Say it ain’t so, Jake!
Jake Tapper, ABC News White House Correspondent, has consistently posed harder questions to President Obama than virtually anyone else in the largely fawning gaggle of groupies also known as the White House Press Corps and because of that higher level of intellectual honesty many of us follow Jake on Facebook or on Twitter. When he noted yesterday that ABC’s World News Tonight was [finally] going to report on the recent ACORN sting and their on-tape support of numerous illegalities I made sure that I did not miss it. I like Jake Tapper. I was more than a little disappointed by the story, and frankly he and Gibson need to be called out on it.
Please go watch the short segment, which can be viewed here, to decide for yourself.
The segment seemed slanted from the very beginning and I had a flashback to the late 90s when Dan Rather was reporting on the Lewinsky scandal during President Clinton’s second term. Like Charlie Gibson’s graphic, which read “ACORN Under Fire,” Rather was doing his best to run interference for Mr. Clinton and similarly the graphic over his shoulder sympathetically read “White House Under Fire”. Many more properly descriptive alternatives come to mind, such as “ACORN Accused of Criminality” or even “Big Media Scooped by Amateurs”, but would clearly fail to portray the group sympathetically enough.
UPDATE 9/18: To be completely honest, O’Reilly’s graphic last night said “ACORN Under Fire” as well! But I do think that the points that I make in the rest of this post stand alone.
Gibson’s lead-in statements before handing the story off to Tapper attempted to frame the story immediately as some sort of GOP grudge match.
“For years, republicans in that city have been taking aim at an umbrella group of community organizers called ACORN. Opposition to the group intensified when ACORN helped President Obama in his election campaign. And now a video tape has surfaced which has prompted calls for investigations of ACORN’s activities.”
Gibson immediately struck a sympathetic tone with ACORN, once again painting a picture of a group in the crosshairs of the “republicans” who are “taking aim” at ACORN and he tried to present it as a simple partisan grudge against a group who supported their opponent. Furthermore, while being interviewed on a Chicago radio show on Tuesday (Sept. 15th), Gibson actually claimed that he was unfamiliar with the story! Given that the story, complete with video from ACORN offices of their people happily assisting in plans for illegal activities, had broken five days earlier one would expect Mr. Gibson to be familiar with it. The Senate had voted the night before to cut ties to ACORN and the Census Bureau had terminated their association with the radical group four days earlier on Friday, September 11th. Mr. Gibson’s claim of ignorance truly requires an unacceptable level of credulity.
After pointing out that ACORN has received more than $20 million in federal funds in the last decade, Tapper reported only the veneer of what the undercover ACORN video shows, saying only that Giles and O’Keefe caught ACORN on video “giving advice on how to skirt the law and hide a fictitious prostitution ring.”
What about the planned importation of underage illegal-alien hookers, guys?
I mean, really.
While Mr. Tapper pointed out that “those tapes were made by two young conservatives,” I suspect that he knows deep down in his heart that Giles and O’Keefe were simply doing what an unbiased media would do if America had one: expose corruption regardless of ideology. The disappointing part to me is that after World News Tonight remained silent on the story for days, Gibson and Tapper chose not to fully report on the depth of the criminal advice clearly given on the video. Are objective observers to believe that the reporter does not think it relevant that these ACORN people did not bat an eye when informed that the plan was to illegally import a dozen young 13-to-15 year old girls for the purposes of prostitution? That is not some “right wing” allegation, it’s on video, and it is the most shocking part of the story. But it was not reported.
Further, though Tapper did report on the recent arrest of eleven ACORN workers in Miami on charges of voter registration fraud, he and Gibson declined to mention the scores of other criminal charges against ACORN across the US for voter fraud and other criminality. Perhaps there are other reasons for conservatives to oppose ACORN, contrary to Mr. Gibson’s implication that it is nothing more than a grudge based upon ACORN’s support of one of their own for president in 2008. Jake continues:
“Republicans have long opposed ACORN’s politics and methods. Last year they attacked the President and his campaign for ties to the group. Those allegations did not stick, but these videos shown frequently on Fox News Channel seemed to constitute a tipping point.”
Many Americans of all political stripes oppose organizations that are engaged in the level of criminality and fraud that ACORN seems to have perfected. Conservatives did indeed attack the Obama campaign last year for his strong and deep ties to ACORN, but Gibson and Tapper declined to mention that the Obama campaign gave $800,000 to ACORN during that election. Jake is straight-up and usually a solid reporter, but that last statement was a whopper. Once again he has to point out (even though it makes his employer, ABC News, seem asleep at the wheel) that the videos are being shown on Fox News Channel. More telling is his statement that one outlet repeatedly showing those videos constituted a “tipping point”. While Jake may have been trying to make the point that it finally got Americans’ attention what he is really exposing is that Fox News’ unwillingness to drop the story constituted the “tipping point” that made biased media outlets like ABC News reluctantly report the story, though not without bias, as I have attempted to point out.
It seems obvious that the Breitbart/Giles/O’Keefe tactic of releasing new videos over several days has successfully resulted in breaking up what initially looked like a successful media blackout.
But don’t just listen to some libertarian blogger tell you that the media had put their fingers in their ears, chanting “La-La-La-I Can’t Hear You” with respect to the ACORN video story. None other than The Daily Show’s John Stewart has skewered the media for just that:
“You’re telling me that two kids from the cast of High School Musical 3 can break this story with a video camera and their grandmother’s chinchilla coat and you’ve got nothing? I’m a fake journalist and I’m embarrassed that these guys scooped me!”
Watch the short but funny video:
Decide for yourself.