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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/30/10

Hannipocrisy: ACORN 'Pimp' Slams AP, WaPo For "Journalistic Malpractice"

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After his arrest on felony charges for plotting to interfere with the office phones of a US Senator, so-called 'ACORN pimp' James O'Keefe has issued a statement, attacking early reporting on the arrests:"The government has now confirmed what has always been clear: No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu's office. Nor did we try to cut or shut down her phone lines. Reports to this effect over the past 48 hours are inaccurate and false.

As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose corruption and lack of concern for citizens by government and other institutions, as I did last year when our investigations revealed the massive corruption and fraud perpetrated by ACORN. For decades, investigative journalists have used a variety of tactics to try to dig out and reveal the truth.

I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu's constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn't want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill. When asked about this, Senator Landrieu's explanation was that, "Our lines have been jammed for weeks." I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for "weeks" because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu's district office - the people's office - to ask the staff if their phones were working.

On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building. The sole intent of our investigation was to determine whether or not Senator Landrieu was purposely trying to avoid constituents who were calling to register their views to her as their Senator. We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I'm eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media.

It has been amazing to witness the journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story. MSNBC falsely claimed that I violated a non-existent "gag order." The Associated Press incorrectly reported that I "broke in" to an office which is open to the public. The Washington Post has now had to print corrections in two stories on me. And these are just a few examples of inaccurate and false reporting. The public will judge whether reporters who can't get their facts straight have the credibility to question my integrity as a journalist."

And now the public should judge:

Isn't it the height of irresponsible journalism and indeed classic Nixonian distortion to suggest ACORN had in place any top-down directives seeking to promote immigrant child prostitution?

Was surreptitiously recording conversations in California and Maryland without consent of all participants responsible journalism, despite state laws prohibiting this?

When sued for defamation and accused of doctoring the audio in their ACORN sting video, O'Keefe and Breitbart have stonewalled in releasing their original unedited recordings. Is this a responsible journalistic tactic?

Doing the People's work or just astroturfing?

After O'Keefe's ACORN videos premiered on the Sean Hannity show, O'Keefe claimed in a Fox News report that he was an independently-funded citizen videographer. But a Village Voice exposé confirmed O'Keefe had already received grants from the right-wing Leadership Institute (whose alumni include Karl Rove and Jeff Gannon) as well as some $10,000 from controversial Facebook co-founder Peter Thiel to produce "funny" videos presenting African-American families with sweepstakes checks that were worthless. More recently, O'Keefe's handler Andrew Breitbart admitted O'Keefe was also on his payroll.

Caught editing faked crowd scene footage in to reports, talk host Sean Hannity showed his propensity for "accidental" astroturfing, the practice of making corporate-fueled PR stunts look like actual populist uprisings.

But after thrusting O'Keefe into national prominence with the exclusive scoop attacking ACORN, Hannity made no mention of O'Keefe's arrest as the news broke live during his radio show, proving again that Hannity's show is blatantly unbalanced propaganda which flies in the face of basic journalism and shirks any ethical and professional responsibility to report relevant events to the people.

The story finally made it onto Hannity's TV show Friday night, where even guest Rebecca Diamond of Fox Business News agreed what O'Keefe was doing should not be called journalism.

Regardless whether you believe O'Keefe is a investigative journalist, a gonzo mercenary activist or a criminal "plumber", O'Keefe and Hannity's whiny use of the "straw man" approach is limp-wristed hypocrisy. They can dish out unsubstantiated, wild-eyed claims by the barrelful, for example, calling anti-war Americans unpatriotic or Obama a Marxist.

Another perfectly malevolent example of "jumping to conclusions" would be O'Keefe calling ACORN a willful conspirator in underage prostitution rings. Hannity knows well this rabid, sensationalist and exploitive media landscape is more of his making than anything done by the Associated Press or Washington Post.

Breaking: Pot Calls Kettle Black

O'Keefe's "straw man" approach and attempt to influence public opinion rings hollow when in the same breath, he reiterates disproven assertions ACORN engaged in "massive" corruption and fraud.

O'Keefe also points out the Washington Post has corrected inaccurate early reports of this story, yet has not to date himself corrected any of the "reporting" he's done which has been widely disputed by media and official investigations, leading to open public challenges and multiple lawsuits.
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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)

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