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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/8/10

Unedited ACORN Videos Reveal O'Keefe, Hannity Lied At Great Cost To Taxpayers

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Undercover "pimp" videographer James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were found to have been deceitful in the editing of their infamous ACORN videos, according to California Attorney General Jerry Brown who acquired the full, unedited versions of the tapes. Brown's office arranged a deal to see the originals after agreeing not to prosecute O'Keefe and Giles for violating the privacy rights granted to all Californians under state law. Brown recently made public the raw footage to show how O'Keefe distorted the truth - and how his Fox-TV media benefactor Sean Hannity ran with the distortions.

The specific instances of deceit included taking answers to questions out of their original context, misinterpreting the statements of the employees and using creative editing to imply they were dressed in flagrant pimp and ho gear when they were not (The New York Times finally issued their retraction about the falsely reported pimp costume last month).

Although Brown's investigation did confirm four instances of possible voter registration fraud by ACORN, his findings absolved other ACORN workers who were falsely framed. Juan Carlos Vera, an employee at the San Diego ACORN offices was fired for apparently condoning human trafficking but turned out to have been merely playing along with O'Keefe, extracting information from him.

Mr. Vera immediately called his brother in the police department as O'Keefe left the San Diego office, but this crucial fact was concealed by Fox's Sean Hannity who repeated and amplified a libelous attack against an innocent man. After Vera notified his brother, O'Keefe's claims were referred to the San Diego Police Department's human smuggling specialist.

Significant manpower and taxpayer dollars funds were eaten up investigating O'Keefe's sex trafficking hoaxes, especially after Governor Shwarzennegger instructed the Attorney General to complete a full investigation, it's not inconceivable the cost reached into the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars wasted by O'Keefe's gonzo fabrications. Another investigation took place after a San Bernadino ACORN employee saw through O'Keefe's tall tales and mockingly claimed she murdered her abusive husband.

It was you and I who paid for the verification of O'Keefe's claims about these workers. Hannity did nothing to assure any accuracy to his audience and fails daily to issue retractions since.

Although Brown granted O'Keefe and Giles criminal immunity for turning over the unedited tapes, civil lawsuits could go forward against the two for violating privacy laws, in light of the damage done to the workers whose words and meanings were twisted on national TV and syndicated radio over and over by Hannity. "I never done anything wrong in my life," Vera said. "They destroyed my family." According to Attorney General Brown, "the ACORN employees may be able to bring a private suit against O'Keefe and Giles for recording a confidential conversation without consent."

In surveying the damage done by Hannity however, it seems he irresponsibly gave O'Keefe and Giles exclusive air time without verification. This apparently emboldened O'Keefe to commit bigger crimes because he then plotted to video the illegal infiltration of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's offices.

Whatever O'Keefe had planned next was surely aimed at the healthcare issue, based on his choice of Mary Landrieu whose pivotal vote was cast only after Louisiana was promised extras in the reform package.

We can reasonably presume this video was meant for Hannity's show. Arrested on felonies in January, O'Keefe's crew of four now face misdemeanor charges which could land them six months federal prison time. Hannity did not report the arrest even happened until almost two days after.

Carelessly regurgitating lies to his audience, Hannity should have been more careful after he recently apologized for airing "screwed up" videos which falsely portrayed the size of a Michele Bachmann rally.

Freedom From Accuracy
ACORN had over 100 offices nationwide, but Hannity aired now-suspect "evidence" only from a handful of workers in a few cities to imply repeatedly on his radio show that the entire organization endorsed underage prostitution, kidnapping and pedophelia, crimes which were all fable and invented by O'Keefe who publicly admitted he was gunning for ACORN because of their impact on elections.

The video under production next was meant to impress handler Andrew Breitbart who paid O'Keefe for stories, later "pimping" him out to Hannity who turned him over to Roger Ailes or another executive trolling the shadows of the hidden donor-media-lobbying-Congressional-corporate complex.

Hannity's San Diego ACORN broadcast was timed to air one day after a Congressional "quick pitch" bill came at ACORN. O'Keefe's videos conned many in Congress into passing legislation that had to be rescinded, costing taxpayers heavily in a time of dire economic straits.

Rep. Darrel Issa and 160 cosponsors saw The Defund ACORN Act passed in record time, only to be later reversed as unconstitutional (it's guidelines would apply equally to Blackwater whose crimes fill volumes) but was nevertheless successful in destroying the ACORN name, good and bad parts together.

Hannity's broadcasts also informed the fringe-dwelling bloggers who fanned the flames in vilifying ACORN nationwide. One website wrote: "In San Diego, it goes beyond whore-house housing loans and tax evasion now, they are getting assistance from ACORN in the actual smuggling of the underage girls into America over the Mexico border". Actual? Really?

By election day, voters in middle class suburban New York districts were receiving phony newsletters warning in bold print that "ACORN workers are coming to your house!" In reality, it was the Swift Boat PR firm coming to our towns, coordinating the fear-mongering and misinformation with Hannity's highly publicized lying.

Had Hannity tracked down any of these ACORN workers to get their first-hand accounts as a responsible broadcaster is required to do, he would have learned they were in fact edited out of context, this after their privacy rights were violated. Only O'Keefe had the original footage, so the public was misled and unable to vet Hannity's report until O'Keefe leveraged the tapes to cut himself an immunity deal at the taxpayer's expense.

Freedom From Balance
This follows Hannity's pattern of refusing sufficient air time for counter arguments no matter how relevant.Hannity has every right to expose individual ACORN employees who showed bad judgment or gave hypothetically illegal advice, but the way he repeatedly implied the the entire organization approved of rape of immigrant children was an example of broadcasting so deceitful, it smacks of subversive World War II era propaganda that American parents, educators and clergy taught for decades was unethical and immoral.

Hannity's show is unique in media today, being so closely based on the negative attack ad concept, his primary purpose is to convince voters in November to support his picks, but with one glaring, unpatriotic problem: his program does not show good will nor give adequate air time to competing candidates. Hannity frequently includes uncorrected misstatements and even has doctored audio of people speaking mid-sentence.

Freedom From Transparency
Hannity also stands accused today of helping to direct donations meant for the children of slain combat veterans towards wasteful desk-jobs for partisan friends. His partner organization Freedom Alliance was downgraded to a junk charity rating after a right-wing blogger publicized tax records showing minimal benefits going to troop families after deceptive claims. Responses by Freedom Alliance have not cleared up accusations of wildly creative accounting, resulting in lawsuits by ethics and veterans groups' watchdog agencies.

Despite his flagship station's motto of "breaking news and stimulating talk", Hannity has whitewashed these allegations on his radio show from his listeners as he tours the country this week. Hannity's latest paperback selectively criticizes President Obama for overspending with no defense for Hannity's paranoid call for endless war, representing massive borrowing and debt without any benefit (written as President Karzai, Bush's puppet in Afghanistan just pledged to join the enemy after eight years).

We all know Hannity is being funded by special interests such as the Heritage Foundation, but largely being overlooked is Hannity's practice of deeply discounting his book, in effect pre-buying copies to artificially place the book high on best-seller lists, an approach used by Mark Levin and Sarah Palin to gain #1 status through more "astroturfing". Alas, one can look back to President Reagan's 1982 top-secret directive to manipulate book distribution in order to sway public opinion in support of military (or illegal paramilitary) activities abroad to see where Hannity got the idea for underwriting dissemination of his propaganda and his biased, dumbed-down and repetitive "advertainment".

Freedom From Professional Integrity
Parents should consider limiting their children's exposure to news and information sources that do not present balanced perspectives from both sides allowing them to think critically and make the decisions that will improve America's deadlocked, divisive political discourse.

Again caught betraying the public trust, Hannity's propensity to broadcast lies, fake crowd scenes, censor calls, take special interest money, forego corrections, and shrink from open debate with qualified adversaries is a black stain on American public airwaves. Like everybody else, Hannity should be educating and informing our kids through authentic, responsible reporting.

Freedom From Accountability?
Hannity, still uninvestigated for his part in coordinating the selling of the Iraq war, has little conscience or concern for slandering these individual ACORN workers and no regard for the taxpayers who had to pay to correct the record after he didn't do his job as a broadcaster and check sources.
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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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