Fox Failed to Vet O’Keefe’s Deceptively Edited Video and ‘Reporting’ – ACORN Cleared of Wrongdoing in California

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Fox News racked up the ratings by tossing red meat to the right-wing racist fringe when it ran video produced by James O’Keefe, the fake investigative reporter, in which he posed as a pimp seeking help finding housing for his prostitution business from ACORN, the anti-poverty group whose clients are mostly African-American inner-city dwellers.

But newly released unedited versions of the video reveal that key sections of footage O’Keefe shot in California were omitted from Fox’s broadcast package in order to create the false impression that ACORN employees were being helpful to O’Keefe’s pimp character when in fact — and in context of the real interview — they definitely were not.

It’s a tribute to the propaganda power of Fox that as a result of its broadcasting O’Keefe’s video, ACORN, which was founded in 1970, shut down last month.

The most superficial and yet telling deception by Fox News and O’Keefe was that during his interviews with ACORN, O’Keefe was dressed as a caricature “Superfly”-era pimp and that ACORN employees were untroubled by this costume, as if they dealt with flamboyantly dressed pimps every day. While it’s true that Hannah Giles, O’Keefe’s associate was attired at the meetings as a prostitute, and O’Keefe was filmed in the Superfly outfit outside ACORN offices, when he went in to the meetings, he was wearing business-casual slacks and a a pin-striped dress shirt. (The Brad Blog has aggressively covered this deception, which corporate media reported without checking. The New York Times, in particular, has refused to correct the record on this issue.)

More significantly, another segment edited out of Fox News’ broadcast package would have clarified why an ACORN employee was so eager to learn details — their current whereabouts, etc. — about the underage prostitutes O’Keefe said he had under his control. If Fox were a legitimate news organization, a segment producer would have followed up on the interview and discovered that as soon as O’Keefe left the meeting, the ACORN employee called the cops on him. Instead, based on the deceptive video Fox aired, the ACORN employee was fired.

The unedited video also reveals that another employee who appeared to be encouraging O’Keefe in his prostitution venture was actually offering supportive words — “You can do anything. Don’t give up.” — to Hannah Giles, who was posing as a prostitute in desperate need of housing.

Based on the complete video record and an investigation into the actions of O’Keefe and Giles, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has cleared ACORN of wrongdoing in California last week. Unfortunately for ACORN, the finding was too late.

A legitimate news organization would have checked O’Keefe’s reporting. The raw footage would have been accounted for and follow up calls would have been made.

But this was not sloppy journalism. It was a highly effective tactic by a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party intended to hobble an anti-poverty group that is allied with a demographic group that Republicans revile and so votes as block for Democrats: the urban poor.

The airing of this intentionally deceptive video would have been a major embarrassment for a legitimate news outlet. But — with the exception of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC — this incident of journalistic ineptitude (or, more likely, malfeasance) has been ignored by the corporate media. Their silence is telling. They no longer take Fox seriously enough to be outraged, or even take note, when Fox News’ “journalism” is revealed to be disinformation in support of the GOP.

Similarly, the nation’s leading journalists were silent last August after a poll revealed that around 75 percent of Fox viewers said they believed as fact four key Republican lies about health-care reform — that undocumented aliens would be covered, that it was a government takeover, that it would cover abortions and that it would institute “death panels.”

The continuing silence from the American media establishment — its refusal fight back, to stand up and say that what Fox presents is propaganda, not news — is another signal that journalism as we once knew it is dying, if not dead.


  • April 8, 2010 - 8:31 am | Permalink

    James O’Keefe may be the shock film maker that created this piece but he has been promoted by Andrew Breightbart extensively. Breightbart has played both sides of the fence working for both the Drudge Report and Huffington post before starting his own media company to promote is own ideals. The article “The Saboteur” (Wired, April 2010) discusses in detail his relationship with fox, and his lack of scruples when it comes to sensationalizing and even manipulating the news. The funny part is that he is only the symptom of the problem. The real problem is those who take things at face value, never look below the surface and are just uninformed or ignorant, by choice.

  • April 8, 2010 - 8:55 am | Permalink

    ACORN was proven to engage in voter fraud during the election. Propagandists such as Rachel Maddow and the Penisto Review didn’t cover that.

    How’s that hopey changey stuff working out for you?

  • April 8, 2010 - 9:05 am | Permalink

    Fox Fan: It’s (yet another) Fox News lie that ACORN has been proven to alter ballots in any election. Cite legit sources (not Fox or right-wing hatemonger radio personalities or bloggers) to prove your claim.

  • dr. bar
    April 8, 2010 - 10:20 am | Permalink

    “How’s that hopey changey stuff working out for you?”

    pretty good actually, thanks for asking!!

  • Obammy Regime
    April 8, 2010 - 10:27 am | Permalink
  • Memyself
    April 8, 2010 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    @Fox Fan

    Considering Health care just got passed, I’d say that “hopey changey ” thing is working out pretty good.

  • The man that listens
    April 8, 2010 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    @ Fox Fan

    I know you get your kicks by trying to get down and dirty with Liberals, but for the sake of civilized discourse didn’t the alleged “voter fraud” end up being just about volunteers filling out fake voter registration forms so they can paid more for signing more people up?

    I doubt registered individuals like;

    Mickey Mouse
    John Doe
    and Donald Duck would ever be allowed to vote.

  • April 8, 2010 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    @Fox Fan – can you tell me what it’s like to be a parrot, regurgitating of all things, the mindless dribble and sticking points of the mouth breathing, vacuous, undereducated, gas bag that is Sarah Palin? I grow tired of worrying about the future and where this country/world is going and would like to simply shed this fear by disallowing any personal independent thought. Can you help me? How do you become comfortable with the puppet masters hand so delicately jammed up your hiney? Please advise…

  • Fox Fan is Un-American
    April 8, 2010 - 11:13 am | Permalink

    “Fox Fan” is obviously a fool and trouble maker. Anyone that looks up to the intellect of and quotes Sarah Palin’s poor grammar, has limited brain cell activity. Speaking of voter fraud, presidential election of 2004 ring a bell?

  • Terry
    April 8, 2010 - 11:31 am | Permalink

    The issue with the bad voter registration forms is that once filled out, even if you know they’re bogus you have to turn them in.

  • FinkPloyd
    April 8, 2010 - 11:50 am | Permalink


    “ACORN was proven to engage in voter fraud during the election. Propagandists such as Rachel Maddow and the Penisto Review didn’t cover that.”

    Absolutely, factually untrue. There have been no confirmed cases of voter fraud by Acorn nor it’s employees. There were cases of voter registration fraud however it was Acorn itself which brought those frauds to light. Acorn is required by law to turn in every voter registration regardless of it’s legitimacy. They were aware of the fraudulent registrations and they themselves alerted the authorities.

    Funny story, ever hear about Voter Outreach of America? Yeah, that was a firm hired by the GOP who trashed thousands of Democratic voter registration forms. Ever hear of Mark Jacoby? His firm Young Political Majors was also hired by the GOP to register voters; oh and he was also arrested himself for his own registration fraud.

    Acorn did the right thing. The GOP has perpetrated far more fraud that Acorn ever has. You have bought the pack of lies that faux “news” and the right wing propeganda machine has sold you.

  • Jordan
    April 8, 2010 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

    @ FoxFan

    It’s OK to admit you have no idea what constitutes voter fraud.

    What ACORN did was collect voter registrations and pass them on to county election offices.

    Yes. Some of those registrations were filled out fraudulently – BUT – and here’s the part Fox News doesn’t report: It would have been illegal for ACORN to throw those registrations away. Even if they knew they were fraudulently filled out for Superman or someone’s dog or whatever.

    When an organization collects registrations they are BOUND BY LAW to turn them over to the county election officials. THEY are the ones who have the job of figuring out which registrations are legal and which are not.

    See this is to prevent organizations from doing registration drives and then throwing away the reg forms of people they don’t agree with.

  • GarryInNola
    April 8, 2010 - 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Acorn may have been involved in a few things that were a little questionable over it’s many years of existence but, by and large, it was a grassroots organization that did good work. And now it is defunct because of this Right Wing idiot and an homogenized news media that doesn’t ask questions and often does not fact check the stories it runs. This guy, O-Keefe also was arrested for attempting to gain access to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans using an assumed identify.

  • April 8, 2010 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Fox Fan is getting destroyed….

  • Yuri
    April 8, 2010 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    One Accorn office out of how many? Only one Accorn employee called the cops. The rest of them just gave advice how to run prostitution ring!!! Stupid people!

  • April 8, 2010 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Yuri – Please cite examples — from legitimate sources, not Fox or AM radio or hate bloggers — of ACORN staffers being convicted of anything.

  • licnyc
    April 8, 2010 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Leave it to the 5 year old mentality of people like foxfan. If acorn did do other things wrong- it still doesn’t excuse FOX from lying and making up facts. Its the typical conservative kindergarten ethics. Some how anything is excusable if you can shift the blame to someone else. Like you would have to tell a five year, if acorn jumped off a bridge, doesn’t mean you should too.

  • Knute
    April 8, 2010 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Hundreds of people lost jobs and personal reputations were destroyed while FOX gained ratings and revenue. If I were negatively impacted by this I’d be lawyering up…

  • Fox Fan wins
    April 8, 2010 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

    That was an epic troll and a lot of people bit. It’s best to ignore his kind. They are the vocal minority and don’t deserve the attention they get.

  • Ray
    April 8, 2010 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

    The best part about your comment is that you totally ignored the blaring obvious truth that fox altered the interviews to deceive its viewers. Did you not get that part? Do you understand they changed the context of what was being said entirely?

  • whathappenedtoobjectivity
    April 8, 2010 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “How’s that hopey changey stuff working out for you?”

    I don’t know what’s worse: 1) your proof that you are just another mindless drone who repeats what Palin tells you to repeat, or 2) that your apparent point is that everybody should embrace your candidate, which apparently wants people to have no hope or ever have anything change.

  • April 8, 2010 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I worked for Acorn once upon a time. One of the more tedious jobs I had to do was comb over voter registration forms and petitions looking for fakes, which I had to take note of. ACORN was annoying to work for, but they were pretty scrupulous and above-board when it came to legalities.

  • Zach Jablons
    April 9, 2010 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Nobody in the corporate media talked about Fox having propaganda instead of news? What about Jon Stewart?

  • April 10, 2010 - 5:57 am | Permalink

    Hi Zach – “Corporate media” refers to the big news outlets that are owned by giant corporations — ABC, NBC, CBS and large newspaper chains. Jon Stewart is a comedian, who hosts a fake news show on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, which owns CBS. Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and (sometimes) Chris Matthews also criticize Fox on MSNBC, but they are considered liberal commentators and so don’t have the heft that the big time journos have. It’s these journalists who have the biggest stake in preserving their profession, a responsibility they’re ignoring when it comes to Fox.

  • Vin
    April 13, 2010 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Another version of the truth:

    “To sum up, the left’s supposed debunking of the ACORN story is no such thing. There was no crime here because of O’Keefe and Giles, not because of the actions of the ACORN employees. If O’Keefe and Giles had indeed been a pimp and a prostitute, there clearly would be a crime here. They weren’t, so the ACORN employees are off the hook. The truth is that the real story here is Jerry Brown’s failure to do his job and investigate past ACORN practices to uncover similar situations where actual criminal activity took place, and Rachel Maddow’s willing cooperation in a pathetic cover up of the deeply disturbing (and in other cases, probably criminal) activity at ACORN.”

    This purported “failure” is much ado about nothing

    • April 13, 2010 - 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Vin – Breitbart’s Big Journalism is a right-wing propaganda outlet. It has zero credibility among normal people in the real world. I suspect that you don’t know that what you posted here is someone’s opinion and speculation, not facts.

      If you’ve got legit sources — not Big Journalism, Fox and hatemonger bloggers and radio hosts — that prove that the California attorney general bungled the investigation into ACORN, show that O’Keefe did not purposefully edit the video to deceive viewers, or provide some rationale for Fox’s broadcasting unvetted material that turned out to be decptively edited, which was unprofessional at best, post them.

      If not, you’re wasting our bandwidth posting right-wing disinformation. Regular people can see right through it.

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