Published September 14, 2009
Bruce Springsteen once wrote: “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come).” I doubt he expected that story of love gone wrong would become ideal political commentary for the group known as ACORN.
The small scandal showing an embarrassing video of Baltimore ACORN staffers looking like they were giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel, is now national news. -- This story has everything you could ever want – corruption, sleazy actions at tax-funded organizations, firings, government ties, sex, hookers. It is a network news director’s dream. Imagine the ratings!
Only almost no one is covering it.
This is the news media in the era of Van Jones and President Obama. The major outlets cover what they want and create the themes they want. When they find something inconvenient, they let it pass. They didn’t like the Van Jones story, so they ignored it. The network news media liked the financial entity known as Fannie Mae, so they ignored that scandalous organization for years. ACORN is getting the same treatment.
But it isn’t working any more. The ACORN fiasco has now impacted three offices – Baltimore, Washington and New York – with laugh-out-loud videos reminiscent of the hookers and pimps from the 1970s “Starsky and Hutch” show. Huggy Bear returns! Four employees have been fired, with more likely to come. And the controversy was so laughably bad that the Census Bureau cut off all ties to the group known formally as the "Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." -- They called it the “tipping point” to shed themselves of ACORN. More nuts for someone else, I guess.
And yet. And yet it’s still been ignored by the network news. Nothing on ABC, CBS or NBC. The only thing any one of the three broadcast networks has done appeared in a blog post by ABC’s Jake Tapper. It's hardly worth noting except to show that the networks know about what’s going on. They just don’t care to report it. Only FOX News has bothered to report on the controversy.
The video scandal is only part of the fiasco that is this Saul Alinsky-esque community group. Just last week CNN reported that other ACORN employees were arrested in Florida. “Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for 11 Florida voter registration workers who are suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents,” said CNN.
That’s typical. The Web site "Rotten ACORN" is devoted to election fraud complaints against the organization. The site’s map shows 14 different states where complaints have been filed. The last time any one of the broadcast networks talked about that was before the 2008 presidential election. That was NBC on Nov. 1. Nothing since.
Yes, the newspapers have taken a passing glance at the video story. The Post wrote about the firings in D.C. The New York Times ran a story by the Associated Press. Nothing more. I am underwhelmed. At least the Times covered it this time. With Jones, the Times waited until he had resigned to report he was under fire.
What’s worse with ACORN is that we’re paying for all this. At least in part. The Washington Examiner writes that they “found that ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal money since 1994.”
For its own part, ACORN naturally blamed someone else. In this case, FOX News, calling itself “their Willy Horton for 2009.” The ACORN state reads like a paranoid’s interpretation of the videos. Here’s Bertha Lewis, Chief Organizer, for the group:
“The relentless attacks on ACORN's members, its staff and the policies and positions we promote are unprecedented. An international entertainment conglomerate, disguising itself as a ‘news’ agency (FOX), has expended millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, in their attempt to destroy the largest community organization of Black, Latino, poor and working families in the country. It is not coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction. It is clear they've had these tapes for months.”
Yeah, all that about under-aged prostitution, corruption and government connections isn’t news. People are just out to get ACORN. No wonder their name symbolizes a kind of nut. Too bad the rest of the media don’t want us to know that.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The FOX Forum and he can be seen on FOXNews.com’s “Strategy Room.”