Old media interviews new media about old media; discuss

I’m back in action today, after a long weekend spent (finally) getting my family moved and settled in our new house. Apologies for the sparse blogging over those days.

When I did have a moment to catch up with the news over the weekend, this interview with BigGovernment.com operator Andrew Breitbart caught my attention. Breitbart’s Web site was the one that pushed the ACORN scandal that was unveiled in a series of videos last month (see the blue box toward the top of the BigGovernment.com home page).

In the interview, Breitbart argues that his biggest target in publishing the videos was what he calls the “Democrat-media complex.” Writes his interviewer, The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto:

“This plan wasn’t just a means to defend against the media’s desire to attack the messenger,” Mr. Breitbart says. “It was also a means to attack the media and to expose them . . . for the partisan hacks that they are.”

The interview appeared on the Journal’s opinion pages, and in it Taranto — no one’s idea of a left-winger — makes an argument defending, in part, the media’s approach to the story:

Partisanship was not the only reason for media resistance to the Acorn story. The approach [aspiring filmmaker James] O’Keefe and [his colleague Hannah] Giles used—lying to prospective sources or subjects—is grossly unethical by the standards of institutional journalism. Almost all major news organizations, including the Journal, strictly prohibit it. To be sure, there is a world of difference between employing such tactics and reporting on the results when others have used them. And there is no question that the pair’s findings were newsworthy. But journalistic discomfort with their methods is a sign of integrity, not corruption.

Taranto’s explanation would certainly be welcome in the media ethics class I took in college. Breitbart acknowledges in the interview that he was taking a risk in working with O’Keefe and Giles. Is the market disputing the idea that the reporting (or lack thereof) on ACORN was about more than partisanship? Is it shifting to reward Breitbart’s kind of risk-taking rather than traditional notions of media integrity? Something in between? Something else?

Market, speak.

40 comments Add your comment


October 19th, 2009
2:04 pm

“Breitbart argues that his biggest target in publishing the videos was what he calls the “Democrat-media complex…..It was also a means to attack the media and to expose them . . . for the partisan hacks that they are.”

So…a self-loathing political hack goes after an organization for the sole purpose of rooting out other partisan political hacks and actually scoops the WSJ on a story in the process. The WSJ busts out the word ‘integrity’ and claims some moral high ground.

Which one sold the most ads for Viagra, I wonder?


October 19th, 2009
2:56 pm

ACORN, NAACP and ACLU all need to go away..

Bryan G.

October 19th, 2009
3:19 pm

So, Professor Fink would agree with the journal?


October 19th, 2009
3:19 pm

I considered the ACORN story way down below 100 on my list of current events to track. With the problems facing the nation & the world I just thought it about as important as the Colorado balloon story last week. In short, I have more important issues on my citizens plate.

Real American

October 19th, 2009
3:21 pm

Yeah “Fix-it”, they can go away when Americans for Prosperity (that clown outfit), FauxNews and your leader’s blogsite Stormfront go away.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

October 19th, 2009
3:25 pm

That there are some unprincipled, shady, misfits in ACORN is not really that big a story. That a Republinazi shill would resort to lying isn’t a story either. That’s expected! Something that’s really interesting, however, is the Abramoff affair. He contributed lots of money to the Republicans and they contributed to him too. That was some serious hoin’!


October 19th, 2009
3:44 pm

It seems that anytime someone comes after ACORN, they always have something else to throw right back out there. I wonder why Obama finds the need to go after FOX News the way he is if he didn’t think what they were saying wasn’t true. Didn’t his momma ever tell him to just ignore it and walk away? I know mine did just about everyday and I am a better person for it. Makes you wonder what he has to hid. (I would still like to see that Birth Certificate Mr. President, if we are being so honest with each other.)

ACORN still has a few more nuts in it’s shell, just need to wait and see what falls off the tree.


October 19th, 2009
3:57 pm

Kyle, ACORN just ain’t that important. Not enough FEAR factor involved. Stir up our fear with something else. Fear is good. Long live fear. It’s what pays your salary


October 19th, 2009
4:14 pm

jconservative, I think what was probably important in the story was not only the taxpayer money that has already been wasted in this fraudulent organization, but the billions more they were to receive in the “stimulus plan”…although God would only know how ACORN is supposed to be job creating. Tax avoidance seems to be more their thing.

So from that standpoint ($8.5 billion in future appropriations stopped, I believe), the news was important. At least someone finally shown some light on this turd.


October 19th, 2009
4:18 pm

Why write about republican congressmen voting against provisions that would allow individuals employed by defense contractors (receiving multi-billion $$ contracts) to report crimes against them, when you can report about ACORN.

Ghetto Grandpa

October 19th, 2009
4:18 pm

Breitbart seems to be just as hypocritical as the “Democrat-media complex” he wants to expose. And Taranto and the WSJ go right along with it. Breitbart and WSJ only publicize the Acorn offices were the staff was idiotic or corrupt enough to go along with the scam. When Acorn says that four of their offices tossed O’Keefe and Giles, Breitbart points out that another office (Brooklyn) also went along with it. OK fine. But Breitbart never acknowledges (or releases) the videos of Giles and O’Keefe getting tossed by other Acorn offices. He simply avoids the issue.

That’s selective journalism. And Breitbart and Fox News/WSJ are being hyprocritical when they point the finger at the New York Times, et al, for only running stories (or slanting them) to fit their editorial position. I think they are right about the NYT, but the WSJ, Fox News and Breitbart are just as guilty of that as the NYT or CNN or anybody.

The are only two interesting things about this story: (a) that there are people in this country on the right and left that actually believe that anyone in the media is unbiased; and (2) that journalists claim to have ethics and will not lie to get a story.

Get real. No one is falling for that whopper.


October 19th, 2009
4:22 pm

I’ve known a few ACORNites over the years, and to call them communists (note the lower case) would be an insult to communists. They’re malcontents, misfits and cranks… the kind of folks that don’t get jobs because ‘they can’t work for the man, man’. But since hooking up with Soros and his ilk, they’re a well-funded bunch of cranks and misfits. The fact that Obama was involved with them in any way, shape or form keeps me from trusting him still.


October 19th, 2009
4:32 pm

Here’s the problem (without the ACORN sideshow), Breitbart in my opinion performs “agenda journalism”, so do I to a degree, but they are much different beasts. I always tell my subjects that I will write from my perspective but it is my goal to be fair. Breitbart doesn’t even pretend at fairness. He starts with a false premise (let the wailing from the conspiracists begin) and then sets out to prove that premise no matter what. He is not interested in the truth or fairness. He is only interested in driving to his pre-conceived conclusion. Interestingly, its exactly the way most creationist operate, but I digress.

Bottom line, it may be agenda driven journalism and he may be honest about that, but its not the type of agenda driven journalism to which I think anyone should aspire.

Class of '98

October 19th, 2009
5:13 pm


Understand that from a conservative’s point of view, every major newspaper, ABC, CBS, CNN and especially NBC engage in “agenda journalism”.

At least Breitbart is forthcoming about his political beliefs.

Until I can watch “NBC Nightly News” and not want to throw my shoe through the television because of the thinly-veiled liberal propaganda, I guess we’ll all just have to pick and choose which news sources we trust and those we don’t.

Class of '89

October 19th, 2009
5:32 pm

Class of ‘98: Truth and reality are not thinly veiled liberal propaganda. Conservatives are hypocritical fools.

Why was it ok to spend trillions on killing and maiming the Iraqi people but you pitch a fit when money is spent on our own citizens.


October 19th, 2009
5:50 pm

What has journalism got to do with it. Now that FOX News has been declared not a legitimate news source by none other than the White House, they certainly should not be measured by a journalistic yard stick.

I’ll keep watching though, because I like hearing information that the White House approved press sit on.


October 19th, 2009
6:29 pm

The ACORN tape tells us two things: that ACORN needs to apply better diligence to its hiring and retention practices, and that there are corrupt and morally bankrupt people living in the world. Attempts to generalize this completely anecdotal observation into an indictment against an entire organization are insupportable, and the accompanying outrage from the Right and wholesale censuring by politicians is disingenuous.

An earlier poster’s statement is well-taken; a single incident by a representative of an organization that neither codifies nor condones the behavior in question is greeted by sanctimonious outrage and instant action by Congress, while companies receiving no-bid contracts from the Federal government are allowed to indemnify themselves and their employees against legitimate charges of rape by other employees. Worse, the same sanctimonious Republicans who went into a tizzy because a single ACORN office engaged in inappropriate and illegal behavior refuse to vote against said defense companies being denied federal funds unless they remove their no-rape-prosecution clause from their employment contracts. Interesting sense of morality the Right-wing has.


October 19th, 2009
7:12 pm

integrity is fine as long as it doesn’t stand in the way of the truth. given the public’s lack of confidence in today’s media, i’m all for anyone that gets our politicians to sit up and take notice — forcing them to actually look at where our money has been wasted.

Simply the Truth

October 19th, 2009
7:50 pm

Obama is a balless political hack who blows (in the wind). He brags about his relationship with SEIU and ACORN but the minute sunshine comes to bear on his associations, he delegates the hatchet jobs to his flat-kneed worshippers to do what he doesn’t have the spinal column to do. Much of the media(NBC,ABC, and CNN)have “lost their bearings”, and it is a shame. They are participating in the dumbing down of America. I don’t even mention CBS, because, they have been a bunch of deadheads for a long time. Just consider Dan Rather as their “go to” and enough said.

Peace Lover

October 19th, 2009
8:09 pm

Jeeeeze, they were exposed for the corrupt group that they are…doesn’t matter how..

casual observer

October 19th, 2009
8:52 pm

Transparency????? what a damn joke. Obama has got a trail of deceit, lies and idiots a mile long. The real idiots are the American people for believing his crap. ACORN ,Obama, Rev Wright, Czars etc are all from the same ilk.


October 19th, 2009
9:00 pm

How can people who pimp for an administration, through public and private support, realistically be taken seriously when people claiming to be a pimp and prostitute scoop them on exposing a corrupt organization? Remember, ACORN was tangentially mentioned as being corrupt for quite a long period of time until an “acting pimp and prostitute”, exposed them. This, when real pimps would not, because it did not fit with their biased pimping for an administration.

Evidence for assertions?

October 19th, 2009
9:28 pm

“He brags about his relationship with SEIU and ACORN but the minute sunshine comes to bear on his associations, he delegates the hatchet jobs to his flat-kneed worshippers to do what he doesn’t have the spinal column to do.”

Please cite sources where Obama “brags” about said relationships?

“Much of the media(NBC,ABC, and CNN)have “lost their bearings”, and it is a shame. They are participating in the dumbing down of America.”

Similarly, please provide evidence to support this assertion. In what way have the referenced media outlet “lost their bearings”, and in what way have other media outlets maintained them? If objectivity is the goal, how do news outlets such as Fox maintain that objectivity? Or is it only conformity to your ideological and preconceived notions that defines appropriate media coverage?

“How can people who pimp for an administration, through public and private support, realistically be taken seriously when people claiming to be a pimp and prostitute scoop them on exposing a corrupt organization?”

How sad…you’re conflating “pimp for an administration”, which is a concept that you have assumed about the agency in question, with actual pimping, which was perpetrated by a couple of individuals associated with said organization. You’re basically condemning a national group based on the actions of two or three people associated with it. That’s not…exactly rational.

“Jeeeeze, they were exposed for the corrupt group that they are…doesn’t matter how..”

Mmmm…no. A couple of employees were exposed as corrupt. If you think that the behavior of a couple of employees indicts an entire group, then you must believe that an entire police department where one cop was proven to use excessive force is equally culpable. You must believe that an accountant who helps a client hide off-the-books money is representative of the entire profession. You must believe that an unethical lawyer in a particular firm indicates that the entire firm is unethical.

How stupid are you? You believe anything that supports your racial or politically motivated preconceptions. ACORN as a national entity is corrupt because a few people in one office do something wrong? Really? You attack Obama because he at some point in his career worked with said group? Amazing!

Rational thought is obviously not the strong point of Right wingers.

Evidence for assertions?

October 19th, 2009
9:29 pm

“Remember, ACORN was tangentially mentioned as being corrupt for quite a long period of time”

Mmmm…not really. ACORN was targeted by right-wing organizations for supposed voter fraud, ignoring the fact that ACORN itself reported the voter registration fraud in question. Because, you know, every group that is trying to commit voter fraud REPORTS ITSELF. Idiot.


October 19th, 2009
10:42 pm

Fact is, the media has ignored corruption and indictments of ACORN in state after state, long before these “gotcha” videos appeared. Protection of these Brown Shirts…oops, “activists” has been Mission One with the journalist sector, and it’s because of bias; pure and simple. It’s the same reason these outlets protected Communist Van Jones, and now Maoist Anita Dunn (both busted on video in their own words). I am so SICK of the Left trotting out the “ethics” canard…as if they ever had any. Liberals, I own myself…and I’ll NEVER let you enslave me with your silly distorted empathy fascism.

Oxymoronic Indulgence

October 19th, 2009
11:07 pm

Are you suggesting that an American citizen doesn’t have the right to ascribe to whatever political philosophy he chooses? Should “Communist” Van Jones or “Maoist” Anita Dunn (even though evidence that suggests that either of these people is actually either of these things is flimsy or manufactured AT BEST) apologize to you or anyone else for exercising their rights as an American to believe whatever they deem appropriate?

Exactly what kind of “American” are you? Apparently you are one who would have been much happier under McCarthyism. How dare you, sir? How dare you suggest that there are appropriate and inappropriate personal philosophies in a nation that prides itself on its FREEDOM. And to invoke the spectre of fascism where it is CLEARLY inappropriate (given that fascism is the expression of far-right political beliefs and you are applying it to those whom you claim are on the far left) indicates that you don’t really know what the hell you’re talking about.

Here’s a tip for you, buddy – here in America we get to believe whatever the hell we want. That’s kind of the beauty of America. You claim that you are a better American than the people you single out, but really, you aren’t. REALLY you would be much happier in a nation that adheres to the totalitarian system you pretend to abhor. After all, you are as intolerant of opposing positions as Mussolini, Franco, Stalin or Mao EVER were.

But nice try, buddy. I’m sure your rhetoric will fool all of the uneducated idiots in this country who don’t understand what freedom ACTUALLY means.


October 19th, 2009
11:19 pm

What wonderful commenter you have, Kyle.

‘Understand that from a conservative’s point of view, every major newspaper, ABC, CBS, CNN and especially NBC engage in “agenda journalism’

Saying it’s so does not make it so. I’d like to hear Kyle’s opinion on this old saw about his brothers and sisters in the business. Especially given he represents the ‘conservative point of view’.

And you still avoid one unassailable fact – Breitbart seeks facts to fit a conclusion. Under no guise is that journalism.

Simply the Truth

October 19th, 2009
11:25 pm

Hey, Evidence for Assertions, try Obama’s own words as “evidence”. You don’t get out much do you?


October 20th, 2009
4:14 am

“partisan hacks that they are,” sounds like Fox News. The propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

Churchill's MOM

October 20th, 2009
6:01 am

Our 2 wacked Senators, Johnny and Saxby, voted against making gang rape illegal. How did these 2 cavemen become Senators.



October 20th, 2009
8:14 am

ACORN does not deserve the target on it’s back. I am astounded the balanced truth (as opposed to the “fair and balanced” truth) about this 35+ year old venerable stalwart of community activism (mostly advocating low-cost housing for poor and middle-income families) has not come out in ANY press story yet.

Aloha Gator

October 20th, 2009
8:43 am

The leftie bloggers are freaking out…….

They’re losing the argument and they know it.

Glenn Beck’s numbers are skyrocketing !!! Up 20% !!

Even Nancy Pelosi is in big trouble in California. Fire the Democrats.

Bryan G.

October 20th, 2009
9:00 am

Churhill’s Mom:

They didn’t vote to make “gang rape illegal.” Did you even read the link you posted?

Senator Franken wanted to ban the gov’t from hiring contractors who don’t allow employees to sue them (but they can litigate through arbitration).

I definitely don’t agree with our Senators on this, but the truth is bad enough without saying that they’re trying to legalize gang rape. Come on.

Bryan G.

October 20th, 2009
9:00 am

Sorry…meant to say that they didn’t vote against making gang rape illegal.


October 20th, 2009
9:19 am

ACORN ABSOLUTELY deserves the target on their back for FAILING to police their own. Just as CONGRESS does for wearing the blindfold while doling out our money to WORTHLESS CAUSES like ACORN!


October 20th, 2009
9:21 am

The truth is that the two largest parties were sold to their respective orthodoxies a long time ago. Neoconservatives are contracted to protect their business interests, which is a form of corporate welfare, and the Democrat Progressives have leagues of lackeys to provide for, furthering their perpetual cycle of government warding.

Libertarians are the third largest party and with a system of Jeffersonian principles, it is the real party of freedom that the multitudes are calling for, but they won’t get it because both Democrats and Republicans are collectivists.

We missed the boat with Ron Paul, but perhaps we can convince him to work with the Libertarians instead of being a lone gun among country club republicans.

Churchill's MOM

October 20th, 2009
9:51 am


October 20th, 2009
10:17 am

Yeah “Fix-it”, they can go away when Americans for Prosperity (that clown outfit), FauxNews and your leader’s blogsite Stormfront go away

Who are you talking about? Who are Americans for Prosperity and Stormfront? As far as Fox News, what is the problem, I thought that liberal like a good healthy debate on the facts? Besides all the other so called news stations are in bed with Obozo, so why does one that does not agree with you such a problem? Did you lose your remote, are you to lazy to change the channel? It always amazes me how liberals all claim they want to hear other people’s views, as long as they agree with theirs… Seems funny how the liberals have resorted to name calling, try the facts for a change.


October 20th, 2009
10:41 am


Tuesday’s raids were given the name “Operation Nutcracker” as a play on the name of the Acorn gang, which is based at the Acorn housing project in West Oakland.

It’s not ACORN’S bleeding heart that spills onto the pavement in those housing projects.

Take the money and run.


October 20th, 2009
11:01 am

Acorn’s government ties that put them in a bind.

The nephew of former Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly was convicted last week of felony gun charges for a second time but he’s still working for the city as a meter repairman, a city spokeswoman said Monday.

William Lovan, a 28-year-old Concord man, pleaded no contest last week to a felony charge of carrying a concealed and unregistered firearm in a car after being contacted by Oakland police in June 2008 as part of their investigation into the activities of the Acorn drug gang. Oakland police describe it as the city’s worst gang and claim that Lovan is a member.