Hey, ACORN's not so bad

Christopher Martin, a journalism professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and I recently analyzed media coverage of ACORN over the years. In our published report, “Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN Was in the News, and What the News Got Wrong,” we found that, despite ACORN’s effective community organizing work in more than 70 cities across the country, 55% of the stories about the organization during 2007 and 2008 dealt with voter fraud…

Our study documented that many news outlets reported the voter fraud allegations without attempting to verify them. Had they done so, they would have discovered that not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted. What occurred was voter registration fraud, not voter fraud, and it was ACORN that exposed the wrongdoing in the first place. Yet more than 80% of the stories about this controversy failed to mention that it was ACORN that found and reported the phony names…

And what about the prostitute-and-pimp video? It also isn’t quite what Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly would have you believe. Two “gotcha” right-wing activists showed up at about 10 ACORN offices hoping to entice low-level staff to provide tax advice for an illegal prostitution ring. In most ACORN offices, the staff kicked the pair out. In a few cities, staffers called the police. In two offices, however, the staff listened and offered to help. That was wrong. But ACORN immediately fired the errant staffers.