Fox Nation vs. Reality: Here’s How To Fear Monger About ACORN

After all these years, the right’s fixation on ACORN is still burning with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns – with an emphasis on the white.

Fox Nation

The chronic liars at Fox Nation posted an item that purported to quote Bertha Lewis, the former head of ACORN, as giving advice on “How To Put ‘Fear’ In The ‘White Man’.” However, Lewis did not say what the Fox Nationalists attributed to her. In fact, the text below the headline on Fox Nation proved the blatant misrepresentation by quoting Lewis in full. Her remarks to a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus were merely a call for the African-American community to support immigration reform.

Lewis: For the first time ever in history, African-Americans outvoted white Americans. Oooh. That’s the fear of the white man. That could change everything. That’s why [immigration] should matter to us.

Lewis was plainly stating her opinion that engaged minority voters are something that already brings fear to white politicians and strategists. She was not in any way advocating the use of fear to intimidate whites or any political opponent. Yet that is precisely the false inference that Fox put forth with the mutilated quote they posted.

To the contrary, Lewis was simply noting that Republicans are already running scared. That is unarguably true, as evidenced by the extreme steps Republicans have taken to suppress voting by minorities and to redistrict them out of existence. Lewis noted that in a few years America will be a majority-minority nation, and that frightens the GOP. Even Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said much the same thing in an election postmortem following their 2012 defeat:

Priebus: I didn’t need a report to tell me that we have to make up ground with minority groups […] By 2050, we’ll be a majority-minority country, and in both 2008 and 2012, President Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority groups.

The GOP has an ongoing obsession with ACORN, an organization that was dedicated to advancing minority participation in the democratic process. It was that focus on equal rights that made ACORN a target of conservatives in the first place. And despite the fact that it doesn’t exist anymore, and that multiple investigations never found any evidence of wrongdoing, the right continues to be preoccupied with its ghost. So much so that they disseminate fake quotations in order to make them look scary and dangerous.

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This is a tactic that will only serve to further alienate the constituencies that will eventually dominate the electorate. Even while the GOP recognizes the need to reach out to minorities, their actions prove that they really aren’t the least bit interested in including them in the American family. They would rather continue insulting and excluding them. Nice work, GOP. Let’s see how that works out for you in 2014 and 2016 and beyond.

The Fox Nation Knowingly Lies About ACORN Chief Visiting The White House

Starting the new year off right (extremely far-right), the folks at the Fox Nation are featuring as one of their top stories a report that is completely false. In other words, they appear to be entering 2010 doing exactly what they have done since their inception a few months ago. On this occasion, however, the truth is so readily available that you have to conclude that they have just given up entirely on even pretending to associate themselves with the news business. This is their web page topping scoop:

Accompanying a headline that declares: ACORN CEO Visited White House Week Before Scandal Broke, the Fox Nationalists posted a picture of Bertha Lewis and linked to a story about her sojourn to the President’s abode. The only problem with the story is that none of it is true. Other than that, it’s a world-class expose.

The source for this fake news is Andrew Breitbart’s notoriously untrustworthy BigGovernment site. Their columnist, identified only as Publius, writes that the name Bertha E. Lewis appears on a White House visitor’s log. So far so good. And there is a Bertha Lewis who is the CEO of ACORN. Hmm, maybe they’re on to something. Maybe not. As it turns out, the visitor to the White House is not the same person as the ACORN chief. This fact was readily apparent to anyone who bothered to call and ask either the White House or ACORN, which neither BigGovernment nor Fox bothered to do. Even without calling it would have been obvious that these were different people because ACORN’s Lewis had a middle initial of “M” (for Mae), not “E.” But checking facts has never been a strong suit for Fox and its affiliates.

What makes this negligence even more extraordinary is the fact that this is not the first time that Fox has fumbled with easily verified facts concerning White House guests. A couple of months ago Fox reported that Jeremiah Wright, Michael Moore, and William Ayers had all visited the White House. Of course those were all people who merely had the same names as the more famous persons who Fox implied were actually White House visitors. Yet even after making that embarrassing mistake, Fox now repeats the error with Bertha Lewis.

But it gets even worse. The article on BigGovernment snidely acknowledged that this might be a case of mistaken identity saying…

“Of course, it is possible that this isn’t ACORN’s Bertha Lewis. […] Sure, possible, but we’d love to see a bookie’s odds on that.”

That is at best a marginal disclaimer that ends up contradicting itself. But at least they slipped in a mention of the possibility that this was a different Lewis before opining (without checking) that it was not. However, Fox’s headline story not only made a declarative statement that it was ACORN’s Lewis, they also cut out BigGovernment’s half-hearted disclaimer from their otherwise verbatim version of the story. That’s right. The Fox Nationalists reprinted the bulk of the article but deliberately left out the bit that acknowledged that it may not be true. And then they let stand their false, stated-as-fact headline even though they knew that it was, at the very least, unverified.

Another year, another pile of lies from Fox and Rupert Murdoch’s devotedly dishonest anti-news enterprise.

Update (1/4/10): Days after this story was debunked, Gretchen Carlson ran with it on Fox & Friends. The truth really doesn’t matter to these sleazeballs. They’ve got lies to disseminate.

Study: ACORN Did Nothing Illegal – Fox News: So What?

Fox News Borat/ACORNLast summer Fox News participated in a media frenzy surrounding some sensationalistic videos produced by conservative activists and promoted by right-wing propaganda outlets. The ACORN representatives in the videos appeared to counsel a couple of cartoonish characters posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to apply for loans without disclosing the nefarious nature of their pretend business.

The subsequent controversy led to ACORN initiating an independent review to ascertain the facts and to propose solutions. To that end they retained former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger to conduct a thorough investigation. The results of the investigation were released last week (pdf) and revealed that…

“While some of the advice and counsel given by ACORN employees and volunteers was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional, we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff; in fact, there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers. Instead, the videos represent the byproduct of ACORN’s longstanding management weaknesses, including a lack of training, a lack of procedures, and a lack of on-site supervision.”

Harshbarger pulled no punches in his condemnation of ACORN’s failings. While he found that there was no unlawful conduct, this was no vindication. There was much about which to be embarrassed. Reporting on the study’s release could have justifiably focused on that aspect. However, Fox News and its affiliates chose instead to virtually ignore the matter. It was reported on the air with the typical Fox slant, and there was a single story on their web site and another on Fox Nation. Also, Glenn Beck did a segment on it that focused more on how it tied into the carnival of unrelated conspiracy delusions that occupy his so-called brain. Then it vanished.

What makes this peculiar is that Fox was wall-to-wall ACORN for several weeks when the videos were released. You couldn’t turn the network on without seeing a report or a replay of clips from the Borat News Team. On one day in September, the Fox Nation posted sixteen separate stories on their web site – all with disparaging viewpoints. This past week the Fox Nationalists had a single story on the report and another on Acorn-shaped cookies at a White House dinner (I’m not sure that counts).

Now that a study is released that actually delves into the factual details of the affair, Fox has gone silent after an obligatory wave. And when they did address the issue, it was with their typical sneering disdain. The Fox News account of the study’s results was something less than “fair and balanced.” While they did include excerpts from statements released by Harshbarger and ACORN CEO, Bertha Lewis, they interviewed no one from the ACORN side of the story. On the other hand, Fox did do interviews with James O’Keefe, the videographer, Republican senator Lamar Smith, and a spokesman for Republican congressman Darrel Issa. All of these critics dismissed the study despite not even bothering to dispute any of its findings.

The findings, by the way, also revealed some notable information about the folks who brought the story to Fox. For instance, efforts by Harshbarger to interview O’Keefe and his hooker/partner Hannah Giles were rebuffed. It should be noted that O’Keefe and Giles have declined EVERY interview request that didn’t come from Fox News, or an otherwise similarly prejudiced venue, since this story went public. They are being kept in a hermetically sealed, undisclosed location. Also, the punking pair and their patron, Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment, refused to make the unedited videos available to Harshbarger for review. Thus, preserving the producers intent to deceive, as well as to assure that any exculpatory material was edited out of the tapes before anyone could see them. However, Harshbarger was still able to establish that the videos were materially altered prior to broadcast:

“The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.”

The release of this report may not absolve ACORN for acts that were improper by the people captured on video, but it demonstrates another incidence of their being tarred with allegations of illegality that are unproven and irresponsible. ACORN has been the victim of repeated smears related to voter fraud when there has never been a single case of it documented. Another news item this week reported that congressional efforts to defund ACORN were ruled unconstitutional.

Most of these relentless attacks against ACORN are motivated by right-wing politicians and organizations with a vested interest in suppressing low and middle income voters. These are the citizens that ACORN serves and conservatives recognize that empowering them will be adverse to their agenda of advancing the interests of the wealthy and powerful. That’s why so many attempts have been made to undermine and discredit ACORN’s operations. And despite the fact that all of the allegations against ACORN have so far been thoroughly debunked, we can expect the harassment to continue.

We can also expect the reporting from Fox to continue to be brazenly one-sided. They will plaster their air with unverified allegations that harm the interests of ordinary Americans, and they will look the other way when there is positive news about them and the groups that are their advocates. How can we expect Fox to be impartial when they actually partnered with Giles to raise money for her defense?

The Harshbarger report proves not only that ACORN is not guilty of breaking the law, it also proves that conservative media like Fox IS guilty of suppressing the truth.

The Pimp Show: Exclusively On Fox News

It should surprise no one that Fox News is hammering the ACORN affair with characteristic rightist zeal. They have featured the story across their media platforms on TV, radio, print, and the Internet, almost to the exclusion of all other news. Watching Fox would leave one with the impression that ACORN and a police car chase were the only stories available to tell. Fox News’ hooker and pimp show, starring Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, has virtually taken over the schedule.

But the so-called “fair and balanced” network is demonstrating how inapt their slogan is and how transparently they manipulate what they call news.

ACORN’s CEO, Bertha Lewis, has been making the media rounds the past couple of days to rebut the charges against the organization. While taking responsibility for their shortcomings, she has announced that they will be conducting an independent review to uncover any and all misbehavior and will let the chips fall where they may. In addition, she has aggressively defended ACORN’s mission to increase voter registration and their work on behalf of low income citizens who are seeking assistance with housing.

Lewis’ appearances have raised important questions about the attacks on ACORN. For instance, the raw, unedited tapes are still being withheld from independent reviewers. This brings into question whether they were altered to intentionally create a false impression. Also, O’Keefe has steadfastly refused to turn over the tapes from dozens of their stings where they were thrown out of the ACORN office. This is deliberate deception intended to disguise the fact that, by far, the majority of ACORN employees are honest and moral.

These questions remain unanswered despite Lewis’ having raised them during interviews with journalists across the dial. She has submitted to multiple inquiries from the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Ed Schultz, Rick Sanchez, and others, on all of the cable news networks without regard to ideology. By contrast, O’Keefe and Giles have refused all interviews except for those on Fox News. They have already appeared on Hannity, Beck, Fox & Friends, and America’s News HQ. All Fox programs. The other news networks have standing requests for them to appear but, so far, none have been accepted. What do you think they are afraid of? They clearly have time available for the media, so long as it’s the friendly variety that will embrace them in a protective cocoon.

Obviously O’Keefe and Giles are either afraid, unprepared, or they are not being permitted to stray from the santcuary of Fox by their handlers. They refer to themselves as journalists, and O’Keefe went further describing himself as “the future of journalism” and told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that:

“The tone of my videos is unique. I’m not just reporting on something, I’m becoming something I’m reporting on.”

So he’s becoming a pimp? That would explain his association with Fox News. But if O’Keefe and Giles are unwilling to have their work be reviewed for accuracy, and they can’t defend themselves in independent forums, then how can they pretend that they are journalists? How can anything they report be regarded as credible?

How are they different than Borat?