Recent videos from two investigative reporters, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, with the help of Andrew Breitbart, showed that community-group ACORN engaging in scandalous practices. But MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued Sept. 24 that wasn't the story that mattered.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was hit hard by the videos showing employees giving tax avoidance advice to a "pimp" and "hooker."
But Maddow rose to the defense of ACORN which she called a right-wing "bogeyman," crusading for them on her MSNBC show. She accused corporations of going into "kill mode" against the organization which helps "poor people."
"Thanks to the right-wing crusade against it, ACORN has become a household acronym, and Republican America's most reliable trumped up bogeyman," Maddow said. "It was the sixth most covered story in the country last week. ACORN has been caricatured by people, like Congressman [Steve] King, as a corrupt, criminal enterprise that steals elections and turns a blind eye to prostitution. That's the storyline the mainstream media has latched on to, as well."
Maddow however, had another philosophy.
"What you might not know from all of the breathless ACORN damnation coverage is what ACORN actually does," Maddow said. "They do things like advocating for a higher minimum wage. They do things like helping low- income families file their taxes. They do things like helping low-income families find jobs. They do things like registering people to vote."
So with all those good deeds why was ACORN getting such bad press? According to Maddow it is because when corporations feel threatened they hire lobbyists and create "corporate-funded purportedly grassroots organizations" to hold the poor down.
"That sort of work, as you might expect, has the tendency to rile up the kinds of industries that really don't want minimum wage to go up and really aren't that psyched about lots of poor people being registered to vote," Maddow continued. "And as we discovered most recently in the health care debate, when industries sense a threat to their profits, they go into kill mode. They create corporate-funded purportedly grassroots organizations to derail and destroy whomever they believe to be the source of that threat."
Then Maddow produced her own bogeyman for MSNBC viewers, Richard Berman, who was a popular target of the left long before the latest ACORN scandal began. Maddow assigned some of the blame to Berman for giving ACORN a bad name (ignoring the prostitution scandal).
"Well, in the case of ACORN, I'd like you to meet Richard Berman," Maddow said. "He's a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist who is essentially a hired gun for corporations.
Say you're a company that doesn't really want the minimum wage to be raised. But you also don't want to be seen fighting ACORN yourself. What you do is you hire Richard Berman. And what you get is RottenACORN.com, a grassroots-ish looking Web site dedicated to destroying ACORN and its, quote, ‘political thugs for hire.'"
Maddow admitted people were well within their right to lobby against ACORN. She used that monologue to lead into a segment featuring Occidental College Peter Dreier, who authored a study entitled "Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN was in the News and What the News Got Wrong." He maintained ACORN was getting unfair treatment from the press - after being largely ignored.