Friday, September 25, 2009

New Study Details the Truth about the McCarthy style attack on ACORN.

A study by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute of Occidental College lays out the complete manipulation of the main stream media, the McCain campaign, and Congress by right wing zealots with an agenda against ACORN. This independent study which received no outside funding found how inaccurate agenda pushing conservatives managed to promote false and misleading stories and how the main stream media failed miserably in its journalistic duty.

The study states: "Journalism is essentially a discipline of verification, and verification is what separates it from propaganda, as Tom Rosenstiel and Bill Kovach note in The Elements of Journalism.In the case of ACORN, the story continued—and still continues—to serve as misinformation because it has largely been reported without transparency and accuracy."

Who is behind these attacks? The Study found that in its 30 years of organizing, that ACORN had made enemies of Republicans who did not appreciate the voting empowerment of low income citizens who tended to vote democratic. The Banking Industry was frustrated with ACORN which fought credit card abuses and predatory lending. The Tobacco, Restaurant, hotel and Alcohol industries opposed ACORNS work on "living wages." One of the genesis of the ACORN attack was from a group called the Employment Policies Institute, who is an astroturf group that is a front for Berman and Co. who represented corporate clients in the restaurant and bar industry who were opposed to minimum wage increases. This group began its attacks on several front web sites, hiding the actual identity of who was behind them. Soon the Conservative agenda pushing media, like the National Review, and Rush Limbaugh picked up the false attacks on ACORN.

During the Election campaign a great deal of coverage began on more main stream news outlets about possible "voter fraud" basically echoing the right wing attacks by propaganda outlets like, Fox News Channel and Rush Limbaugh. This study found that the main stream media failed in their journalistic responsibility by failing to report the following facts in most cases:
"• that ACORN was reporting registration irregularities to authorities, as required to do by law;
• that ACORN was acting to stop incidents of registration problems by its (mostly
temporary) employees when it became aware of these problems;
• that actual voter fraud is very rare;
• that Republicans were trying to discredit Obama with an ACORN “scandal”;
• and that allegations of “voter fraud” in 2007 and 2008 related to the earlier case
of the firing of U.S. Attorneys who refused to cooperate with Republican efforts to
politicize voter fraud accusations – firings that ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales."

It is no surprise that Fox News was the worst in failing to point out the above facts in 79% of its stories, CNN was right behind with failure to do so in 64%. The Best not surprisingly were NPR which stated the above facts in 50% of its stories and MSNBC in 64% of its stories.

In October 2008 there was a attempt though less successful then the false voter fraud allegations, to blame ACORN for the mortgage crises. When in reality as early as 1999 it was ACORN that sounded the alarm on discriminatory and predatory lending practices.

The other ongoing false narrative is that there are significant ties between President Obama and ACORN. In 2007 and 2008 almost 1/3 of all stories about ACORN mentioned a tie between Obama and ACORN, and 11.3% of these stories actually reported that Obama worked for ACORN which was completely false. John McCain even attempted to use this tie between Obama and ACORN during his campaign and in a debate, Obama responded clearly that it was not true. All actual investigations into this by media outlets and others have verified Obama's contention.

The study concludes: "This study of ACORN reveals the agenda‐setting effect of the news (the news tells us what to think about), and news framing (the news tells us how to think about it). These two phenomena vaulted poorly‐verified stories into the news agenda, and created narratives of a national voter fraud scandal and conspiracy from what were essentially localized problems of workers registering voters and of ACORN flagging examples ofquestionable applications to the appropriate officials, as required by law. Of course,those kinds of stories and narrative framing didn’t make it into the news media all by themselves. Conservative opinion entrepreneurs, along with the Republican Party, maintained a steady barrage of words and images to get their anti‐ACORN ideas into the media and influence the agenda‐setting and news‐framing activities of the media."

This study is a sad commentary on the state of the media. It proves that a right wing radical agenda can be implemented through the use of their own media tools like Fox News and Limbaugh, and then by repeating the attacks regardless of factual basis can push them not only into the mainstream media, but have them echoed by candidates for President and now resulting in legislation from Congress.

Have we forgotten the horrors of the McCarthy era so quickly? How long will we let Rush Limbaugh and the Rupert Murdoch media empire hijack the media, and now Congress with distortions and outright lies.


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