Andrew Breitbart Responds to Our Coverage (and the Whole, Rotten MSM's) of the ACORN Story
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Andrew Breitbart of Big Government, the web site that ran the ACORN pimp/prostitute videos, leading to the investigation that cleared ACORN of illegal activity in the events there recorded, didn't like our item on the investigators' report yesterday. But then, he doesn't like much of what's been written about it by the press.
The "massive coverage" to which we referred, he says, "was only Fox News and AM Radio. And then eventually the mainstream media acknowledged that this massive story existed, and then they immediately moved on to snooping into a golfer's love life."
The MSM has followed the latest turn of events in the ACORN case, Breitbart told us in a phone interview, because "it breaks into coverage only when it wants to point out when it thinks that we've struck out. It's like following Barry Bonds' home-run record chase and only breaking in for the strikeouts."
Breitbart took exception to our characterization of the filmmakers who recorded the ACORN sessions as "agents" of Big Government. "They're not agents of mine," he says. "I did not put them up to this. [Filmmaker James O'Keefe] came to me with this information, and I hired him as a journalist after the fact."
Breitbart also takes issue with calling the investigation "independent": "It's not independent by any stretch of the imagination... the people who put [investigator Scott] Harshbarger in charge, [former White House Chief of Staff] John Podesta and [SEIU President] Andy Stern, have a conflict of interest," in that they are on the advisory council of ACORN, which both hired Harshbarger and is suing O'Keefe, his colleague Hannah Giles, and Breitbart's company Breitbart.com LLC over the ACORN reporting.
He was annoyed that we referred to a "brief admission" at his site that "ACORN did in fact engage in no criminal wrongdoing." "I don't admit that," says Breitbart. "Hannah and James don't admit that. Some guy at the site that interviewed Wade Rathke admits this. You can interview him. I don't understand what the implication is. I have one voice and tons of writers -- I'm not consulting with them about what their opinion needs to be."
As to the investigator's claim that the video "appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover," Breitbart says that's misleading. He says a video of the Philadelphia sting presented at a D.C. press conference was edited into a 10-minute version for legal reasons: "Because the prosecutor could bring criminal charges for surreptitiously taping. So we showed the part that Hannah and James did," but not the ACORN employee.
Investigators at work. Via YouTube.
Even in that excerpt, Breitbart says, "You could tell that [ACORN] didn't kick them out." And he points to transcripts posted at Big Government (not including one for the Philadelphia incident) that he says show "we told the truth every step of the way." (Harshberger's report says that his team "reviewed the videos and the transcripts of the videos" and that "to date, the videographers have declined or ignored our interview requests.")
Throughout our interview, Breitbart railed against ACORN ("they don't help the poor, they keep them dependent on a completely corrupt system"), the "false standard" of mainstream media journalism that he finds unfairly applied to O'Keefe's reporting ("when Morley Safer does an investigation, do you see every minute, every second that they shot? They edit it for effect"), and the media's attempt to "whitewash" ACORN. He compared his reporters to Upton Sinclair, and called the ACORN scandal "the Abu Ghraib of the Great Society."
Breitbart promises more ACORN coverage, and that it will not be pretty: "The L.A. [ACORN] guy didn't help [Hannah and James]. Didn't kick them out, but he wasn't very helpful. That's the closest thing to an exculpatory video. There will be no more exculpatory video. The rest is just like the rest."