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September 14, 2009

NY TimesWatch: If An ACORN Falls In The Forest...

...and most of the MSM pretend they didn't hear it, does it still make a sound?

Here's the Saturday morning round-up on the Census Bureau story for the formerly mainstream media, checking out their home Web pages:

Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, CBS News, CNN Sucks -- story isn't there. WashPost did run a piece about the Big Government expose' in DC.

MSNBC, to its credit, posted a link to an AP version of the story near the top of their homepage. Some of the others above have the AP story too, but they don't headline it on their homepages. This is significant because all the major news organizations have an auto-feed of wire service stories to their sites -- MSNBC just took the trouble to link it from their homepage.

Interestingly, a third ACORN video sting has now surfaced - this time in NYC. So what reason did the Associated Press give for the Census Bureau's decision to sever ties with ACORN last Friday?

Republicans had become increasingly critical of the bureau’s ties with Acorn.

Some members of the group, which conducted an extensive voter registration effort last year, were accused of submitting false registration forms with names like Mickey Mouse.

Acorn has said only a handful of employees submitted false forms and did so in a bid to increase their pay.

Perhaps this information was not available yet? No, that's not it. That same day, ABC's Jake Tapper reported a far different cause for the Census Bureau's decision:

Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said officials in the bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce, had been concerned with news reports about ACORN for awhile and [unlike our astonishingly incurious press corps] “had been monitoring them.”

Buckner said recent videotapes posted on BigGovernment.com and broadcast on Fox News -- showing a young man and young woman pretending to be a pimp and prostitute, declaring themselves such and apparently able to secure the help of ACORN employees in Washington D.C. , and Baltimore, in obtaining housing – was “the tipping point.

Given that Tapper reported the link on Friday and even the U.K. based Telegraph has somehow got wind of the story, one might expect the Paper of Record to have at least a mention this morning.

One would be wrong.

Fresh from last week's failure to report the unfolding Van Jones controversy until the Obama administration forced their hand, the Times remains blissfully free of information about this developing story. As of the time of this posting, the Times' ACORN topic page contained nary a word about the 3 prostitution videos. The Times' ACORN news page did, however, contain a link to a real gem from Times Ombudsman Clark Hoyt, who in March dismissed House testimony alleging illegal collusion between the Obama campaign and ACORN as "The Tip That Didn't Pan Out".

This, despite the fact that Rep. John Conyers was so disturbed by said testimony that he called for an investigation into the allegations... that is, until "the powers that be" called the whole thing off:

Just three months before Rep. Conyers was convinced that looking into the affairs of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was the right way to go.

During a March 19 hearing, he received testimony from Republican lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh about ACORN's alleged serial violations of tax, campaign finance, and myriad other laws. Heidelbaugh's testimony was based on the evidence provided by a former ACORN employee, Anita MonCrief, who explained the thoroughly corrupt inner workings of ACORN and Project Vote, its voter drive-organizing arm, to a Pennsylvania court last year.

Conyers was told about ACORN's "muscle for the money" program, its protest-for-hire services, its mob-style shakedown tactics, and how President Obama's campaign sent the group its "maxed out donor list" and asked it "to reach out to the maxed out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN."

At the time, Conyers described the allegations as "a pretty serious matter" and a fortnight later said he would "probably" order a probe. "That's our jurisdiction, the Department of Justice. That's what we handle -- voter fraud. Unless that's been taken out of my jurisdiction and I didn't know it."

On May 4 he unexpectedly pulled back, announcing that a probe of ACORN "appears unwarranted at this time."
He refused to elaborate even though earlier the same day Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, revealed that ACORN and two former senior ACORN executives had been charged with 39 felony counts related to voter registrations.

A few days later Allegheny County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. laid voter registration fraud charges against seven ex-ACORN canvassers. Cuyahoga County, Ohio prosecutor Bill Mason is also probing ACORN after a man who was registered multiple times by ACORN was indicted by a grand jury for fraudulent voting. The Ohio charge should be especially worrisome to ACORN, which claims as a matter of policy that illegal voting does not happen.

A search of the Times' archives, however, reveals that this incident, too, never happened. Hoyt's characterization of the Times' sources as "unreliable" is even more suspect in light of Times reporter Stephanie Strom's multiple reports citing the same "unsubstantiated" source:

The aborted story that gave rise to the Obama/ACORN controversy centers around information provided by Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN employee whom Hoyt acknowledges "fed information to Stephanie Strom of The Times for several articles on troubles within the group." Apparently the information MonCrief provided was good.

We know this because Strom broke a number of important stories about ACORN and surely much of the information she used came from her trusted source Anita MonCrief. In July she reported that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from the group. She also reported that ACORN management covered up the embezzlement for eight years, withholding information even from ACORN's national board.

The next month Strom reported that Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike, a comrade-in-arms of liberal philanthropist George Soros, had personally covered what remained of Wade Rathke's debt (the embezzler had agreed to a slow-as-molasses repayment plan that would have kept him in debt well into old age).

In September Strom reported on two ACORN national board members' lawsuit aimed at forcing ACORN to provide financial documents regarding the embezzlement.

She followed up the next month with a story on ACORN's efforts to sever its remaining ties with its founder. (Strom reported that Wade Rathke resigned as chief organizer of ACORN. In fact, Rathke was fired, as shown in the ACORN national board's minutes of June 20, 2008, available at page 11 of the linked PDF file.)

The same month Strom wrote about an internal memo written by ACORN's lawyer that alerted the group to potential legal problems related to its organizational structure.

But apparently MonCrief's information was suddenly no good when it might have embarrassed the Obama campaign.

How conveeeeeeeeeeeeenient.

Posted by Cassandra at September 14, 2009 08:35 AM

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ACORN's position -- in a nutshell -- "Those videos were doctored and edited and totally bogus, and our employees did absolutely nothing wrong, and so we fired them, because we deplore their actions and in no way condone them."

Posted by: BillT at September 14, 2009 09:41 AM

Down the Memory Hole... yay. :/

Posted by: MikeD at September 14, 2009 09:42 AM

I dunno...these things have a way of going viral really quickly. Of course, on 'Meet the Press' the internet is a savage wasteland of raw sewage trying to pass itself off as 'news.'

Let the whining, breastbeating and justification of ignorance begin. After all, mere bloggers are not 'trained' journalists. Yeah, we know. So?

Posted by: Cricket at September 14, 2009 10:34 AM

"Training" = ideological indoctrination (?)

Cricket knows best, as she is in college now.

I saw Tom Brokaw and Tom Friedman on "Meet the Press" last week, and it was sorta funny, to see how far they have fallen, and that they are still.......faalllling!

Denial. It's not just a river in Egypt.

"Courage!" - Dan Rather (and where is he now?)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 14, 2009 12:57 PM

Cricket, are you in school? Remember Mark's wise advise - research the Prof. you take a class from. You will have much more fun. Some of these clowns are vicious and can dump you from a degree program. I have seen it happen.

Posted by: Mark at September 14, 2009 01:42 PM

Knowing the Lady Cricket, whichever clown attempted to do that would wind up wishing he'd taken that job as a septic field remediation specialist when he had the chance...

Posted by: BillT at September 14, 2009 01:50 PM

It's all of a piece; socialists stick together.

Posted by: camojack at September 15, 2009 01:34 AM

If you only knew how true that was...especially in my First Accounting Class...

Let me just say that professor is not teaching any more.

Posted by: Cricket at September 15, 2009 10:32 AM

I might have some inkling... ;-)

Posted by: camojack at September 16, 2009 03:33 AM

*buffing fingernails on shirtfront...*


Posted by: BillT at September 16, 2009 06:16 AM