News & Criticism

An ACORN in the Media's _____

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Your mileage will vary, but for my money the most entertaining part of the ACORN undercover video sting–which, dollar for dollar, has been the most impactful piece of journalism this year (that I'm aware of anyway)–is watching Respectable News Outlets approach the controversy with radiation-resistant tongs. For instance, the New York Times' reliably pompous Dean Baquet:

So totally not Glenn Beck

"For Glenn Beck to devote 45 minutes of his show to ACORN and Van Jones says more about his news judgment than mine," said Dean Baquet, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times.

"He's not a newsman and that's not a news show," Baquet continued. "He's not trying to cover the economy, two wars, health care, the aftermath from one administration to another, negotiations with Iran or North Korea."

Note what he's doing there: While reluctanctly acknowledging his own organization's slow response to a story, Baquet haughtily attacks the news values of the organizations that got it first. Accountability journalism!

When the Washington Post got around to writing about the fake pimp/ho documentary combo, it was soaked in what's-their-real-motives innuendo:

Shadowy cabalster!

O'Keefe insists that he and Giles's work was done independently and rejects liberal suggestions that the videos were bankrolled by conservative organizations. He does, however, acknowledge receiving help and advice from a conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur. […]

Though O'Keefe described himself as a progressive radical, not a conservative, he said he targeted ACORN for the same reasons that the political right does: its massive voter registration drives that turn out poor African Americans and Latinos against Republicans.

Even when WashPost Ombudsdman Andrew Alexander agreed with critics of the paper's coverage on the topic, he could only do so with a big to-be-sure about the nassty right wingersses:

Yes, the building is that communist

It's tempting to dismiss such gimmicks. Fox News, joined by right-leaning talk radio and bloggers, often hypes stories to apocalyptic proportions while casting competitors as too liberal or too lazy to report the truth.

But they're also occasionally pumping legitimate stories.

One of the more convincing non-coverage defenses came from Austin American-Statesman Editor Fred Zipp ("First, it's a local story set elsewhere," he explained last week). But Zipp couldn't leave well enough alone:

So totally not Fox News' agenda

Second, we're not Fox, and we resist letting Fox set our agenda. The story is only now beginning to catch fire among the news sources that we trust. As they offer stories that dissect ACORN, its activities, the origin of the controversy and the credibility of its principal antagonists, we will publish them.

At best, this is an example of outsourcing news judgment. At worst, it's a classic example of pointless (and, likely, politically one-sided) media shadowboxing. As an editor, by definition you set your "agenda"; defining yourself in opposition to others' is a game that has no logical conclusion, and says more about who you are pre-emptively biased against than what you tangibly stand for. Does Zipp offer equal resistance to agenda-setting from The Huffington Post? The Daily Kos? Texas Monthly?

A final bit of tut-tutting–directed equally at those who initially broke, publicized, and consumed the story–comes from reliably yawn-inducing L.A. Times media columnist James Rainey:

Should news organizations be using this kind of subterfuge to get stories? If so, when? And when such hidden-camera theatrics come over the transom, how closely should they be scrutinized before they are thrown open to the public?

The answers—surprise, surprise—are not so simple. […]

B-b-b-b-b-ut the SPJ said to gatekeep!

[T]he Society of Professional Journalists has set a standard that deception should be used only when every other reporting approach has been exhausted and only then in certain cases, most notably to reveal a severe social problem or to prevent people from being harmed. […]

Yet no legitimate news organization can claim editorial integrity if it merely regurgitates information from political activists without subjecting the material to serious scrutiny.

"The role of gatekeeper and arbiter is the main role left for the mainstream media," said Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota. "If they are not at least doing that, they might as well give up."

Some news outlets have taken that responsibility on earnestly, but others, notably Fox News and its commentators, have taken a pass. They've offered little context and less proportion in recycling the ACORN story, day after day. […]

Does any of this mean ACORN gets a clean bill of health? Hardly. But it suggests that the full scope of the story, and a fair and balanced look at an organization that clearly has some problems, has not yet emerged. […]

Make-believe can be a powerful tactic for video stings and commentators out to stir the pot.

But then, journalists are supposed to take the raw material and meld it into something more meaningful. That requires context, proportion and, above all, a sense of reality.

These gatekeepery examples of pretzel logic are by no means monolithic–see Jon Stewart, or Ken Silverstein at Harpers, for example. But they illustrate a tendency that's been mostly dominant since long before Matt Drudge published information about Monica Lewinsky's dress: Newspapers, especially those with national aspirations, still lack the ability to process or even talk about news that emanates from frowned-upon pockets in the great media ecosystem. And in hiding behind the shield of News Judgment, they all too frequently advertise the fact that theirs is being proven inadequate.

See Greg Beato's great column on the ACORN sting here.

NEXT: Climate Change and the Nanny State

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  1. If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

  2. Yet no legitimate news organization can claim editorial integrity if it merely regurgitates information from political activists without subjecting the material to serious scrutiny.

    Hey, 60 Minutes is legitimate news organization, and they do this all the time.

  3. 10/17/08 NEVER FORGET

  4. “Yet no legitimate news organization can claim editorial integrity if it merely regurgitates information from political activists without subjecting the material to serious scrutiny.”

    Glad to see that the L.A. Times took enough of a break from fellating Obama to make this statement.

  5. Watching members of the old vanguard “mainstream” media twist themselves around in attempts to remain in denial about their self-inflicted demise is really a special pleasure.

  6. Hilarious. Keep obsolescing yourselves, old media.

  7. Once again, a masterful use of alt-tags.

  8. 10/17/08 NEVER FORGET

    Never forget what?

  9. I’ll bet that kid doesn’t even have a degree in Journalism!

  10. 10/17/08 NEVER FORGET

    Yo, fuck Joseph P. Boyle of Lowell, Massachusetts.

  11. So when Lisa Ling went undercover as part of a humanitarian eye surgeon’s team to film North Koreans, she was a heroine? But as ACORN’s not a totalitarian state (yet!), this action wasn’t okay?

  12. O’Keefe insists that he and Giles’s work was done independently and rejects liberal suggestions that the videos were bankrolled by conservative organizations. He does, however, acknowledge receiving help and advice from a conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur.

    It amazes me how there’s this overwhelming sense that the left somehow has a monopoly on grass roots movements and that any time somebody protests in a manner that is in any way non-“progressive” there must be a political organization or corporation behind it.

  13. If deception is used to uncover illegal business practices designed to generate a profit, then it’s OK. However, since ACORN isn’t technically a “for profit” business, then it’s just wrong apparently. Every news magazine does these kinds of stings…but because this was just a couple of people operating on a $1300 budget, all bets are off now.

    Funny how that shit works, ain’t it?

  14. ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told Fox News Sunday on September 20 that her group “absolutely pays its taxes.” But her claim crumbles before the $548,213.25 federal tax lien that the Internal Revenue Service filed against the embattled New Orleans-based activist organization. Louisiana state tax officials also have slapped $334,121.43 in tax liens on ACORN since last October 29.

    As if its federal woes were insufficient, ACORN is in big trouble with Baton Rouge, too.

    “We have a full-scale investigation into ACORN and all of its subsidiaries,” Tammi Arender, spokesman for Louisiana Attorney General Bobby Caldwell recently stated. “No stone will be left unturned. We’re still looking into their recent activities.” Caldwell subpoenaed ACORN, former ACORN head Wade Rathke, and the group’s financial institution, Whitney Bank. Caldwell seeks information stretching back to 1998 on ACORN and some 361 tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt outfits in its universe.

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZjgzMGExNzJlYjIwNTYwNDljZDY1NGQ5YzQzZDljOWM=

  15. He does, however, acknowledge receiving help and advice from a conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur.

    Also known as his editor. Shady business, that.

  16. The reaction to the ACORN tapes has been as amusing as the tapes themselves. We’ve been told that any large organization has some bad apples. Right…. Does anyone think that if O’Keefe and Giles had done the same thing in various offices of (say) the Bank of America, they’d have found people eager to help them get a mortgage for a brothel?

    Or that right-wingers hate ACORN because it helps poor people. Right…. That must be why they’re also notorious for hating the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

    ClubMedSux: That’s known as “projection.”

  17. Even if the efforts were bankrolled by “conservative organizations”, exactly what difference would that make?

    I’m getting really fucking sick of hearing people, especially the media on the left, destroy any possibility of legitimate discourse by constantly starting with ad homs… Who gives a shit who paid for that kids’ fedora? Was he right or not? I think the video is pretty conclusive.

  18. “Caldwell seeks information stretching back to 1998 on ACORN and some 361 tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt outfits in its universe.”

    Keep shredding, Deshawn, keep shredding!

  19. 10/17/08 NEVER FORGET

    Yo, fuck Joseph P. Boyle of Lowell, Massachusetts.

    As if the Obama-love wasn’t enough. Now he’ll never dare show his gorilla mask here again. I bet he lurks, though. HE LURKS LARGE

  20. They cannot just attack an entity like ACORN that is doing the Lord’s work in growing the government. As all good journalists know, there is nothing wrong with that (except sometimes it doesn’t grow fast enough).

  21. Who gives a shit who paid for that kids’ fedora?

    You found Carmen Sandiego!

  22. He looms large, Epi. Like a fart in a hyperbaric chamber, he looms large.

  23. Now he’ll never dare show his gorilla mask here again.

    To tie this all into the teabagger thread, what about going with donkey punchers as a little bit of an FU to democrats?

  24. I still haven’t seen a quality explanation of why ACORN is so important all the sudden. The evidence (journalists still care about that, right?) is that ACORN bungled everything it did, from helping pimps with taxes to “massive voter registration drives” that appear to have registered sports mascots and fictional characters. The did, however, manage to swindle the federal government out of quite a bit of dough. All in all, uncovering their lack of organization is a good thing. (Of course, in the age of Punk’d, Borat and the always charming Tom Green, it doesn’t look to me like the ACORN schlubs are all that serious about helping the kids in the Halloween costumes. But since this is generated rage anyway, I’ll play along).

    If Barack Obama weren’t a “community organizer”, ACORN would have never become the center of right wing anger. And I’m getting tired of hearing about how exposing this non-entity is the greatest thing the right has done since hostages in Iran.

  25. Who is the donkey puncher, though, Ska? ACORN members? Nancy Pelosi? Puncharello?

  26. Thanks X

  27. You call it “outsourcing news judgment” when reputable journalists choose not to be intimidated into covering news stories of questionable importance, such as the ACORN videos, by partisan non-journalistic sources like Fox, while demanding that editors “set their own agenda.” Yet you refuse to countenance the possibility that Mr. Zipp is setting his own agenda by not being bullied by ideologues into covering an entertaining but unimportant story. How much does Murdoch pay you, anyway?

  28. Well, Lamar, you need to read up a little more on ACORN.

    It has registered millions of “voters”, the vast majority in Dem districts. It is an important part of the Dem machine.

    It is heavily involved in all kinds of rent-seeking at the local level.

    It is cashing millions of dollars in stimulus funds, and was supposed to be a big source of labor for the census.

    This isn’t small potatos. If ACORN goes down, then a big chunk of the far-left’s political machine goes down with it. It’ll be a temporary setback, to be sure, but a setback nonetheless.

  29. “I still haven’t seen a quality explanation of why ACORN is so important all the sudden.”

    Then you must be tragically teh stoopid.

  30. Maybe, just maybe, the major networks and big news organizations didn’t pick up the ACORN story because it really isn’t much of a story? Yeah, I get it, they registered Spiderman to vote, but unless somebody with a Spiderman ID shows up that day, it means nothing. And why am I supposed to get riled up if a hooker wants to pay taxes, even if its a fake hooker?

  31. “And I’m getting tired of hearing about how exposing this non-entity is the greatest thing the right has done since hostages in Iran.”

    non-entity?

    RACIST!!!!

  32. The way I look at it, Epi, is if I was a tea party protestor, and you’re a liberal pundit calling me a teabagger, and I haven’t dunked my yambag in your piehole, then fuck it, I’m going to go all out and call myself a donkey puncher. And now you won’t know whether I’ll creep up from behind or I’ll just be squatting over your open mouth.

    Notwithstanding intergalactic keggers and what have you.

  33. The NY Times: “It’s not news, until we say it’s news.”

  34. Shut the fuck up, Smith.

  35. Lamar,

    Why do you love tax fraud?

  36. only then in certain cases, most notably to reveal a severe social problem or to prevent people from being harmed.

    What exactly counts as a “severe social problem”?

    A lot of conservatives have argued that ACORN exacerbates poverty in the neighborhoods where they are active by encouraging squatting. Thereby undermining any incentive banks might have to lend to people for restoring propety.

    ACORNs policies have literally created crack houses. Which obviously have a vastly negative effect on the economy in a depressed area. They create slums.

  37. RC Dean, respectfully, I’ve been reading up on ACORN since the election, and I still haven’t found anything to suggest that it ever held the influence the right claims it does. Is it corrupt? No doubt. It is also incompetent, disorganized and absurd. Maybe its influence is much bigger in big cities. Anyhow, this doesn’t strike me as the kind of crowd that would question whether ACORN is as powerful as claimed.

  38. “Why do you love tax fraud?”

    It’s purely sexual.

  39. Heay Lamar!

    The Pelican State’s chief prosecutor should peruse the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s July 2 notice indicating that ACORN dodged state unemployment insurance payments for all four quarters of 2008 totaling $1,382.69.

    The Louisiana Department of Revenue last November 24 alerted ACORN that it owed $26,036.01 for nine state-withholding-tax payments that it failed to pay between June 30, 2007, and May 31, 2008.

    Citizens Consulting, Inc. – ACORN’s bookkeeping arm, no less – scored a “Notice of State Tax Assessment and Lien” on Oct. 29, 2008. It details 66 withholding-tax payments that Citizens Consulting skipped between Dec. 31, 2002 and June 30, 2008. Total: $306,702.73.

    These documents are online at http://www.pelicaninstitute.org.

    This news is doubly insulting to American taxpayers. First, they often struggle to pay their taxes fully and on time. While rarely easy, most Americans somehow manage to do this. ACORN routinely blew off this duty.

    Second, since 1989, at least 53 million hard-earned dollars have flowed from the checkbooks of law-abiding taxpayers, via Washington, into the coffers of ACORN and its activist groups. ACORN, in turn, stiffs its workers by failing to pay for their Social Security and Medicare benefits. One expects better from self-styled “progressives.”

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZjgzMGExNzJlYjIwNTYwNDljZDY1NGQ5YzQzZDljOWM=

    Get it now?

  40. Yet no legitimate news organization can claim editorial integrity if it merely regurgitates information from political activists without subjecting the material to serious scrutiny.

    Yes indeed, we all remember the measured, cautious approach taken by the legitimate news organizations in response to those hilariously incompetent fake documents about Bush’s military service.

  41. Also, the WaPo had to issue a correction on the excerpt you reference.

    “[O’Keefe] said he targeted ACORN for the same reasons that the political right does: its massive voter registration drives that turn out poor African Americans and Latinos against Republicans.”

    He never said that. (But it fit the narrative, so let’s go with it.)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092202474.html

  42. Lamar,

    No way. As I noted in another thread, they were a major, high-profile organization in the lending world for a number of years, and are one of those “grassroots” organizations that the Democrats have relied upon for voter drives, etc. They’ve been mentioned quite often in the national media over the years, too, and, as SugarFree notes, it was way before this scandal that we had one of those “arguments” with joe about ACORN.

    Nah, the right may be using its collective beak to rip out the eyes of this dying beast, but it’s not inventing anything here. If anything, the left is getting off lightly, because a number of major media sources aren’t going for the jugular. ACORN’s corruption and shady practices almost certainly were known by some political leaders. Which, of course, they are duty-bound to do. . .if they’re all about journalistic integrity and speaking truth to power.

  43. @Sean

    Yup.

    Lamar is a douche.

  44. “Get it now?”

    Oh c’mon. Is this really about taxes? What ever happened to Tim Cavanaugh’s “iron principle that even inadvertent tax cheats are secret tax rebels“?

  45. Be nice to Steve Smith.

    You call it “outsourcing news judgment” when reputable journalists choose not to be intimidated into covering news stories of questionable importance, such as the ACORN videos, by partisan non-journalistic sources like Fox, while demanding that editors “set their own agenda.”

    The first problem is confusing ANYTHING with real, potential, or even imagined “intimidation.” If you can’t handle consumers and non-consumers alike lobbying you for topics or tone of coverage, you should really get out of the news business.

    The second problem is either one of my formulation or your comprehension — It’s not the coverage/lack of coverage that amounts to “outsourcing news judgment,” it’s the statement by one specific editor in this question that he’ll wait to see how the big boys cover it before deciding whether it’s worthy. It is my contention that an editor–especially one at a pretty good regional paper, like the Statesman has at least been in recent memory–can arrive at that judgment all by his lonesome.

    Is the story of “questionable importance”? In the scheme of things, you can almost *always* worry away a story’s importance. In this event, you have the most powerful medium known to mankind showing a pretty remarkable couple of exchanges. Which, when tacked onto the kind of already-on-the-record stuff that Greg Beato details at length in his column, clears my bar for newsworthiness, even if I think there are plenty of more important things happening out there.

    Yet you refuse to countenance the possibility that Mr. Zipp is setting his own agenda by not being bullied by ideologues into covering an entertaining but unimportant story.

    I “refuse to countenance” no such thing. What I say, is what I said in the post–the mere announcement that he refuses to be bullied by ideologues shows a weakness & possibly indicates warped judgment. Deciding that this is non-story for the first reason that he stated is–as I said in the post–was “convincing.”

    How much does Murdoch pay you, anyway?

    Life to date? Less than $500. Keep trying, though; I’m sure one of these punches will land.

    1. Be nice to Steve Smith.

      That went well.

  46. ACORN: Association of Criminals Obama Represented in the Nineties.

    “In 2007, in a speech to Acorn’s leaders prior to their political arm’s endorsement of his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama was effusive: ‘I’ve been fighting alongside of Acorn on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote in Illinois, Acorn was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.'”

    MR. PRESIDENT, DO YOU FEEL COMPLICIT IN THIS SCANDAL, HAVING “WORKED ALONGSIDE OF ACORN” FOR YOUR “ENTIRE CAREER”?

    MR. PRESIDENT, BASED ON PAST PERFORMANCE, WHY SHOULD WE EXPECT THAT OTHER SOCIAL ENGINEERING SCHEMES YOU CHAMPION WILL BE EFFECTIVE?

  47. Sen, not to mention Palin’s clothing allowance and Obama’s grades in college….oh, wait…

  48. ACORN: Child “Services” / Financial “Services” / “Voter” Registration —Democrat Funded

  49. RICO! RICO! RICO!

    If you thought Ken Starr was fun, just wait till we get ramped up on ACORN.

  50. Steve Smith is of questionable importance to everyone except his victims.

  51. “No way. As I noted in another thread, they were a major, high-profile organization in the lending world for a number of years.”

    I guess my clients at various banks somehow missed it. I missed it when I did legal aid work in Harlem. And even now my bank clients can’t seem to recall ever dealing with ACORN. I suspect it is one of those things where if you had to deal with ACORN, they are the devil. They seem like a terrible organization in every respect. Just try to remember that a lot of people really don’t know what the fuck this is all about. And don’t care.

    1. You’ve discussed the matter with numerous clients at multiple banks “even now” indicating there must also be a then, so during at least two separate time frames, and yet no one knows what it’s all about and doesn’t care. The “..don’t know..” yeah, maybe, plenty of stupid people around, especially in banking, but “..don’t care.” now, that’s hard to believe. Discussing the matter in detail with so many people at various points in time, some one must have cared a great deal. Either that or some one just made up the story to support their questionable assertions with a make believe consensus among imaginary people…

      Lamar, are you an ACORN employee? Just curious, since they too find imaginary people to be very useful.

  52. Wouldn’t the “good” progressives want to get rid of ACORN because they make *everybody* look bad?

    Sure they do; just like the “good” cops.

  53. Maybe, just maybe, the major networks and big news organizations didn’t pick up the ACORN story because it really isn’t much of a story?

    Maybe, just maybe, wishing won’t make it so.

    Silly pinkos, take your lumps and deal with it.

    -jcr

  54. Just try to remember that a lot of people really don’t know what the fuck this Whitewater is all about. And don’t care.

  55. “Just try to remember that a lot of people really don’t know what the fuck this is all about. And don’t care.”

    I love this man!

    (faster, Deshawn, and if it jams up again, just hit the reverse button)

  56. How is the corruption of any organization that accepts massive federal funding not a national news item? Especially when that organization has political ties aside from the funding?

    Methinks some of this is connected to the fact that a certain prominent politician had some ties with the organization. Pound on ACORN, and some of the taint might rub off on the president. Can’t allow that, can we?

    Lamar,

    Their name came up in connection to redlining debates, predatory lending, CRA, and fair housing. As I said before, their advocacy in those areas was perfectly legitimate in theory, but their practices were questioned even back then. I don’t know how far back their public presence reaches, but they were certainly known in the lending community back in the early Aughts.

  57. STEVE SMITH COME TO MATT WELCH OFFICE AND SMASH! SMASH!

  58. “I missed it when I did legal aid work in Harlem. And even now my bank clients can’t seem to recall ever dealing with ACORN”

    Perhaps they were dealing with one of our 361 tax-exempt and non-tax-exempt outfits.

    (where the hell did Deshawn go???)

  59. Maybe, just maybe, the major networks and big news organizations didn’t pick up the ACORN story because it really isn’t much of a story?

    Just like that John Edwards illegitimate baby non-story.

  60. “For Glenn Beck to devote 45 minutes of his show to ACORN and Van Jones says more about his news judgment than mine,” said Dean Baquet, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times.

    “He’s not a newsman and that’s not a news show,” Baquet continued. “He’s not trying to cover the economy, two wars, health care, the aftermath from one administration to another, negotiations with Iran or North Korea.”

    Are we talking about the same New York Times that devoted about two years of front page space to the Duke non-rape story, right up to the day before all charges were dropped?

    1. Yes, assuming the NYTs in question didn’t somehow slip into a parallel universe creating a massive vacuum bubble behind as it exited which pulled the current NYTs that had done no such thing out of yet another parallel universe and into this one, in which case the answer would possibly be no.

  61. Lamar,

    Just try to remember that a lot of people really don’t know what the fuck this is all about. And don’t care.

    I’m not quite sure why this is a a useful criticism of, well, criticism of ACORN or efforts to investigate it. I celebrate pluralistic partisanship myself.

  62. “Are we talking about the same New York Times that devoted about two years of front page space to the Duke non-rape story, right up to the day before all charges were dropped?”

    Although they didn’t actually “rape” that poor girl, you know that deep down every one of them wanted too.

  63. @The New York Times

    BTW, when is that bitch’s book supposed to come out?

  64. “How is the corruption of any organization that accepts massive federal funding not a national news item?”

    For a year straight? Like the Casey Anthony “story” there’s a lot of anger driving this one.

  65. “I’m not quite sure why this is a a useful criticism of, well, criticism of ACORN or efforts to investigate it.”

    I’m not against investigating ACORN. Never said I was, and in fact, praised them getting busted.

  66. “Maybe, just maybe, the major networks and big news organizations didn’t pick up the ACORN story because it really isn’t much of a story?”

    You’re a goddamned fool, and there is no “maybe” about it.

  67. Lamar,

    Like the Casey Anthony “story” there’s a lot of anger driving this one.

    So, now it is just a “story?”

  68. Lamar,

    What is of interest about the ACORN story is just how predictable this should be to anyone with a proper grounding in public choice economics. It isn’t just ACORN in other words.

    What this should spawn is further investigations into into any NGO.

  69. Lamar,

    If we need an investigation, how is it not newsworthy? I don’t see how rightwing hacks like Beck matter in the analysis, not if underneath it all there are many troubling facts. There is a big problem with an organization that apparently gets hundreds of millions in funding being corrupt. If it were Boeing, I don’t think anyone would question the newsworthiness of the event.

    I did some googling. ACORN was introducing and backing legislation at the state and federal levels back in 2001. There is no organization capable of doing that over the years that can be called insignificant.

    Also, it looks like the Obama campaign employed ACORN in voter-drive initiatives. If the organization is tainted in one respect, it may be in others. It may be that the political activities were pristine or thought to be so by their clients, but I highly doubt it.

    Seward,

    I agree. What shocked me about this story and was something I did not know at all was the huge amount of money that ACORN gets/got from the federal government. It can’t be the only organization like that. I want this sort of thing to stop altogether, frankly.

  70. “For a year straight?”

    Hey, Fool: it took almost that long to pry them out of that census scam.

  71. Also, it looks like the Obama campaign employed ACORN in voter-drive initiatives.

    Ooooooh! Federal Campaign Finance Laws! Whoopeeeeeeee!

  72. I certainly hope that the liberal media continues to try to cover this up. Because everyone knows that the more you cover up a story, the bigger it gets. The only way to kill an incipient scandel is by overexposure.
    That precisely why Briebart rolled out the videos slowly.

    Now the coservative media can keep the thing going on and on by making hay out of the fact that other newsmedia aren’t covering it.

    It’s amazing to me that people who think they are the intellectual superiors of the right don’t understand this. It’s the ostrich-like belief that “If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.”

  73. “I guess my clients at various banks somehow missed it. I missed it when I did legal aid work in Harlem. And even now my bank clients can’t seem to recall ever dealing with ACORN.”

    Of course they didn’t. ACORN is not involved with the gentrification of Harlem. It goes against it’s charter.

  74. “He’s not trying to cover the economy, two wars, health care, the aftermath from one administration to another, negotiations with Iran or North Korea.”

    Exactly. He’s not trying to spread himself too thin.

    Breadth versus depth. Each has their place.

  75. Breitbart worked for Drudge and Huff, and without him the story would have gotten maybe 100,000 views on Youtube and wouldn’t have resulted in their funding (supposedly) being pulled. Breitbart is a gatekeeper, just at a lower level than the MSM.

    Meanwhile, see this BofA page. The first group (ACORN) is under pressure because various people decided they should be under pressure. The second group occasionally has bad things said about them, but no gatekeeper (MSM or non-MSM) has allowed them to be covered despite the fact that covering them might have caused SoniaS to withdraw. Not that covering ACORN wasn’t a good thing, but perhaps broadening things to include other groups – and showing in a smart way why they’re wrong – would be a good thing. As a bonus, one of their former workers is now in the BHO admin.

    And, there’s another story that the gatekeepers (MSM or non-MSM) would run away from, despite the fact that it can be used to discredit the MSM. I’ve been trying to force CNN into correcting one of their “debunkings”, and forcing that correction could make others who relied on that “debunking” look bad. But, I’ve gotten zero help with that. If you want to help and are willing to make a phone call, get the answers to the questions in the FAX here.

  76. “If we need an investigation, how is it not newsworthy?”

    For a full year? If you’re Boeing and you get investigated (and pay a $50 million fine) it shows up in a couple of news cycles and everybody forgets. If you’re ACORN, we have to have news stories about the news stories.

    “So, now it is just a “story?””

    This H&R post is about the story and news organizations, not ACORN itself.

  77. “This H&R post is about the story and news organizations, not ACORN itself.”

    Then why not leave?

  78. If you’re Boeing and you get investigated (and pay a $50 million fine) it shows up in a couple of news cycles and everybody forgets.

    This tags you as a complete fucking idiot.

  79. “It’s amazing to me that people who think they are the intellectual superiors of the right don’t understand this. It’s the ostrich-like belief that “If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.”

    That’s because they exist in their own private echo-chamber world where the only opinions they give credence to are those who are in there with them. They all think that they are due deference as being superior intellects as a matter of entitlement – not requiring any actual proof.

  80. Lamar,

    Why was Ted Haggard’s affair with a gay prostititue a big story? He was small potatoes to the religious right. He led one–admittedly large–church, not a network. And yet his scandal got lots of mainstream news coverage. People drew connections between his hypocrisy and the GOP.

    This is the left-wing version. The big difference? Media saw Haggard as newsworthy, but ACORN as not. And ACORN is a major player on the left–more akin to a Christian Broadcasting Network than Haggard’s church.

  81. STEVE SMITH RAPE ACORN, THEN WELCH!

  82. If Boeing had been caught doing the same things, you betcha it would be in the news for a while.

    On what politically neutral or politically acceptable story would the Times or any other national media source be willing to defer entirely a story of this importance? Nothing, that’s what. They’re destroying their credibility by picking sides. The funding the organization gets alone makes it newsworthy, as does its role in politics.

  83. “Why was Ted Haggard’s affair with a gay prostitute a big story?”

    Yellow journalism. Same thing is going on here. (Not entirely, though. I Don’t think that these scandals should avoid all public airing. But can’t you agree that it was overkill on Haggard?)

  84. I knew something about this seemed familiar… I remember the last story damaging to Democrats that got dismissed as a non-story.

    joe | August 15, 2008, 10:40am | #

    Why is it my business that a nobody tried to cover up his affair? I’m not even sure it’s my business when important people try to cover up their affairs.

    Who was that nobody? Two-time Presidential candidate John Edwards. 8/15/2008? A nobody?

    You spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby, right round round round…

  85. “But then, journalists are supposed to take the raw material and meld it into something more meaningful. That requires context, proportion and, above all, a sense of reality.” Create some, if needs to, to fit the narratives. The best example of big media integrity: Rathergate, to take out a president whom no one supports anyway.

  86. Lamar,

    Yeah, definitely overkill on Haggard. That’s why I drew the analogy. ACORN is getting less press than Haggard, but they’re a bigger player involved in a scandal that also lends itself to sensationalism.

  87. These remarks from editors who were influenced largely by Woodward and Bernstein?

    TOO FUNNY!!!

    Evidence of total corruption of your tax dollars is ON TAPE and these “editors” defend their actions to not report it.

    WHAT A HOOT! Let’s face it…newspapers have decided they will die…[or be bailed out by the government…I will be interested to see how the spin will be there to jusify the government owning and running them] What a bunch of pansies!

    HOW ABOUT THIS NOVEL CONCEPT? Report the facts. JUST the facts.

  88. I still haven’t seen a quality explanation of why ACORN is so important all the sudden.

    I still haven’t seen a quality explanation of why we should show much concern for your state of denial.

    Just try to remember that a lot of people really don’t know what the fuck this is all about. And don’t care.

    If that’s your standard of measurement, you should be complaining about pretty much everything else on this blog. Oh, that’s right, you do.

  89. Reason it’s a big story…..tax dollars. I’m really not overly concerned if a private company is involved in shady business, except as a motivation to avoid their products and services. However when I’m paying them regardless of my objections, that really pisses me off. Of course, ACORN is just one more in a long list of things my tax dollars go towards that really anger me. But then, ACORN goes beyond much of the other tax dollar objections in that it’s a documented partisan force, working to increase democrat power, and accelerate the march away from personal freedom and responsibility.

  90. “I still haven’t seen a quality explanation of why we should show much concern for your state of denial.”

    You are as free as the next guy to disregard anything I post. Of course, “denial” is a bit of a tricky concept. Am I in denial for thinking that ACORN is a two-bit rube goldberg machine, or are you in denial for thinking that an organization busted by kids in halloween costumes was a threat to something?

  91. The level of threat is clearly debatable. However, a clearly corrupt organization receiving federal funds should automatically be a big story, and one that we force the feds to correct with alacrity.

  92. “Are we talking about the same New York Times that devoted about two years of front page space to the Duke non-rape story, right up to the day before all charges were dropped?”

    It’s the same New York Times that devoted extensive coverage to Obama’s choice of dog and to Michelle’s wardrobe.

  93. STEVE RAPE EPISIARCH NEXT. STEVE NOT GO TO JAIL BECAUSE STEVE KNOW BIRD LAW. STEVE SMART.

  94. ACORN STEVE SMITH FRIEND! STEVE SMITH SAD NOW AROOOOOO ARROOOOOO

  95. “A ‘two-bit Rube Goldberg machine’? The nation’s biggest community organizing group, with an annual budget of $100 million, over 1,000 employees, and nearly 500,000 dues-paying members? I think you have an unusual definition of ‘two-bit.'”

    Definition of two-bit: Cheap and tawdry. I think my vocabulary is just fine, thank you. And really, the “rube goldberg machine” was supposed to be the meat of the description.

  96. Lamar:

    “RC Dean, respectfully, I’ve been reading up on ACORN since the election”

    Wow! You’ve been following this non-story that long? And yet managed to miss it entirely!

    “I guess my clients at various banks somehow missed it. I missed it when I did legal aid work in Harlem.”

    That’s what happens when you look for quarters under the nearest lamppost. Harlem is not exactly the hub of the ACORN universe. Maybe if you were looking under Congress and Fannie Mae, or adding up legal investigations, what passes as your nose for news might have picked up a scent. Maybe if you had started following the story before the election when ACORN’s acknowledged front group in New Orleans had to amend their FEC filing for flagrantly mischaracterizing the $800K they got from the Obama campaign, you’d have wondered why so many obvious red flags were left waving in the MSM wind.

  97. “Wow! You’ve been following this non-story that long? And yet managed to miss it entirely!”

    I read the stories, I didn’t see the real world incarnation of the powerful juggernaut people claimed it to be.

    The idea that NYC is not a major ACORN center would explain quite a bit, i.e., how I could read about it yet not see it in practice.

  98. Regardless of what you think about the actual importance of ACORN, this is a huge blow to the morale of the left. They had held up ACORN as a shining example, and now it’s blown up in their faces. So much so that I haven’t seen much excuse-making for ACORN on the part of the left. Their silence indicates how badly beaten-down they are.

    The Haggard scandal didn’t dishearten the theocons, so much as it damaged their credibility with others…

  99. “The story is only now beginning to catch fire among the news sources that we trust. As they offer stories that dissect ACORN, its activities, the origin of the controversy and the credibility of its principal antagonists, we will publish them.”

    Those trusties could have dissected ACORN long ago, and didn’t. That’s point, of course. When all hope was exhausted that any “other reporting approach” would be undertaken by the sources which do set Zipp’s agenda, it took two kids to gumshoe the story that the gatekeepers who gave Michael Jackson’s funeral wall-to-wall headlines, day after day, refused to recognize as legitimate news. When the same “local” story surfaces on both east and west coasts, it looks like Austin is right in the middle of it to me.

    If the MSM were peopled by more reporters and less “professional journalists,” they might not be struggling to keep themselves afloat. Apparently, they don’t plan to look at themselves in a mirror till they’ve exhausted all other efforts to deep six the competition with disdain.

  100. Steve Smith is of questionable importance to everyone except his victims.

    STEVE SMITH COME TO MATT WELCH OFFICE AND SMASH! SMASH!

    STEVE SMITH RAPE ACORN, THEN WELCH!

    I didn’t realize the drummer from Journey was such a menace.

  101. I didn’t realize the drummer from Journey was such a menace.

    You’d better believe it. And don’t stop believin’.

  102. [T]he Society of Professional Journalists has set a standard that deception should be used only when every other reporting approach has been exhausted

    I dunno. 60 Minutes used this technique to critical acclaim back when today’s 80-year-old correspondents were strapping, energetic 60-year-olds.

  103. Lamar,

    One thing about the ACORN deal is just how much it just make the traditional media red in the face. Sort of like how their coverage of the run up to the Iraq war should make them red in the face.

  104. “””I didn’t realize the drummer from Journey was such a menace.”””

    They do call him Steve “machine gun” Smith.

    Seriously.

  105. “If Barack Obama weren’t a “community organizer”, ACORN would have never become the center of right wing anger.”

    But I thought community organizer was the most important job in the history of the universe and the only real preparation for the job of president out there! Now you’re saying it’s not important?

  106. I didn’t realize the drummer from Journey was such a menace.

    Well he was at least a part of the menace to pop culture and musical taste that was Journey.

  107. You are as free as the next guy to disregard anything I post.

    Right back at ya.

    Am I in denial for thinking that ACORN is a two-bit rube goldberg machine, or are you in denial for thinking that an organization busted by kids in halloween costumes was a threat to something?

    The first one.

  108. Shut the fuck up, Lamar!

  109. Dean Baquet is upset because Beck is actually covering the news while Baquet is busy looking for every drop of Obama jizz so he can suck it down.

    Fuck that stupid bitch and fuck his existence.

  110. I heard that these two were bankrolled by a shady Mexican billionaire.

    Oh that’s Dean Baquet’s beloved Grey Lady of the Evening you say?

  111. BERTRAND RUSSELL SAID: “COOPERATION IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL REDEEM MANKIND.” AND COOPERATION IS A FORM OF LOVE. OKAY, THESE ACORN PEOPLE WERE, IN THIS SEVERE RECESSION WHERE MORE AND MORE FEMALES are TURNING TO PROSTITUTION TO MAKE ENDS MEET, TRYING TO HELP this LEWD-ICROUS Sacha Baron Cohenesque STINGY-WINGY. PEOPLE BORN IN THE GHETTO ARE EXPERIENCED IN TIGHT TIMES, TIGHT MONEY, AND THE “FAST LIFE,” THEY WERE BEING LOVING & HELPFUL WITH THEIR WISDOM OF THE STREETS. HEY, are you all mental!? – IT IS THE OLDEST PROFESSION!! WE WASPS (WASPS meaning BLUE COLLAR & PRIVILEGED) ONLY SHOW HOW NAIVE and stupid WE ARE BY BEING “AGHAST” AT THESE secret VIDEOS. AND DO NOT TELL ME HANNAH’S LITTLE POCKET-BOOK WAS NOT DANK PLAYING THIS ROLE. AND ANN COULTER (I LOVE HER MADLY, WANNA BE HER DADDY!), BUT do not tell me, Ann, your little MOTHER of SAINT PATRICK does not get kew-chewy as us red blooded American boys oggle your legs in those great minis and your fantastic MOMMIES thursting pertly thru your diaphanous gowns!!!!! HEY, LIGHTEN UP! LET US PLEASE DECRIMINLIZE HOOKING, TAX IT (A FEW TRIL per year), protect the females, and end the mockery!!!! FOR I AM A SUPER TRICK. GIRLS, I GOT YO $$$ RIGHT HERE ON MY SKULL & BONES MONEY CLIP! ELIOT SPITZER FOR PRESIDENT! Have guns will travel. -CHE GUEVERA aka DOUBLE-R-of-the-TRIPLE-BEAM!!

  112. They can dish it out, but they just can’t take it. They can’t have it both ways either…they wouldn’t stoop so low as to cover such a blatantly revealing piece about the Left, but they have to cover their tracks as to why they were scooped on the story by belittling it. History is riddled with overzealous newspaper editors that have told their reporters, “GO OUT AND GET THAT STORY”, and yet these two ambitious cub reporters are the only ones that could uncover this scandal?

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