Employees at no fewer than four ACORN offices have been caught on videotape advising a man and a woman on how to skirt federal law to obtain housing and operate a brothel — but you'd hardly know it if all you watch and read are the mainstream media, conservative media critics say.
"A major national scandal and none of the broadcast networks is covering it," said Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center. "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."
A search of transcripts through Monday at NBC, CBS and MSNBC revealed no national TV coverage of the growing ACORN scandal. CNN and ABC, meanwhile, have run some segments on the matter, including a quick mention during Saturday's "Good Morning America."
At ABCNews.com, White House correspondent Jake Tapper filed an original story late Friday when the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would be severing ties with the community organization, but the Web site relied on Associated Press reporting for four related stories.
Evening news anchor Charlie Gibson wasn't even familiar enough with the story to discuss it on a radio show Tuesday morning.
CNN.com entered the fray on Thursday when the first video surfaced from ACORN's office in Baltimore. Since that story, the Web site has not run a follow-up report.
"[Major outlets] didn't like the Van Jones story, so they ignored it," Gainor said, referring to Obama's "Green Jobs" czar who stepped down after his radical past was revealed. "ACORN is getting the same preferential treatment."
USA Today first covered the story on Friday, relying on wire copy from the Associated Press for the Census Bureau announcement.
The New York Times also ran Associated Press stories beginning on Saturday with news of the Census Bureau's severing its ties with ACORN, followed by two stories on Monday regarding the Senate's decision to deny funds to the group and news of ACORN staffers in New York being secretly videotaped. Like USA Today, the New York Times relied on the Associated Press in reporting those three stories.
The Washington Post ran two original stories beginning on Saturday, when two ACORN workers were fired a day after a video surfaced showed them advising independent filmmaker James O'Keefe, posing as a pimp, and his partner Hannah Giles, posing as a prostitute, how to purchase a home to use as a brothel. The Post did original reporting on the Senate vote and also ran related Associated Press and Reuters versions.
FOX News began covering the ACORN videotapes on Thursday, when it reported that O'Keefe and Giles were given advice in skirting the law at ACORN's offices in Baltimore. FOX News ran a story about a similar videotaping in Washington on, D.C., on Friday, and in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday. FOXNews.com ran multiple sidebars with each story.
Malcolm Klein, executive director of Accuracy in Academia, a sister organization to Accuracy in Media, said he was stunned the scandal began with two amateur journalists.
"It's just remarkable that these two twentysomethings with not even journeyman experience managed to put this together and do this when everyone else has failed," Klein told FOXNews.com. "This is the kind of thing '60 Minutes' does, but they haven’t. Certainly it's within the budget of the New York Times, the Washington Post or anyone you’d care to name."
Klein said he was curious about the lack of coverage.
"With all the news media we have down here, the same five stories get covered 5 million times," said Klein, who is based in Washington. "In the meantime, you have many more stories affecting people domestically and internationally that just get ignored."
Officials at Media Matters for America, a liberal-leaning media watchdog group, declined to comment, citing not "enough information" on the matter.
Media critic Howard Kurtz, a columnist for the Washington Post, briefly wrote on the topic on Monday while answering a reader's letter.
"Just as you point out that the MSM ignored the Van Jones story, so it now seems the same is happening with the series videotapes in which ACORN workers advise clients on how to successfully break various laws, a story being carried only by FOX," read a letter from Howard in Baltimore. "If something is on FOX first, does that automatically make it anathema for the MSM lest they be thought to [be] anti-Obama?"
Kurtz replied, "Fox has certainly pumped it up, but I saw that ACORN story on CNN as well, and also in The Washington Post."