Virtually alone among the nation’s dailies, the Los Angeles Times has actually reported on the explosive videos taken by undercover journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles for the website BigGovernment, which have thus far resulted in defunding by the Senate and New York City, with promises of more action to come. Today, they become the first major daily to have the editors address the scandal on their editorial page. And while they’d like to be sympathetic to the notion that the videos just represent a few bad apples, the LA Times’ editorial board simply isn’t buying it:
Unfortunately for ACORN, this isn’t the first time the liberal advocacy group has been in the news. It became a liability for then-Sen. Barack Obama during the presidential campaign after almost a third of the 1.3 million new voters it registered were rejected, in some cases because they were fraudulent. During one of the debates, Sen. John McCain questioned Obama’s past relationship with the group, which Obama had represented as a lawyer in a 1995 lawsuit.
Given all the scrutiny, one would have expected ACORN to be doing everything in its power to make sure its activities were squeaky clean. Yet since the initial video was released last week showing ACORN workers in Baltimore who appeared to be aiding and abetting criminal activity, activist filmmaker James O’Keefe has released two more showing similar behavior at ACORN offices in Washington and Brooklyn. The response from ACORN? Fire the workers involved and blame Fox News.
“We are the boogeyman for the right-wing and its echo chambers,” reads a self-serving statement released Saturday by ACORN’s chief organizer, Bertha Lewis. She claimed the videos were “doctored” and threatened legal action against Fox. What she didn’t do is apologize for the appalling and possibly illegal behavior of ACORN employees, acknowledge that the organization has serious internal problems and vow to correct them, or do what she should have done as soon as the scandal was revealed: resign.
The LAT’s editors left out Lewis’ claim that the videos were the equivalent of the “Willie Horton” ads, which Lewis claims later in her “self-serving statement.” One has to believe that the editorial writer couldn’t bear to repeat it even in criticism out of embarrassment for a group they’d like to see survive, which means that the editorial misses the entire racism defense ACORN and its allies have tried to use since the videos began appearing last Thursday. Other than that, this editorial entirely repudiates ACORN and demands some big changes — and tacitly approves of the defunding efforts in play on Capitol Hill.
This appears to be the day that the story has crossed over into the mainstream media for good. The New York Times reported on it today, albeit while missing the story’s local angle, which speaks volumes about the paper. The political action in the Beltway has forced the media to pay attention, and the lurid spectacle of having a woman admit to murder (apparently falsely) has created an entertaining moment so compelling that it would require a concerted effort to continue to ignore it.
When will the broadcast networks start reporting this on the evening news? Tonight? Tomorrow? Never? We may be seeing even more of these videos soon, so don’t expect the pressure to end.