Feature

Acorn's undercover video scandal

How filmmakers got lawmakers to cut funding for the community organizing group

"Acorn may be finally running off the rails," said John Fund in The Wall Street Journal. The Senate voted Monday to strip the Left's premiere community organizing group of more than $1.6 million in federal housing money, days after the Census Bureau severed ties with the organization. ACORN started losing supporters fast after independent filmmakers posing as a prostitute and a pimp got hidden-camera video showing ACORN workers providing advice on getting a housing loan and evading federal taxes (watch a video shot in an ACORN office, and watch Fox News' Glenn Beck discuss the latest Acorn video).

The Right is trying to turn Acorn into "the new Van Jones," said Alan Colmes in Liberaland. Which is to say that "the current criticisms against ACORN are, in part, an attempt to attack President Obama because he was once a lawyer who represented" the organization. But Obama was never an ACORN organizer, and ACORN was not part of Project Vote (a voter-registration drive Obama ran in 1992)—although Obama did represent ACORN in a lawsuit that successfully forced the Justice Department to enforce state compliance with a federal voting access law.

Whatever their goal, said Rod Dreher in BeliefNet, the filmmakers—James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles—"are making ACORN radioactive, and a byword for sleaze." ACORN, which says it has fired or suspended all the employees involved, says it's going to sue the filmmakers (watch an Acorn spokesman criticize FOX News for airing the videos). "Good luck with that." Giles and O'Keefe have shot damning footage in four ACORN offices across the country, so it will be hard to "assert that they're making a mountain out of a molehill."

James O'Keefe's "hidden-camera methods are distasteful," said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, "and the extent to which his videos were edited is unknown." But the footage is devastating nonetheless, which is "a shame because ACORN does worthwhile work in poor communities, helping people avoid foreclosure, giving them tax help, and, yes, registering them to vote. If ACORN is to survive and retain a shred of credibility, it needs to stop deflecting blame and clean house."

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