Can the right-wing conduct a smear campaign, exaggerate and even falsify the problems with ACORN and can what has been alleged still be partially and even significantly true?
I think the answer is an obvious yes.
Columbia Journalism Review conducts the sort of debate between reporters Mark Bowden and Ken Silverstein that about 279 people in the entire country could care about i.e. is it proper to call the anti-ACORN sting video made by right-wing activists “journalism” or not? Like people are putting down their work and canceling medical appointments to ponder this Great Question. YAWN.
That said, I’m taking Silverstein’s side in this wearisome quarrel. What the EFF difference does it make if you call the video at the center of this story “journalism” or not ? The video is what it is. Part of it is doctored, for sure. Or at least, we find out, that it omits mention that in one ACORN office the faux pimp-ho duo at the heart of the sting got the cops called on them. Some good reporting uncovered that. And other reporting from the MSM, late in the game, provided even more missing context. So as CJR said, this was a story both over-hyped and simultaneously under-reported by “professionals.” Leave that kind of gap open and other folks are gonna step in.
As they did.
The makers of the viral video are right-wing activists with a pre-conceived agenda. But what we saw on their video — we saw. You can call it whatever you want. But it doesn’t un-ring the bell and –like it or not– that information flows into the great sea of content in which journalism, gossip. rumour, innuendo and advocacy are sometimes inextricably churned.
ACORN has some real and obvious problems. And after the kerfuffle around some of their (minor and exaggerated) voter reg irregularities during last year’s campaign, they should have been smart enough to do some real house-cleaning. No one should be making any excuses for what is the obvious corruption and malfeasance uncovered inside ACORN, regardless of the partisan methods employed to expose it nor the relative scope of the issue.
None of this means, by any stretch of the imagination, that this story hasn’t been blown completely out of proportion, that Democratic politicians have shown little mettle in clarifying whatever positive there is to say about ACORN, that Republicans pols have shamelessly and with a barely concealed hate-the-poor agenda inflated this story beyond all reason and that, in the end, ACORN is a tiny non-profit group that has a negligible effect on the national body politic. It’s a mosquito on an elephant’s rear.
And what a smelly rear that is. If half the time spent on stigmatizing ACORN was invested in investigating the multi-billion dollar racketeering of AIG, Goldman-Sachs and the complicity of laughing stocks like the SEC, we would be in a much better place.