September 12, 2009

AP Story On ACORN Sting Video Firings Contains De Facto Commercial (UPDATE: There’s a Sting II)

APabsolutelyPathetic0109Thursday night, the Associated Press reported on the Baltimore ACORN sting carried out by James O’Keefe of Andrew Breitbart’s new web site.A paragraph near the end of the report is virtually a de facto commercial for the controversial group.

As to the sting itself, in case you missed it — in two devastating videos originally posted here that you must see, O’Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute  who, as summarized in original Fox News coverage, told officials at ACORN’s Baltimore office that they “wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business.”

ACORN said Thursday that it has fired the two employees who are seen on tape telling O’Keefe and Giles the following, among a host of sickening howlers:

  • That the prostitute could list her occupation on tax forms as “freelance performing artist”
  • That three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes could be claimed as dependents (you see, trying to claim 13 dependents would “raise too many red flags”).
  • That the prostitute should also call the girls claimed as dependents “relatives,” and also claim child tax credits for them.
  • To stop using the word “prostitution,” and among 12 street-smart rules, train the underage girls to “keep their mouths shut.”

Here’s how AP covered the fallout from that story Thursday evening (saved here in full for fair use and discussion purposes):


The first sentence in the red-boxed paragraph is a blatant, one-sided commercial. AP doesn’t tell us that ACORN “says” it advocates for poor people; no-no-no, it acts as if that’s an established fact. The second sentence is an attempt to downplay known facts about the group’s widespread association with voter fraud. Concerns about ACORN not only coming from “conservatives,” but libertarians, liberals with a sense of fair play, and most importantly from county boards of elections, which ordinarily have equal representations of Democrats (not all of whom are liberal) and Republicans (not all of whom are conservative).

The ACORN link AP provides is to the group’s main home page, not ACORN Baltimore.

In an unexcerpted paragraph, the wire service labels O’Keefe a “conservative activist.” His views may or may not be conservative, but O’Keefe calls himself an “activist filmmaker.” By contrast, readers here will be totally not shocked to learn that in a roughly 550-word September 6 AP story about Michael Moore and his latest release (“Capitalism: A Love Story”), the wire service’s Colleen Barry never hangs any kind of judgmental label on Moore — not “liberal,” “leftist,” or even “activist.”

If you’re thinking that the AP is upset that ACORN got nailed, would rather not have to tell us what has happened, is bound and determined to salvage whatever shred of credibility it can for the outlaw group, and wants to minimize the negative fallout in reports its subscribers use, I would suggest that you’re in the right neighborhood.

AP didn’t handle ACORN’s Friday firing by the Census Bureau any better. I will address that story shortly.

UPDATE: Sting II — The AP report includes a claim by ACORN’s Margaret Williams that "undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices." Clever wording: She’s not saying that O’Keefe and Giles were the attempters in the other instances. The fact is, as revealed Friday, O’Keefe and Giles "attempted" to pull off their idea at the DC ACORN office. Oops, they "succeeded" again, and it’s also on video.

Cross-posted at



  1. Nice that it positions conservatives and Republicans as the only people who have problems with ACORN. Fine with me. Their stuff is beyond the pale.

    Comment by Michael — September 12, 2009 @ 12:55 am

  2. #1, but as long as that’s the case, they have viability. I hope I’m right what I say that O’Keefe and Giles, despite AP’s smear attempt (that’s what it is), have punctured that comfortable assumption, or the Census Bureau wouldn’t have fired ACORN.

    The sad thing is that AP’s memes still dominate the news most people who don’t follow things closely see and hear.

    Comment by TBlumer — September 12, 2009 @ 1:08 am

  3. I just visited CNN’s website. It’s 23:52 central time. NOT A WORD about the Acorn stuff. However, you can check out compelling journalism such as…”guy catches 40k pound trout”, or “stars fess up about plastic surgery”. Or, you can read a commentary about that our president should never be heckled, which story you can no longer comment to, but, luckily, there is a link on the bottom of it to ‘yes we still can dot something’, in which I can sign a petition to censure Rep. Wilson for his dastardly deed.

    Comment by Fashion — September 12, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  4. ACORN has a long history of establishing shell and/or interlocking organizations (322-odd at last count?). The Census Bureau will probably affiliate with one of the lesser known offshoots that uses the same people that ACORN would use for the census

    Comment by Solid Citizen — September 12, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  5. #4, that is a legitimate concern. ACORN is a criminal enterprise that should be looked at for RICO charges.

    Comment by TBlumer — September 12, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  6. From what I have heard about some of the “performance art” being subsidized by the “stimulus bill” out in San Francisco, I would think real prostitutes would be offended by the comparison.

    Comment by Mike Kelley — September 12, 2009 @ 10:47 am

  7. [...] this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog); I posted on the Associated Press’s treatment of the firing of two employees at [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — September 12, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  8. [...] this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press’s treatment of the firing of two employees at [...]

    Pingback by AP Report On Census Bureau’s Firing of ACORN Ignores Second O’Keefe Video Sting, Minimizes Impact of First « Prayer, News & Action — September 12, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  9. Google Mark Turner Pete Moore Billings Killings for a story about the corrupt system in the Florida Panhandle. Will someone please step up and shine a light on the car industry’s web of murder, money laundering, tax evasion, black mail, forced suicide, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, human trafficking and “for profit charities”.

    Comment by WillingToSay — September 12, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  10. #9, interest, but not on topic. The Stop the ACLU link gets me into the neighborhood of understanding it, but if you have a link to someone who has a timeline, or something more easily digestible for a newbie to the matter, I’d be interested in seeing it.

    Comment by TBlumer — September 13, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

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