A new report on ACORN and the media picks up where media Matters left off in this report, REPORT: ACORN OBSESSION: Beck, Hannity obsess over ACORN while virtually ignoring major corruption scandals. In this report the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute writes, Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN Was in the News, and What the News Got Wrong( there is a pdf to download at link)
Although ACORN is involved in many community activities around the country,
including efforts to improve housing, wages, access to credit, and public education,
the dominant story frame about ACORN was “voter fraud.” The “voter fraud” frame
appeared in 55% of the 647 news stories about the community organization in 15
mainstream news organizations during 2007 and 2008. The news media stories about
ACORN were overwhelmingly negative, reporting allegations by Republicans and
• In October 2008, at the peak of the campaign season, negative attacks dominated the
news about ACORN:
76% of the stories focused on allegations of voter fraud
8.7% involved accusations that public funds were being funneled to ACORN
7.9% of the stories involved charges that ACORN is a front for registering
3.1% involved blaming ACORN for the mortgage scandal
• The mainstream news media failed to fact-check persistent allegations of “voter
fraud” despite the existence of easily available countervailing evidence. The media
also failed to distinguish allegations of voter registration problems from allegations of
actual voting irregularities. They also failed to distinguish between allegations of
wrongdoing and actual wrongdoing. For example:
82.8% of the stories about ACORN’s alleged involvement in voter fraud failed to
mention that actual voter fraud is very rare (only 17.2% did mention it)
80.3% of the stories about ACORN’s alleged involvement in voter fraud failed to
mention that ACORN was reporting registration irregularities to authorities, as
required to do by law
85.1% of the stories about ACORN’s alleged involvement in voter fraud failed to
note that ACORN was acting to stop incidents of registration problems by its
(mostly temporary) employees when it became aware of these problems
95.8% of the stories about ACORN’s alleged involvement in voter fraud failed to
provide deeper context, especially efforts by Republican Party officials to use
allegations of “voter fraud” to dampen voting by low-income and minority
Americans, including the firing of U.S. Attorneys who refused to cooperate with
the politicization of voter fraud accusations – firings that ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
61.4% of the stories about ACORN’s alleged involvement in voter fraud failed to
acknowledge that Republicans were trying to discredit Obama with an ACORN
• 47.8% of the news stories about ACORN in October 2008 linked the organization to
candidate Barack Obama, most of them seeking to discredit him and his campaign
• The media bias against ACORN was evident not only in its focus on allegations of voter
fraud but also in the language used to describe ACORN, such as leftist, left-wing, front
(for Democrats), radical, activist, political, militant, and socialist.
• The attacks on ACORN originated with business groups and political groups that
opposed ACORN’s organizing work around living wages, predatory lending, and
registration of low-income and minority voters. These groups created frames to
discredit ACORN that were utilized by conservative ”opinion entrepreneurs” within
the conservative “echo chamber” – publications, TV and radio talk shows, blogs and
websites, think tanks, and columnists – to test, refine, and circulate narrative frames
about ACORN. These conservative “opinion entrepreneurs” were successful in
injecting their perspective on ACORN into the mainstream media.
• Perhaps the peak moment in the attack on ACORN occurred at the presidential
debate between Obama and McCain on Oct. 15, 2008. Although not asked a
question about ACORN, McCain injected the issue on his own, saying: “We
need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN,
who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in
voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.“
Clearly this statement was newsworthy. This study reveals, however, that
opinion entrepreneurs, the conservative echo chamber, and the mainstream
media had laid the groundwork for McCain’s attack on ACORN.
Writer-pundit Eric Alterman once said there is no hidden right-wing conspiracy, for the most part its out in the open. The secrecy part is not so much the problem as how the Right is covered. Obviously some people embrace it like sacred dogma, others do not fellow politics and do not care and then there is a corporate media that will not do its job on occasion. That media that does will usually be a newspaper – thus the Right’s general contempt for print media. Who should be reporting on the recent ACORN story in context of the Right’s history of attacks on ACORN – the folks that are supposed to be the watchdogs of American democracy. Its not that ABC, CNN and the rest have taken a lazy dog approach to just the pimp story, they have helped with conservative framing and propagation of that distorted framing.
In light of the Conservative Culture of Corruption, for conservatives to mindlessly yap about ACORN is like a bank robber complaining about the bars on his cell. List of Scandalized Bush Administration Officials
* Brian Doyle – Deputy Press Secretary, Department of Homeland Security – Resigned in wake of child sex scandal. Doyle was arrested on April 4th, 2006 and pleaded no contest on September 19, 2006 to seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and sixteen counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor. On November 17th, 2006 Brian Doyle was sentenced to five years in state prison and ten years of probation. He will also need to register as a sex offender.
* Steven Griles – Deputy Secretary at the Interior Department – is the highest-ranked administration official yet convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. In March 2007, Griles pleaded guilty to lying about his role in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Sentenced to 10 months incarceration.
* John T. Korsmo – Chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board from 2002 to 2004 – pleaded guilty in 2005 to lying to the Senate and an inspector general. He swore he had no idea how a list of presidents for FHFB-regulated banks were invited to a fundraiser for his friend’s congressional campaign. On the invites, Korsmo was listed as the “Special Guest.” Got 18 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.
More at the link.
Americans Pay More to Die Earlier — Why Is Our Health Care System So Screwed Up? or our health-care system is better then Slovenia’s,
In 2007, the United States spent an average of $7,290 per person on health care — 16 percent of gross domestic product. By contrast, our Canadian neighbors spent an average of $3,895 per person, or 10 percent of GDP. The British spent $2,992 per person, or 8.4 percent of GDP. And the Japanese, who have some of the longest life expectancies in the world, spend $2,581 per person, or 8 percent of GDP.
The numbers for the U.S. are ridiculous by any measure, even if all this spending was producing a race of super beings capable of outswimming sharks and defeating grizzly bears in steel-cage death matches. But no: most studies of the world’s healthiest nations don’t even place the United States in the top 10, and the World Health Organization ranks our health care system 37th, just ahead of Slovenia’s.