ACORN Controversy Provides Case Study in Combating Media Liberalism

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.


Stewart initially advised Giles and O'Keefe on how to attain financing for a brothel. She suggests they not be disheartened by banks that turn them down for a loan. "Keep pushing. Somebody will say yes," she stated. O'Keefe informed Stewart of his plan to launder money from the "lucrative" sex business into a political campaign. Stewart offered to "do research for you" and "find out what we can do" to eliminate a paper trail from the prostitution business to the campaign fund.

Asked if she had a problem with the smuggling of underage sex slaves from El Salvador, Stewart responded, "you know what, I'm not going to be judgmental... Fourteen and fifteen-year-olds have been traveling overseas for years... I can't control that, it's not my issue."

This new tape contradicts claims from some liberal commentators, who stated before the release of the tape that Stewart had refused to help with the prostitution business. Los Angeles Times columnist James Rainey printed an unsubstantiated statement from Stewart that,

she tried to get the "prostitute," who claimed she had been beaten by her pimp, to go to a women's center. 

"The fact she was not taking the help I offered her made me think something was not right," Stewart said. "It raised a red flag."

Rainey did not bother to check this claim, but rather printed it as fact in an attempt to discredit Giles and O'Keefe. Ironically, he also criticized center-right media commentators who reported the story, stating "No legitimate news organization can claim editorial integrity if it merely regurgitates information from political activists without subjecting the material to serious scrutiny." This was the same scrutiny he neglected to apply to Stewart's claims.

Breitbart told Patterico that he would have warned Rainey, had he been contacted for comment, "think twice before accepting the word of an ACORN employee for anything. Because every journalist who has done so has ended up with egg on his or her face."

The liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America seized on Rainey's column, stating that Stewart's words "undermine O'Keefe's and Giles' claims" that they were not turned away by any ACORN office.

It is now plainly obvious that Stewart did indeed offer to help the duo. Breitbart's strategy of rolling out the ACORN videos one at a time has succeeded once again in subverting critics who question the filmmakers' integrity and honesty. It seems that every time the liberal media attempts to discredit the filmmakers, another video is released substantiating their claims. Breitbart's strategy has embarrassed a number of pundits who were quick to defend ACORN, not knowing that additional videos would be released contradicting their claims.

The first five videos released on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com led to congressional votes to de-fund ACORN. The Census Bureau severed all ties with the organization. But to date Attorney General Eric Holder has not opened an investigation into the group. Breitbart, Giles, and O'Keefe appeared on Hannity Thursday night to discuss the most recent expose. Breitbart stated,

There's a lot of hypocrisy and the dust has settled for ACORN and at the end of the day they've recognized that Eric Holder, the Attorney General, has not initiated an investigation into ACORN after we now have seven tapes. There were five initially that came out, ACORN was defunded by the Senate, was defunded by the House, lost it's link to the Census; while all that damage occurred, Congress didn't come in to investigate them, obviously not the Attorney General's office, and they've now realized let's get back into business because they realized that the dust settled and they were not being investigated, it was Hannah, James, and me who were being investigated, that's why we've been forced to offer this latest tape.
Asked by Hannity whether there were more videos yet to be released, Breitbart replied,
Oh my goodness there are! Not only are there more tapes, it's not just ACORN. And this message is to Attorney General Holder: I want you to know that we have more tapes, it's not just ACORN, and we're going to hold out until the next election cycle, or else if you want to do a clean investigation, we will give you the rest of what we have, we will comply with you, we will give you the documentation we have from countless ACORN whistleblowers who want to come forward but are fearful of this organization and the retribution that they fear that this is a dangerous organization. So if you get into an investigation, we will give you the tapes; if you don't give us the tapes, we will revisit these tapes come election time.
Given Breitbart's track record and his highly successful strategy of anticipating ACORN's defenses and countering them with an additional vide, Holder might be wise to heed his warning and open that investigation before next November.