Archive for September, 2009

The Slander and Smearing of ACORN

09/28/2009

Let’s start out by acknowledging that the employees of ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) who were caught in an undercover “sting” that saw them encourage criminal and unethical behavior were wrong and should be fired.  The story of ACORN should end there.  However, because of the politically motivated vendetta which banks, insurance companies and the Republican Party and rightwing pundits have against ACORN, ACORN has been made into the poster child of corruption.  Both the corporate and rightwing media (Fox News) have slandered ACORN. A recent study by Peter Dreier EP Clapp Distinguish Professor of Politics, Occidental College found that of the news stories on ACORN:

• 70%  failed to quote ACORN
• 82.8% failed to mentioned that ACORN reported voter fraud
• 82.2% failed to mentioned that voter fraud is rare
• 11% falsely claimed that Obama worked for ACORN
• 76% focused on voter fraud
•  80.3% failed to mentioned that ACORN reported voter registration irregularities
• 85.1 failed to note that ACORN was acting to stop incidents of registration problems by its temporary employees
• 61.4% failed to acknowledge that the Republican Party was trying to discredit Obama with an ACORN scandal

The study exposes the media as being complicit with conservatives, Republicans and the rightwing in smearing ACORN.  What is disturbing about this is that ACORN was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior and activities by the media which took it cue from the rightwing.  Second, before genuflecting before the rightwing, neither the Democrats nor the media ask the obvious question: what have been the accomplishments of ACORN and should not this be balanced against what ever problems ACORN may have encountered.  What the media and the Democrats would have discovered is that besides engaging the marginalize, mainly people of color living in low-income areas, in the electoral process, ACORN has been on the front line in fight banks and insurance companies who were engaged in unethical business practices.

What is clear is that ACORN has played a constructive role in electoral politic and in correcting injustices in low-income communities.  Ironically, both Democrat and Republican elected officials have engaged in far more serious and reprehensible behavior than members of ACORN.  Yet, the media does not call for their extinction. Instead, they explain away their behavior or put the blame on a few bad apples.  ACORN deserves the same consideration.  For if it can happen to them, it surely can happen to your favorite organization.