federal pen.
But more interestingly on their Two-Way news blog, NPR's Frank James blames not ACORN itself, but society:
In a column today, Salon’s Joe Conason drastically downplays the history of illegality that characterizes the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. In his revisionist history of the organization, Conason tries to show that ACORN may commit voter registration fraud, intimidate its employees to prevent them from unionizing, and willingly assist in the trafficking of underage sex slaves, but by and large it is a force for good.
For many years the combined forces of the far right and the Republican Party have sought to ruin ACORN, the largest organization of poor and working families in America.
Ah yes, ACORN is supposedly battling for the rights of the working class. But in 1995, the organization sued the State of California for an exemption to the high minimum wage laws in that state on the grounds that higher wages would mean they would have to employ fewer people. Incidentally, this is the exact same argument that every opponent of minimum wage laws employs, and ACORN has always battled for a higher minimum wage.
Leave it to the Associated Press to drive the establishment media's attempt to portray ACORN's serious impairment as almost entirely the product of the Republican Party.
Never mind that Democrats control the Senate, which voted 83-7 to pull HUD funding from the group earlier this week, meaning that the vast majority of Democrats supported the measure. Never mind that the House, including about 70% of Democrats, yesterday voted to totally defund ACORN by 345-75.
In the world of Jim Abrams and the Associated Press, it must be almost all the GOP's fault that this happened. Check out the headline (frequently used elsewhere, as seen in this Google Web search on the exact title in quotes) at the reporter's story:
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
The Politico’s Mike Allen appeared on Wednesday’s Morning Joe to both defend the mainstream media’s decision to ignore the ACORN controversy and agree that a double standard is at work. Commenting on a piece he wrote about the subject, the former New York Times reporter spun, "And what we heard was news executives saying that there's so much out there. Two wars, health care, a President who's struggling, that they didn't have time to focus on this."
Asserting that, somehow, Americans should appreciate the media’s efforts to spike coverage of ACORN, He cheered, "I think we should be grateful for that filter so that you go to places- NBC News, Politico, others- that you can trust and you’ll know that what is there is accurate and not speculation." Grateful? How can viewers be expected to trust a source when that outlet ignores certain inconvenient stories?
Gregory Hall, a former employee of scandal-plagued ACORN, labeled the organization “the most corrupt group in the country” on Wednesday’s Fox and Friends on FNC. Hall placed the blame squarely on the national leaders of the left-wing group: “They’re the ones that are constantly giving the orders that say- make the money, no matter what- lie, steal, cheat- and I’ve got the witnesses to prove it” [audio clips from the segement are available here].
Anchor Steve Doocy first asked the ACORN critic if he was surprised by the recently released undercover videos showing employees of the organization trying to abet underage prostitution, tax evasion, and other crimes. Hall answered, “No, I’m not surprised,” and explained that “there is not much good in ACORN anymore, as far as its mission, and definitely not through its executive board.”
In the first story on CBS since the scandal broke last week, on Tuesday’s Evening News, anchor Katie Couric reported: "The grassroots community organization called ACORN helps low-income Americans find affordable housing and gets tens of millions of dollars in government funding. But as Cynthia Bowers reports, that may be coming to an end after a scandal caught on tape."
After showing undercover video of ACORN workers across the country advising filmmakers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who posed as a pimp and prostitute, on how to run an underage prostitution ring, Bowers explained: "ACORN says the workers caught on tape were fired but contends the videos were illegally obtained, doctored and deceptive, and is threatening legal action against the undercover filmmakers posing as the couple...No matter who’s to blame, long-term damage to the reputation of the poverty rights organization may already be done." The CBS story failed to identify ACORN as a liberal organization.
NBC did not get to the ACORN story on Tuesday’s Nightly News, but did cover the scandal on Wednesday’s Today, with co-host Meredith Vieira reporting: "And now to the scandal involving the community organizing group known as ACORN. Over the years, it has received tens of millions of dollars in federal housing money, but now hidden camera videos have led to the U.S. Senate voting to cut off funds to the group."
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.
This morning, co-host Don Wade of 890 WLS radio's Wade and Roma show in Chicago threw a question at ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson that I suspect was on many listeners' minds:
Don: Okay, here’s my news question. A Senate bill yesterday passes, cutting off funds to this group called ACORN. Now, we got that bill passed and we have the embarrassing video of ACORN staffers giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel with 13-year-old hookers. It has everything you could want – corruption and sleazy action at tax-funded organizations and it’s got government ties. But nobody’s covering that story. Why?
Keep in mind that James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's first pair of videos at BigGovernment.com showing an ACORN office engaged in the activity described appeared in the early morning on September 10. That was five days ago.
But until that moment, the topic apparently wasn't on Gibson's mind. Here's Gibson's jaw-dropping answer, with additional follow-up banter (HT to Rush on the air; transcribed by Michelle Malkin, who also has audio):
A bipartisan consensus of senators in Washington is newsworthy in these fiercely partisan times, but when the matter of agreement is something that leaves egg on the faces of the left-wing community organizers, eh, not so much.
Yesterday, in an 83-7 vote -- 50 Democrats and 33 Republicans for; 6 Democrats and 1 independent against -- the Senate passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the use of federal funds to the scandal-ridden Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). [related item on media ignoring the ACORN story by my colleague Dan Gainor here]
This morning, neither ABC's "Good Morning America" nor CBS's "Early Show" nor NBC's "Today" reported on the vote and the underlying controversy surrounding the liberal community organizing group.
The Senate voted Monday to block the Housing and Urban Development Department from giving grants to ACORN, a community organization under fire in several voter-registration fraud cases. The 83-7 vote would deny housing and community grant funding to ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The action came as the group is suffering from bad publicity after a duo of conservative activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp released hidden-camera videos in which ACORN employees in Baltimore gave advice on house-buying and how to account on tax forms for the woman's income. Two other videos, aired frequently on media outlets such as the Fox News Channel, depict similar situations in ACORN offices in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. The Senate's move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair housing education and outreach.
There was a huge protest against Obama's big-government plans at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, but one was hard-pressed to find evidence of it on the New York Times home page Sunday morning: A small headline tucked under the Political subhead.
The print edition wasn't much more forthcoming. Although the Washington D.C. Fire Dept. estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people attended the 9/12 protest, and many estimates are higher, the Times made do with one medium-sized story buried on page A37 of the Sunday paper, "Thousands Attend Broad Protest of Government," teasing it on the front page in a below-the-fold photo from the march. A much smaller Obama rally got better placement, and so had a previous ACORN-led left-wing protest numbering...40 people.
Reporter Jeff Zeleny painted protesters as "angry" and "profane" and that the rally contained "no shortage of vitriol," as if there were never raised voices and obscene signage at left-wing anti-war rallies:
A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to a health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.
On a cloudy and cool day, the demonstrators came from all corners of the country, waving American flags and handwritten signs explaining the root of their frustrations. Their anger stretched well beyond the health care legislation moving through Congress, with shouts of support for gun rights, lower taxes and a smaller government.
Video of Baltimore ACORN activists willing to help a pimp and prostitute work out a tax shelter for a brothel is a "devastating" indictment of the liberal activist group, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell pronounced on the September 11 "Hannity." [MP3 audio available here]
"It shows the power of the Internet. It doesn't matter anymore that [Big Three broadcast networks] ABC and NBC and CBS aren't covering it. The world now knows about it because people go in there and show them the truth," Bozell noted, adding that it proves what conservatives have been saying that ACORN "is a suspect organization [subsidized] with millions of taxpayer dollars."
Bozell also discussed the controversy involving Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who yelled "You lie!" at President Obama during last Wednesday's speech before Congress:
Early this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press's treatment of the firing of two employees at ACORN's Baltimore office. These employees were successfully stung by undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who posed as a pimp (one who said he has plans to use the money from his "enterprise" to run for Congress), and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
In a pair of videos (full script here) released on Thursday, viewers saw the two helpful ACORN Baltimore employees tell O'Keefe and Giles, among many jaw-dropping things, that:
Giles should call herself a “freelance performing artist” for tax purposes.
That they should claim three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes as dependents.
That the prostitute should also claim child tax credits for those declared as "dependents."
O'Keefe and Giles piled on Friday morning by releasing a second pair of videos showing that they had pulled off a similar sting at ACORN's DC office.
But if we're to believe the Associated Press's Hope Yen, Friday's out of the blue decision by the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN in connection with the 2010 census had nothing or at most very little to do with what O'Keefe and Giles pulled off. Instead, Yen portrayed the decision as a cave-in to the minority party in Washington known as Republicans. Uh-huh.
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:
For eight years in America, protest was in and all the cool kids did it. We had flamboyantly dressed Code Pinkers demonstrating at conventions and in sessions of Congress, calling Marine recruiters “traitors” and protesting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Then there were the crazies from Acorn stalking Wall Street executives at their homes. And anti-war lefty Cindy Sheehan got so much news coverage from the major networks and top newspapers that they practically had to create a bureau to handle her antics.
Through it all, the left whined that President George Bush was a fascist – with “BusHitler” a common term among the foam-at-mouth Birkenstock set. (Google Bush and Hitler and you’ll get more than 1 million hits including a bunch of Photoshopped images of Bush in a Nazi uniform with a Hitler mustache.) We were supposed to bear with it. Dissent was patriotic we were told. Those hate-spewing anti-war activists really loved our soldiers – especially when they were mocking the war right outside a veteran’s hospital. And the endless stream of Nazi comparisons were just free speech, after all.
CNN’s Newsroom on Thursday ran a glowing documentary-style report about a pro-ObamaCare rally on Capitol Hill that was organized by a coalition of left-wing organizations. Anchor Heidi Collins introduced the report without referencing any of the organizers, which included ACORN, MoveOn.org and SEIU. The report also featured a former Obama campaign operative who pushed for the president’s plan.
The report, filed by CNN photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead, first ran 19 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour of Newsroom, and ran again two hours later during the noontime hour. Collins introduced Moorhead’s report and described the apparent steadfastness of the left-wing activists, without referencing their ideology: “Despite the summer heat, thousands of activists have turned out on Capitol Hill to rally for health care reform. In today’s ‘Health Care in Focus,’ photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead gives us an inside look at the work and determination of volunteers hoping to make a difference.”
For Congress, the August recess almost always means a round of town hall meetings and other gatherings at which our elected officials get to hear from the citizenry on what they have done thus far in session.
This summer, for those Congressman and Senators voting for or supporting government-run ObamaCare, the cap-and-trade tax and regulatory regime, the $787 billion alleged "stimulus" package and other huge government-tiny result programs, these constituent encounters have been very unpleasant indeed. So unpleasant, in fact, that some are defying orders from Nancy Pelosi and beginning to bail on them.
The instances of taxpayer revolts at these meetings have been mounting, with new videos gone viral appearing it seems almost daily. They must make it on the digital underground, you see, for outside of the gathering for Senator Arlen Specter (D/R/D-PA) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the Lamestream Media have been largely reluctant to report on them.
MRC's Vice President for Business and Culture, Dan Gainor, appeared on Fox News Channel today to discuss a GOP Congressional Report that accused ACORN of political corruption and fraud.
"Happening Now" host Jane Skinner asked: "Dan, boil it down into the simplest terms: what the main accusation is here."
"Well, the main accusation is that they're breaking both election laws and tax laws while using – they've got $53 million from the federal government over the last – since 1994. And they've also got $2 million from Bank of America so we've actually bailed out ACORN. You and me and everybody watching. And so what the House is charging them, you know, the House Republicans are saying that they're using this money to boost the campaigns of Democratic officials – whether it's Blagojevich or Obama or others," Gainor said.
The New York Times was less than truthful in an editorial yesterday on ACORN's involvement in the 2010 census and implied that Republicans and Obama administration critics were paranoid.
After pontificating that Republicans' fears were overblown about Robert M. Groves, the statistical voodoo practitioner who was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as census director, the Old Gray Lady opined
Some groups on the left may have it out for anti-tax tea party movement, but according to one of the movement's biggest proponents - it is because they don't understand it from a hierarchical perspective.
Although there are reports that ACORN, The Huffington Post and the Daily Kos wanting to infiltrate the rallies, or crying foul for other reason - Beck, who appeared on Fox News Channel's April 9 "Your World with Neil Cavuto," explained that the left has difficulty understanding it's not a top-down movement, but a bottom-up one.
"It is a fundamental misunderstanding of the left," Beck said. "They don't get it. They think that these tax rallies - because they are so into their ‘.org's and their ACORN movements, where you have to have these coordinators. These are regular people and they are regular people that were hacked off at George W. Bush. They were angry at the spending of the Republicans."
Acts of protest tend to be synonymous with the left and are usually considered unsurprising on the right. However, when conservatives demonstrate - liberals take notice in a big way.
On Fox News Channel's April 7 "Your World," host Neil Cavuto reported that the Tax Day tea party protests on April 15 will be "infiltrated" by their political opponents and led by left-wing activist organizations. He specifically named Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
"Only eight days before a nationwide tea party, some over-caffeinated crashers aiming to lay waste to it," Cavuto said. "Reports of very well-organized infiltrators trying to mix in and rain on this parade. Talk about taxing."
According to election fraud lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh, The New York Times decided suddenly to drop all efforts last October to publish stories about the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) because it came to light that ACORN was a big donor to then presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign. The Times is said to have told ACORN insider Anita Moncrief that they were dropping the story because it was a "game changer" for the election and might hurt Obama's campaign.
Heidelbaugh, who worked for the Penn. Republican State Committee in a vote fraud lawsuit against ACORN, told a House Judiciary subcommittee on March 19 that she had found a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign through the inside information from former ACORN worker Anita Moncrief.
A left-wing "bus tour" protest prowled the affluent neighborhoods of Fairfield, Conn. on Saturday afternoon, looking for AIG execs to harass. The protest, run by a group sponsored by unlabeled leftists ACORN, were railing against the bonuses paid out to employees of the struggling insurance giant. The New York Times found the stunt worthy of a full story in the national section of Sunday's paper: "Carrying a Populist Message Into A.I.G. Territory." (The online headline differs from the print version.)
Reporter Manny Fernandez, while sounding supportive, remarked drily that more media than passengers were in attendance:
The bus pulled to a stop, and a pastor whose sister-in-law was facing foreclosure, a laid-off steelworker with a wife and five children, and a few of their colleagues nervously stepped out, like sightseers in some exotic land.
Los Angeles's NBC television affiliate must not have gotten the memo telling them that they should not utter the name of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), lest anyone reach the "wrong" conclusions.
NBC Los Angeles is the only media outlet I have found thus far to identify ACORN's presence in a story about a "disruptive display of disobedience" by members the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) at a school board meeting Tuesday (the story credit is to "Associated Press/NBC Los Angeles," but as you will see later, I found no AP story containing an ACORN reference).
Here is the story headline that the Google News crawler apparently originally found: