Great moments in gatekeeping
posted at 2:55 pm on September 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Don Wade and Roma at Chicago’s WLS-AM ask outgoing ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson about why most media outlets have failed to cover the ACORN story — and they get a better answer than they must have expected. Instead of a discourse over editorial policy, Gibson proclaims his ignorance of the story — even though the Senate acted last night to cut off funds to the group, and days after the Census Bureau publicly extricated itself from its relationship with ACORN. When pressed, Gibson indicates that the story is apparently beneath his standards, as Michelle highlights in the transcript:
Don: Okay, here’s my news question. A Senate bill yesterday passes, cutting off funds to this group called ACORN. Now, we got that bill passed and we have the embarrassing video of ACORN staffers giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel with 13-year-old hookers. It has everything you could want – corruption and sleazy action at tax-funded organizations and it’s got government ties. But nobody’s covering that story. Why?
Gibson: HAHAHAHAHA. HEHEHE. I didn’t even know about it. Um. So, you’ve got me at a loss. I don’t know. Uh. Uh. But my goodness, if it’s got everything including sleaziness in it, we should talk about it this morning.
Roma: This is the American way!
Gibson: Or maybe this is just one you leave to the cables.
Roma: Well, I think this is a huge issue because there’s so much funding that goes into this organization…
Gibson: I know we’ve done some stories about ACORN before, but this one I don’t know about…
Roma: Jake Tapper did some blogging on it. I know he’s blogged at least once on this scandal.
Gibson: You guys are uh really up on the website.
A couple of points should be made. First, Gibson is not the entirety of ABC News. As Don and Roma point out, ABC has been reporting it through Jake Tapper, although currently only on the website.
All that being said, the ACORN story is not just a Kanye West celebrity dust-up. It involves tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, and potentially billions in upcoming legislation. ACORN has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Democratic Party in the last election cycle and beyond, helping to organize in communities on behalf of Obama’s domestic policy agenda. It’s a story worthy of national coverage, and leaving it to the cable news outlets may explain why people don’t bother to tune into the broadcast networks any longer to get informed.
Let’s pose the question this way. If the Federalist Society, which got a heaping helping of demonization during the John Roberts and Samuel Alito confirmation hearings, started giving advice to prospective pimps and hookers on tax evasion and hiding child-prostitution rings, does anyone think that the Charlie Gibsons and the Papers of Record in the US would let that slide to the cable networks? Or would it headline their outlets, complete with a dissection of Federalist Society support for Republicans?