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James O'Keefe's ACORN hoax in California
April 8, 2010 1:09 PM   Subscribe

With newly released video, Rachel Maddow shows that the Fox News/Breitbart/James O'Keefe takedown of ACORN in California was fraudulent. For example, coverage depicted ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera as eager to participate in a pedophile prostitution ring suggested by O'Keefe's character. In fact Vera had reported O'Keefe to police. Nevertheless, Vera was fired, and months later ACORN was dissolved. (Previously: 1, 2, 3)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (56 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why didn't ACORN immediately sue for slander? Wouldn't taking O'Keefe to trial allowed them to subpoena the full unedited footage?
posted by mullingitover at 1:13 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


fanny and freddie fanny and freddie acorn america freedom freedom socialism muslims
posted by lslelel at 1:15 PM on April 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


It's a single link to a blog post about a segment on a talk show about news reports about a youtube clip about an undercover camera stunt about ACORN. Weak.
posted by Slap Factory at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2010


Kind of a shame it comes out now. ACORN wasn't perfect, but it looked like it was doing good work. Right now, it kind of feels like we're doing CPR on a dead horse.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:18 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's OK, any moment now I'm sure we can expect a sincere and heartfelt public apology from Fox News, the tea party and Rush Limbaugh.
posted by contessa at 1:28 PM on April 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


Once again the right exploits the fact that accusations get much more coverage than later findings that they were untrue.
posted by callmejay at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2010 [29 favorites]


Weak.

How do you figure? The post contains the video of Maddow eviscerating the anti-ACORN footage, which was heavily edited to misrepresent what was going on, and FOX, for using the doctored footage for crass political purposes. Maddow takes 12 minutes to make her case -- which, in teevee time, is a lot. She shows extensive footage from the unedited tapes, demonstrating misrepresentations.

I'd say it's a solid post. Especially since the way things work now, you smear and smear and smear, and by the time the smear is discredited, it has already done its damage. I'd like to see the truth get as much mileage as a lie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2010 [43 favorites]


So that's two major crimes for Breitbart by my reckoning, and he hasn't even held an elected office yet. Impressive. This one's got a bright future ahead of him in the Good Old Plutocrats party.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Where have the unedited tapes been all this time?
posted by bearwife at 1:34 PM on April 8, 2010


Once again the right exploits the fact that accusations get much more coverage than later findings that they were untrue.

It's not really an exploit if the right is also the institution doing the coverage. More like a tactic.
posted by clarknova at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie:

I think he was making a reference to Maddow's Friday "News of the Weak" segment. But... yeah.
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2010


Where have the unedited tapes been all this time?

Seemingly with the California Attorney General's office. Not sure when they were subpoenaed.

Helping poor people and ethnic minorities* register to vote. No wonder there was a hit put out on ACORN.

--
*Although given demographic trends, "minority" might not be a useful shorthand for "non-white" much longer. Probably another reason ACORN got targeted.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:48 PM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Where have the unedited tapes been all this time?

I remember reading on TPM or somewhere that Breitbart was just withholding the unedited footage from release, while hand-waving and making vague claims about how it was even more incriminating than what had been released.

"I think he was making a reference to Maddow's Friday "News of the Weak" segment."

Wha--?

How do you possibly get that from reading this, lordrunningclam:

"It's a single link to a blog post about a segment on a talk show..."
posted by saulgoodman at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2010


How likely do you think it is that Rachel Maddow will be doing programs like this if Comcast is allowed to acquire NBC?

Considering that Ed Snider, the CEO of Comcast, invited Sarah Palin to drop the puck at one of the games of his hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, during the '08 campaign (she was booed).

Right-wing media aren't for-profit. They are for taking over the country.
posted by jamjam at 1:52 PM on April 8, 2010 [7 favorites]




In completely unrelated news: Rachel Maddow's Reaction To Being In People Magazine (w/ video).

I ♥ Rachel Maddow.
posted by ericb at 1:57 PM on April 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is one of those decisions made on incomplete information and a lot of public outcry (also based on incomplete information), whose goal was to make the decision-makers look like they were in control and knew what's going on, resulting in most everyone look dumb in the end.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:58 PM on April 8, 2010


Right-wing media aren't for-profit. They are for taking over the country.

...and then profit. (Same goes for "left-wing media", BTW. Can't I have my news reasonably slant-free?)
posted by Skeptic at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2010


saulgoodman:

Because I sometimes watch the show and that's the way the News of the Weak segment goes. Kent Jones describes something that somebody does followed by the sarcastic statement "Weak." My "but... yeah" was agreement with Astro Zombie's thesis, if that wasn't clear, not to reinforce the notion that this was a weak post.
posted by lordrunningclam at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2010


I remember reading on TPM or somewhere that Breitbart was just withholding the unedited footage from release, while hand-waving and making vague claims about how it was even more incriminating than what had been released.

Let me retract that: I thought I remembered this but can't find any confirmation, so I may be mistaken.

posted by saulgoodman at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2010


i see, lordrunningclam.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on April 8, 2010


One day I will write a novel with the words "i see, lordrunningclam" in it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:13 PM on April 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


Why didn't ACORN immediately sue for slander? Wouldn't taking O'Keefe to trial allowed them to subpoena the full unedited footage?

ACORN did, but then voluntarily dropped their suit against O'Keefe and Giles last month ("after the plaintiffs failed to serve the complaint on the defendants within Maryland’s 120-day limit."*).
posted by ericb at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2010


Right-wing media aren't for-profit. They are for taking over the country.

Same goes for "left-wing media", BTW....

Exactly what left-wing media are you referring to, Skeptic?

The only America-based example I can think of that's both left enough and popular enough to be worth talking about, Democracy Now, is orders of magnitude more fair and factual than Fox.
posted by jamjam at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


I like how CNN now is basically as bad as you might imagine FOX to be, if you'd not seen FOX.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on April 8, 2010 [28 favorites]


"Exactly what left-wing media are you referring to" Comedy Central???
posted by HuronBob at 2:23 PM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Considering that Ed Snider, the CEO of Comcast, invited Sarah Palin to drop the puck at one of the games of his hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, during the '08 campaign (she was booed).

To clarify, Ed Snider is not the CEO of Comcast. He's the Chairman of Comcast subsidiary Comcast-Spectacor, the owners and operators of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The only real media he is in charge of is Comcast Sportsnet, a network of regional sports channels.
posted by inturnaround at 2:33 PM on April 8, 2010


Fox News is vile and unprincipled. News at eleven.
posted by WalterMitty at 2:35 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


"left-wing media"

This is an excellent use of Sarcastiquote™ marks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually, one could argue that they're very principled about certain things, such as their complete lack of journalistic ethics as a means to their intended ends.
posted by WalterMitty at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2010






I like how CNN now is basically as bad as you might imagine FOX to be, if you'd not seen FOX.

That is the most perfect description of the situation that I've heard so far.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: Where have the unedited tapes been all this time?

Seemingly with the California Attorney General's office.


That's right. To me, the interesting aspect of this story is the timing. Jerry Brown, California's Attorney General, is running for Governor this year and is currently trailing slightly behind former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the polls. I'm sure he knew that releasing these tapes would get him some positive coverage in liberal circles, and he needs liberal turnout in November.
posted by joedan at 2:50 PM on April 8, 2010


It's a metafilter comment about a single link to a blog post about a segment on a talk show about news reports about a youtube clip about an undercover camera stunt about ACORN. Weaker yet.
posted by symbioid at 2:57 PM on April 8, 2010


Snippiness aside, I agree with the comment: why didn't they sue? If they knew the tapes were doctored, and what was presented made them look like criminals and/or assisting criminals, and their reputation has thus been slandered, and an organization misrepresented and destroyed, why not seek legal redress? ACORN then seems like the Democrats in Congress--turn tail and
and give in to Fox News and Friends.

Actually, something similar is going on now!!

The net is filled with videos of atrocities (alleged) done by our troops , resulting in the death of two Reuters journalists, and Wikileaks posted the videos...PajamasMedia, right of center group,denies this is an atrocity and that our troops are being wrongfully accused. I have at my site ( no URL given, as I am modest and not pushing my place) posted both the video, the counter charges, and additional materials dealing with this.

It is a complex world we live in, for sure.
posted by Postroad at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2010


Mainstream media in the USA is libertarian/finance-oriented right-wing, conservative social right-wing, and/or batshit-crazy right-wing. This is because mainstream media is top-down: the upper echelons decide what the news will be and what it will achieve. The internet, on the other hand, is bottom-up. The lower echelons (broadly speaking, us) share stuff of interest and discuss it, and the news emerges from this.

Lack of top-down left-wing media is one of the US's major social problems. There was a time when "broadsheeting", organized protest, and demagoguery of all kinds were left-wing tactics, before the left took up (or were fed and swallowed) feckless anti-authoritarianism as a policy platform. You know what happened to left-wing causes when the authoritarian left, rather than the libertarian left, were active? Strong unions, plaintiff's rights, social security, and lower inequality in income. That's what happened.

The modern right are not reluctant to tell people what they should think. The modern left, generally, are. Extremely so. They prefer that the people should simply be told the facts and then will make up their own minds, a process they themselves went through in order to become left-wingers, and it is a continual disappointment and surprise to them when people do not. This is what makes possible, even provokes, the sneering slur against "left-wing intellectual elites". It's true. The whispers of "think!" do not drown out the shouts of "DO!"

I am not suggesting that we--you--start telling lies. That's one of the benefits of being a liberal, rather than a conservative; one does not have to tell lies to advance one's cause. But this is just a smug little moral benefit, a reassurance of your morality to you, because in the context of advancing causes--as Beck, Limbaugh, Reagan, Palin, Coulter, Rove, et all have amply demonstrated--the truth or otherwise of public statements are largely irrelevant. What matters is that they are asserted and repeated. I am suggesting that this is what needs to be achieved, for real social change. The first step to winning a war is the realization that you are in one.

"Fox told lies about ACORN to stop black people voting." Succinct, memorable ... and for what it's worth (and do not overestimate what it's worth): true. "The Republicans will never stop abortion because you would stop voting for them." Condense the idea down to one simple sentence that directly punctures a lie or misconception: "Most teabaggers live off government welfare." "Medicare is socialized medicine." "The army is socialized defence." "'The government' means you and me." "You don't own a house, the bank owns you."

Sloganeering, yes. Sloganeering won government for Reagan and brought the Republicans to power and eventually led to the administration of George W Bush. Sloganeering from the right is what keeps you poor, weak, and desperate for a job to keep yourself fed and housed and vaguely healthy. Sloganeer them back.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2010 [55 favorites]


ABOUT SUING FOR SLANDER:

my impression is that ACORN is cleaning house before getting ready for a lawsuit. my understanding is that they've gotten rid of local chapters but kept the national offices exactly for that reason. but this is what am hearing in the political grapevine, so take it with a grain of salt.
posted by liza at 3:27 PM on April 8, 2010


Sometimes the good guys lose.
posted by fuq at 3:28 PM on April 8, 2010


Fox News is vile and unprincipled. News Uninformed opinion and unsubstantiated frothing at eleven.

FTFohkillmenow.
posted by aihal at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2010


This whole thing was absolutely heinous and I hope the grapevine chatter about a civil suit is true. Bob Cesca, my fave blogger, covered the Rachel Maddow segment the other day. I was stunned - I hadn't followed this story very closely because I never watch Faux News. What in the hell is wrong with people?
posted by PuppyCat at 4:02 PM on April 8, 2010


ACORN lost their money from Congress because of the charges. Congress is mostly controlled by the Democrats. What does that tell you?
posted by Postroad at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


That the Democrats in question want to stay in office, and guessed from the angry mobs and media hate campaign that voting any other way would severly reduce the chances of that?
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on April 8, 2010


Where have the unedited tapes been all this time?

Seemingly with the California Attorney General's office.

That's right. To me, the interesting aspect of this story is the timing.


Yes, the timing stuns me. What boggles my mind about this is that the edited tapes got all over the media. Why didn't anyone demand to see the whole of them first? Why didn't anyone make a public records demand from the California AG's office, if that's where they were? Why didn't anyone from ACORN point out that what was being shown was so truncated as to be untruthful? And they seriously couldn't get a lawsuit served either? Whaaaat?

Distortion from the right and left has been with us for ages, but the complete lack of fair coverage from anyone else is very disturbing.

posted by bearwife at 5:22 PM on April 8, 2010


Because Fox played the edited tapes, and then began hassling the other networks for "covering up" this huge "scoop."
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:29 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


One day I will write a novel with the words "i see, lordrunningclam" in it.

You'd need to give props to Philip K. Dick.
posted by lordrunningclam at 7:53 PM on April 8, 2010


I am also completely, ridiculously in lurve with Rachel Maddow. She has that wonderful quality which dogs possess [stay with me!] where you can see exactly how excited they are about what's going on around them. Like this interview with Michael Lewis, which is about a topic that's been hashed over for more than a year, but she's absolutely giddy to engage with him on it. She does her homework and usually approaches stories with infectious good spirits. But even when she's being deliberately acrid or mocking, she's positively gentle compared to her peers.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:41 PM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know I shouldn't be shocked at the sheer magnitude of a deception like this, and the degree to which mainstream media outlets and two political parties participated in it, but I am. I really, really am. This is as bad as Remember the Maine.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:41 PM on April 8, 2010


...to a blog post about a segment on a talk show about...

I'm not sure it's fair to call The Rachel Maddow Show a "talk show", per se. It's news commentary, perhaps, and they do interview guests, but it's not really Ellen or Oprah...
posted by hippybear at 10:31 PM on April 8, 2010


Too little too late.
posted by bardic at 11:42 PM on April 8, 2010


Right-wing media aren't for-profit. They are for taking over the country.

No way, no how. The only thing Rupert wants to take over is more media. Taking over the country might mean he's actually expected to do something with it. Rupert knows perfectly well that "you broke it, you fix it" is wired deeply into all of us, and he has absolutely no interest in being seen as the One Who Broke It by the general public; printers' unions he can crush, but losing his audience is something he will never risk.

Much more profitable to continue the present policy of drowning out anything resembling reasoned public discourse with a hurricane of furious, polarizing, sloganeering, partisan shouting. The more conflict you can create, the more spectacle you have that you can charge your advertisers for proximity to.

Media are absolutely for profit, and don't ever forget it as you consume what they sell.
posted by flabdablet at 2:38 AM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how CNN now is basically as bad as you might imagine FOX to be, if you'd not seen FOX.

And if FOX were even more incompetent than they are. I mean, Erick Son of Erick? CNN is rapidly becoming FOX's idiot twin. Bill Buckley famously wanted to be ruled by twenty names picked from a phone book. CNN may as well pick their new employees from freeper threads.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:54 AM on April 9, 2010


CNN's strategy seems to be that if you can't be innovative and popular, just do whatever it is the popular front-runner is doing.

FOX is loathsome to everyone except the massive number of viewers who tune in and make their ratings dwarf the rival news channels.
posted by crunchland at 1:18 PM on April 9, 2010



It seems truth is so easily smothered and hidden. I don't understand why. I don't understand how; I know, I know "Sloganeering".

Most of us have heard the verse "the truth shall set you free." I guess that was not necessarily meant in this life.
posted by Increase at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2010


I really wish sometimes that I lived in a world where Brill's Content was successful and Fox News went down in flames.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:18 AM on April 10, 2010




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