When right-wing nuts James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles released undercover videos of ACORN workers purportedly telling them how to smuggle underage girls into the country, the response was overwhelming. The conservative media ran with the story from day one. Just like with the Sherrod scandal, the main stream media picked up on the story too. Soon, congress voted to defund ACORN, an organization that registered lower class people to vote.
To this day, the right-wing media has continued to stand by the video, even though it has proven to be a hoax. O’Keefe and Giles claimed to be dressed up like a “pimp” and a “Ho”. They were actually dressed normally. In addition, the worker they spoke to called the police on them and reported their underage-girl-smuggling-plan right after the nut jobs left. Of course, if you are stuck in the right-wing media circle, you have no idea that this was a hoax. Apparently, hoax videos are cause for defunding organization now. Someone go hoax Koch industries.
Describing the video ensemble as a politically motivated piece that lacked context and didn’t present accurate information, Alexandra Fenwick of the Columbia Journalism Review commented that while there were elements of the ACORN reporting that were commendable, it was raw information instead of journalism. The videos were also criticized by MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell, who suggested it was entrapment with hidden cameras, while Brian Kettenring, deputy director of national operations for ACORN, said that the tapes were illegally recorded and are examples of “gotcha” journalism. When Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes cleared ACORN employees of criminal wrongdoing on March 1, 2010 after a five-month investigation, a law enforcement source said that while the video by O’Keefe and Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide illicit money, an unedited version wasn’t as clear cut. “They edited the tape to meet their agenda”, the Daily News quoted the source as saying. ACORN lawyer Arthur Schwartz commented that ACORN was “gratified that the DA has concluded something we knew all along”, and that O’Keefe and Giles had “used subterfuge to convince congress and the media to vilify an organization that didn’t deserve it.”
During a September 14 television appearance on FOX, O’Keefe was interviewed wearing a fur coat, sunglasses, and holding a cane. The host announced “… [O’Keefe] is dressed exactly in the same outfit that he wore to these ACORN offices up and down the eastern seaboard”, followed by asking him “[i]s that what you think a pimp looks like?” O’Keefe answered yes. Political journalist Mike Stark questioned the accuracy of O’Keefe’s portrayal of his ACORN visits dressed as a pimp, noting that O’Keefe never actually wore the pimp outfit inside ACORN offices and on one occasion actually posed as a candidate for Congress. Stark went on to ask, “If they really wanted the truth out there, why do they need to edit these tapes in the first place? Why aren’t the unedited videos already in the public domain?”
Washington Post staff writers Darryl Fears and Carol Leonnig wrote that “Giles and O’Keefe have been criticized for accuracy problems. Their videos include the oft-repeated conservative claim that ACORN is expected to get up to $8.5 billion in government funds. But that’s a bold exaggeration, as it includes $3 billion in stimulus funds set aside for revitalization efforts nationwide, and $5.5 billion in federal community development grants”. The number assumed ACORN would apply for and win every project and grant in the country, and ACORN did not apply for any of the stimulus funds. Leonnig also observed that “the videos, in some cases, left out what I would call some exculpatory material … for example, in one, a San Bernadino [sic] employee at ACORN explains that there is no way ACORN would support what the couple were proposing, and she asks if they are putting her on, candid-camera style.”