Sliming James O’Keefe: A case study

James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles are the young activists who have blown the lid off the criminal left-wing enterprise known as ACORN. If they were left-wingers exposing some conservative or religious organization, government-funded or not, the mainstream media would have hailed them as heroic whistleblowers, perhaps worthy of a Time cover. Instead, the media are doing their damndest to slime them.
Michael Barone reflects here on how the Washington Post has treated O’Keefe and Giles in the context of the ACORN story:

The Post’s Thursday news story (headlined “ACORN to review incidents”) helpfully identifies Giles as “the eldest daughter of a conservative Christian minister in Miami.” (Questions for the reporter: Does it make any difference that she’s the eldest rather than, say, the second eldest? On what basis do you characterize the minister as conservative, and why is that relevant? You characterize the minister as “Christian,” but aren’t all ministers in the U.S. Christian, or are you just trying to distinguish him from a cabinet minister?).
The Post’s Friday story (“The $1,300 mission to fell ACORN”) reads as if the reporters were assigned to find out what nefarious right-wing outfit financed their operation and came up empty. They did manage to include two paragraphs on the beliefs on Giles’s father, apparently on the theory that it illuminates her motivation. Then it segues to an account by ACORN sources of how the two were thrown out of an ACORN office in Philadelphia when they mentioned 13-year-olds (but not when they mentioned prostitution?). I guess the idea is to discredit Giles and by inference O’Keefe as religious fanatics whose motivations should lead readers to disregard what’s on their videos.

More could be said about the second of these two Post stories in particular. The Post implies that there is something to the suggestion that O’Keefe and Giles’s work was not done independently: “O’Keefe insists that he and Giles’s work was done independently and rejects liberal suggestions that the videos were bankrolled by conservative organizations. He does, however, acknowledge receiving help and advice from a conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur.”
But the role of Andrew Breitbart’ — the “conservative columnist and Web entrepreneur” to whom Fears and Leonnig allude — was limited to publishing the videos and accompanying posts at Big Government, and plotting to publicize them upon publication. Isn’t that how publishing works?
More nefariously, the Post implies that O’Keefe and Giles worked with racist motivations:

Though O’Keefe described himself as a progressive radical, not a conservative, he said he targeted ACORN for the same reasons that the political right does: its massive voter registration drives that turn out poor African Americans and Latinos against Republicans.
“Politicians are getting elected single-handedly due to this organization,” he said. “No one was holding this organization accountable. No one in the media is putting pressure on them. We wanted to do a stunt and see what we could find.”

If O’Keefe had said something incendiary about a racial motivation for undertaking his investigation of ACORN, one can be sure that the Post reporters would have quoted it instead of simply larding the context with an imputation of racism. The Post certainly provides no supporting quote.
It appears to me that Post reporters Darryl Fears and Carol D. Leonnig are alone responsible for introducing race to the discussion. Associated Press reporters Sharon Theimer and Pete Yost pick up where the Post left off in this story:

James O’Keefe, one of the two filmmakers, said he went after ACORN because it registers minorities likely to vote against Republicans: “Politicians are getting elected single-handedly due to this organization,” O’Keefe told The Washington Post. “No one was holding this organization accountable.”

But did O’Keefe say any such thing? The Washington Post reporters imply the existence of a statement that is nowhere quoted. The AP takes the cue and puts the words in O’Keefe’s mouth. It’s quite a racket they’ve got going here, and someone really should call them on it.
I wrote both Fears and Leonnig this afternoon:

I write for the conservative blog Power Line. I believe you have defamed James O’Keefe, perhaps inadvertently, in these two paragraphs [of their Friday Post article]:
“Though O’Keefe described himself as a progressive radical, not a conservative, he said he targeted ACORN for the same reasons that the political right does: its massive voter registration drives that turn out poor African Americans and Latinos against Republicans.
“‘Politicians are getting elected single-handedly due to this organization,’ he said.”
Did O’Keefe say he targets ACORN because its voter drives turn out poor African American and Latinos against Republicans? Please supply the quote if he did.
I am going to post an item about your story later tonight. I would appreciate your comment before 11:00 pm Eastern time.

As of late this evening, we had not heard from Fears or Leonnig. If we hear back from either of them, we’ll let you know.
UPDATE: Reader Gordon Stewart writes: “I’m missing some important context: what did Woodward’s father do for a living? Hard to pin down his motivation otherwise. And Bernstein’s mom, what was her deal?”
Andrew Breitbart reviews the proceedings of this past week: “At the very least, filmmaker James O’Keefe and actress Hannah Giles deserve a Pulitzer Prize for their expose of deep corruption and unspeakable immorality at the ACORN housing division. But more important, I won’t rest until they receive a grant to continue their partisan artistry from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Breitbart concludes: “That’s this week’s mission.” Stay tuned.

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