EDITOR’S NOTE: Footage from Wednesday’s press conference at the National Press Club wherein conservative muckraker Andre Breitbart, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles attempt to expose ACORN’s ‘lies’ about what happened in the Philadelphia office. Blogger Mike Stark let’s the air out of their balloon with the three simple questions any responsible reporter should have asked by now — and that includes you, Stu Bykofsky.
MEDIA MATTERS: Following the release of what Fox News itself called “heavily edited tape” of conservative James O’Keefe’s visit to a Philadelphia ACORN office, Fox News ran captions stating, “Exposing ACORN: New Video Shows Unlawful Actions.” In fact, in the heavily edited video, there is no evidence of any ACORN worker engaged in any “unlawful actions,” and moreover, ACORN workers filed an incident report with Philadelphia police following O’Keefe’s visit. MORE
HUFFINGTON POST: The truth is that O’Keefe never wore the pimp outfit into an ACORN office. Instead, he posed as a candidate for Congress that wanted to help a young woman caught in the trappings of prostitution. Supposedly, he wanted to help her, and her fellow prostitutes, escape the clutches of a brutal pimp by finding a place for them to live. Look, the ACORN personnel aren’t blameless. Some did and said some pretty stupid things and deserved to be fired. But the world in which they work is vastly different from the world most readers of this blog post recognize. CNN, Desperate Housewives, even The Wire aren’t going to begin to convey the social chaos that defines the neighborhoods ACORN often serves. […] Why does O’Keefe dress up in the ridiculous pimp garb for the bumpers of the video when he didn’t wear that costume into the ACORN offices? Why is Breitbart attaching his name and credibility to someone that was kicked out of his Rutgers dorm for refusing to cease his use of racial slurs? Exactly why would Breitbart expect an ACORN staffer to call the police on a Congressional candidate trying to rescue a young prostitute from her vicious pimp? MORE
PREVIOUSLY: The Nutcracker Strikes Back!
PW: Fox devoted 17 segments on six programs— Fox & Friends; America’s Newsroom; Happening Now; Live Desk; Glenn Beck; and Special Report —to the ACORN gotcha footage, which soon went viral on the Internet. Eventually the scandalous story migrated to the more centrist precincts of mainstream media and soon even the reality-based community of the great American middle was in on the joke.
The fallout was almost immediate: The U.S. Census Bureau announced it was severing ties with ACORN, as did the IRS, which had previously partnered with the organization to provide free tax preparation services for the poor. The House of Representatives voted 345-75 to defund ACORN. Smelling blood in the water, Republicans went on the warpath and Democrats ran for cover—including Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Rep. Joe Sestak, two democrats whose districts include Philadelphia, who voted to defund. Bank of America, whose partnership with ACORN Housing began in 1990 and helped make 55,000 low-income people first-time homeowners, announced that it too was severing ties with ACORN. Even President Obama, who once provided legal representation to a coalition that included ACORN in a case regarding enforcement of Illinois’ National Voter Registration Act, called for an investigation into the grassroots group.
With little more than a reported $1300, grandma’s fur coat, a micro mini-skirt, a few leading questions, a lot of nerve and a hidden camera, O’Keefe and Giles did what the Bush White House, Karl Rove, the Gonzalez-era Justice Department, a dozen federal prosecutors, Fox News, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and the entire right wing blogosphere had been trying unsuccessfully to do for years: drop a poison pill in the Olympic-sized pool of good deeds ACORN has done for the poor and the disenfranchised in the course of its nearly 40-year history. According to the political Geiger counters of every partisan stripe, ACORN was officially radioactive. MORE
MIKE STARK: This question really puts the lie to the entire operation… I asked, “If ACORN drops all of its lawsuits, would you be willing to release every second of unedited footage?” Brietbart dodged, saying he’s released transcripts and audio. He wouldn’t say he’d release the video. I wonder why they wouldn’t jump at the chance to climb out from under the expensive lawsuits. If all that was required was releasing these damning tapes without editing them, well… If all we want is the truth… Won’t it be found in its most pure state on the unedited films? And these poor souls are laboring under the cloud of litigation – some of it criminal… Why not expose ACORN and escape the lawsuits? They must be very attached to their editing process. MORE
JAMES O’KEEFE: “My freshman year of college I was placed in a triple room on the second floor of Campbell. One of my roomates (sic) was gay. The other was just bizarre. Two months in I volunteered to leave and was put on an all-black, floor, the Paul Robeson floor, on Mettler 3 in November. I was placed with, no joke, an Indian midget named “Hashish” who smelled like shit. Then he transfered (sic). I had a single. For the month of January, I never left my room. Then on Valentines day (sic), the one year anniversary of James/Arielle, in came a greek kid named Paul. Paul was an absolute nightmare. Then, to my horror, he actually said to the all-black RAs that I called everyone on the floor “niggers.” – a complete lie. It was my word against his. I was lead out of the room crying and screaming at him and my situation, no friends, no one one (sic) to talk to., forced to go in front of a black man, Dean Tolbert, to defend myself and help explain that I did not call anyone any names.” MORE