By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2010, 11:44am PT  

From Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation last Monday on "The Rightwing Witch Hunt Against ACORN":

After 18 months of screaming headlines and attacks vilifying the anti-poverty group ACORN --- attacks reminiscent of a New McCarthyism that threatened the group's very existence --- it's clear now that this was a right-wing witch-hunt which, sadly, too many Democrats and the mainstream media failed to fact-check.
Fox and tabloids like the New York Post did a hatchet-job on ACORN that too many in the mainstream media were eager to run with. It seems to me those outlets have a special obligation to now step up and tell the full story. Also, contact New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander, and other major newspapers. Tell them their publications should run front-page retrospectives on the ACORN story--how and why the media and politicians got it wrong and what the consequences have been to ACORN.

From Detroit's Metro Times last Wednesday in "Pimps, weasels and ACORN: The truth is slowly catching up with the smears":

[T]his deception wore the winged sandals of Mercury while the truth got bogged down in cement overshoes.
But getting that truth out isn't easy when the lie is so much juicier. Just ask Brad Friedman, who has been all over the issue at his website, Friedman has been mounting a campaign aimed at getting the nation's paper of record, The New York Times, to publish a correction and admit it was wrong when reporting that O'Keefe actually went into ACORN offices dressed as a pimp. On his site, Friedman posts an e-mail exchange he's been having with Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the Times.

Both of those two articles merit reading in full, along with a number of others published elsewhere of late, which follow up on The BRAD BLOG's weeks-long focus on exposing the Rightwing cult's ACORN "Pimp" Hoax and the corporate media outlets and public officials who shamefully fell for it. We've been too busy working on the exposé itself to keep you apprised of much of the coverage of it elsewhere, but there's been quite a bit, so let's try to put that right and get caught up on some of the more noteworthy pieces...

Earlier in our coverage, in two separate articles (here and then here) we covered some of the condemnation of the New York Times from various corners of the blogosphere after we'd posted the extraordinarily embarrassing emails from NYTimes Public Editor Clark Hoyt in which he offered his jaw-dropping rationalizations for not recommending corrections to the paper's damagingly and demonstrably inaccurate coverage of the entire partisan anti-ACORN propaganda scam.

In addition to calls for Hoyt to step down in the wake of his indefensible defense of the paper's journalistic malpractice, Hoyt's comments and positions have since been lampooned in a comic strip, satirized by Stephen Colbert in a spoof of O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart's quickly unraveling scam, and ACORN themselves launched an aggressive campaign to demand accountability from the Times and dozens of other corporate mainstream media outlets which have long misreported the story and have still failed to issue corrections.

Last week, the decades-old media watchdog organization, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), issued a blistering condemnation of Hoyt and the Times, declaring their coverage to have been "wildly misleading" and calling on readers to "Encourage New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt to recommend that the paper investigate the ACORN videos and produce a report that clarifies the record." (We offer the same encouragement. Hoyt can be reached at

As the O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart hoax was all but decimated the week before last by the Kings County, NY District Attorney's office which ended a five-month probe declaring they'd found "no criminality" in the propagandist's Brooklyn ACORN videos --- which law enforcement officials described as a "'highly edited' splice job" and "edited to meet their agenda" --- traction for covering the O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart ACORN "Pimp" Hoax in both the blogosphere and the alternative media has continued to grow.

Here's some of the more noteworthy coverage which we haven't had time to cover previously, in addition to the pieces from The Nation and from Metro Times that we opened with...

John Tomasic at the Colorado Independent offers us "The ACORN Scandal Then and Now" with a rather hilarious "flashback" to just last December when Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was quoted in The Hill, declaring the groundbreaking significance of O'Keefe/Giles/Breitbart's stunning revelations (with a straight face, we'll presume):

"It's thousands of times bigger than Watergate because Watergate was only a little break-in by a couple of guys," said King. "By the time we pull ACORN out by its roots America's going to understand just how big this is."

The House Judiciary Committee member described the ACORN saga as "the largest corruption crisis in the history of America."

Mike Madden at Salon notes his own recent experiences with Breitbart...

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon getting shrieked at by Andrew Breitbart when I dared ask him a few skeptical questions about his self-proclaimed exposé of ACORN. It doesn't matter how the "investigation" was conducted, Breitbart insisted --- what matters is that ACORN aided and abetted a child prostitution ring. (Which it didn't.)

These days, Breitbart may not be enjoying himself quite so much.

...before highlighting our exclusive video interview with Breitbart which we produced with Mike Stark of in which Breitbart seems to claim ignorance of O'Keefe's original splice-job "pimp" scam, throw him under the bus, and finally flip-flop from his previous assertions that the O'Keefe/Giles ACORN videos were Pulitzer-worthy by comparing them now, instead, to Borat:

Now, it turns out, Breitbart hadn't even seen the full tapes when he put O'Keefe's handiwork up on his site.
The ACORN videos, now that people have had a chance to look into their claims, are starting to fall apart. (Which may be why Breitbart still won't release the full, unedited videos.)
But the more scrutiny the videos get, the less they seem to show. Comparing them to Sasha Baron-Cohen's work, of course, doesn't do them any favors, since no one has ever pretended "Borat" was a crusading work of journalism.
Meanwhile, if he was telling Stark the truth, he didn't even follow his own advice to look into the scandal carefully. Now he's cutting O'Keefe loose, insisting over and over again that he was just an "independent film producer".

For the record, here again is that video, if you missed it when we originally published it:

Media Matters' Eric Boehlert once again covered the ACORN "pimp" scam by covering the same manic Breitbart video Madden mentions, and as embedded above. Boehlert starkly declared, in response in his headline: "Breitbart confirms he was duped by O'Keefe and the ACORN pimp hoax".

Boehlert deserves special recognition for jumping in early on this story --- and actual advancing it several times along the way --- as we first started covering it here. His recent column raises several very important points that I'd like to expound upon in a future article. So for now we'll just leave it here, with the strong recommendation to go read his piece.

Steve Schneider at Orlando Weekly covers the "Pimp" Scam by a somewhat circuitous route, in an article about film-critic Roger Ebert, who has lost his voice due to cancer, but is now Twittering away like a mad man on important cultural and political issues. Our coverage of the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax being one of those issues that has caught Ebert's interest and ire...

Of late, he’s been courageously taking on “populist” race-baiting. Just yesterday, he tweeted the under-reported story that the Brooklyn District Attorney had found no criminal activity on the part of community-advocacy group ACORN; an unnamed law-enforcement official commented that sting videographers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles had edited the footage of their interviews with ACORN staffers “to meet their agenda.” As has been even less widely disseminated, O’Keefe hadn’t even worn his notorious “pimp” getup to those interviews, the doctored footage of which caused the essential decimation of an organization that had committed the unpardonable sin of trying to help nonwhites vote.

An unbylined editorial at The Boston Pheonix, another alt-weekly, offers an impolitic-if-hard-to-disagree-with editorial graphic by Buddy Duncan on the issue, along with their editorial asking aptly, "Where's the outrage?":

Now comes the news that the ACORN video was — not to put too fine a point on it — a malicious manufacture, a hoax, a deception, a vicious pack of lies.
Where is the media and political anger at being duped by the pimp, James O'Keefe...Perhaps most important of all, where is censure for Andrew Breitbart, the conservative media manipulator who sponsored O'Keefe's adventure — and even suggested at one point that O'Keefe should win a Pulitzer Prize for something or other?
ACORN, by the way, is an acronym for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
"Reform now" — there is an idea the media big boys and girls should keep in mind when the right-wing attack machine prepares its next assault.

Jamison Foser at Media Matters covers the broader absurdity of the corporate media tortured backflips in trying to ensure coverage of more rightwing propaganda and hoaxes, rather than less:

For a few weeks last fall, editors and ombudsmen at The Washington Post and New York Times seemed obsessed with the idea that they should be paying more attention to right-wing media and websites. In the wake of some wildly hyperbolic claims about ACORN, the nation's leading news outlets apologized for being too slow to run chasing after every "scandal" ginned up by Andrew Breitbart, Glenn Beck, and their ilk.
The hand-wringing at the Post and the Times about being insufficiently attuned to conservative arguments should ring false to any fair-minded person who remembers the role those papers played in the relentless hyping of Clinton-era non-scandals, their heavily slanted coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, or their disastrously inadequate coverage of the Bush administration's march to war.
Remember: Times public editor Clark Hoyt criticized his paper for not covering that [now-discredited O'Keefe] Brooklyn [ACORN] tape. And he complained that the paper's coverage of the ACORN allegations focused too much on the political motives of the accusers. Think maybe he'd like to have that one back?

• And finally, the great Digby at Hullaballoo rings in again yesterday to excoriate the Times and ask the question that can no longer be avoided:

This isn't just about O'Keefe and Giles misrepresenting how they looked when they went into those offices. They misrepresented what they said and what the ACORN workers were responding to. There's no excuse for the Times refusing to acknowledge this and at this point, the Times' refusal to acknowledge how badly they handled this story is a scandal in itself.

Perhaps we should begin to ask whether or not the press isn't questioning the right wing noise machine's propaganda simply because they agree with it?

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POST-SCRIPT: I had originally planned to cover the coverage from both the non-Right and the Right. After finishing up with the non-Right (as seen above) and getting about two-thirds of the way through dissection of the wingnuttery and apologia on the Right, I became exhausted, the article became way too long, and I decided instead to revisit covering the wingnut apologist/denialist coverage on another day...if I determine that its ultimate worth both my time and yours to do so.

In truth, they've really all just become crazy, not-serious, ideological partisan propagandists who put party and partisan politics before country, Constitution and truth. All of them. But you knew that.

It's really a shame, since serious-minded, legitimate, credible opposition is needed in this nation, and none actually exists anymore. None. At least not within the confines of what is regarded as the "mainstream" where, nonetheless, the wingnuts and whackjobs are treated as legitimate.

I still hope to cover the wingnut coverage --- if I can find time in what will be a busy week ahead for me in the "off-grid world" --- if only to demonstrate (yet again) the complete moral bankruptcy of the liars, unapologetic scoundrels, and intellectually dishonest cultists and zombies who the New York Times and others in the corporate media have shamefully elevated to legitimacy by granting serious coverage to unserious people.

If I'm able to find any actual credible opposition to our ACORN "Pimp" Hoax exposé series (whether I concur with the criticism or not), I'll do my best to cover that immediately. So far, however, those pickin's are mighty slim --- and actually none, to the best of my knowledge.

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