Harold Meyerson's 24 September WashPost column says what most of the media will not say:
-- ACORN is not a criminal enterprise;
-- The right has turned their guns on ACORN because it works for the poor and disenfranchised -- whom the right wants to keep poor and disenfranchised; and,
-- The legitimate media has failed in its coverage of ACORN.
Let's cut through the rightwing, Fox-generated bullshit and lay out some facts:
-- ACORN is not a criminal enterprise.
-- ACORN has not engaged in voter fraud of any kind.
-- When ACORN has discovered its staffers doing anything that smacks of illegality, the staffers have been fired.
-- Republikkkons and rightwingers hate ACORN because the organization works -- successfully -- on behalf of poor people, whom Republikkkons and rightwingers hate.
ACORN's major campaigns -- all of which have been successful -- were (1) raise the minimum wage; (2) curtail predatory lending practices by banks; and, (3) expand the electorate to include people who frequently do not vote.
The Republicans and rightwingers cannot tolerate any of these three successes because: (1) they want to keep working people as poor as possible; (2) they and their supporters and donors profit from sleazy banking practices; and , (3) they want to make certain that the only people who vote are white folks from the Baptist church and country club.
Quoting Meyerson's column:
For ACORN, Truth Lost Amid the Din
By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, September 24, 2009
So what does ACORN actually do, anyway?
The embattled community organizing group is much in the news these days, thanks to the idiocies of a handful of now-suspended staffers having been filmed and YouTubed by a right-wing sting squad. Most of the stories present ACORN as, at best, a shady organization up to no good in America's inner cities, not to mention the nation's primary source of voting fraud.
What's been obscured amid all the polemics, or the polemics passing as news reports, is what ACORN is and does. Founded in Little Rock in 1970 as an organization agitating for free school lunches, Vietnam veterans' rights and more hospital emergency rooms, ACORN has grown in the past four decades into the nation's largest community organizing group. Based in low-income neighborhoods, it has nearly 500,000 dues-paying members, recruited by door-to-door canvassers, with chapters in 110 cities in 40 states. Nationwide, it has more than 1,000 staffers.
What are the projects on which all these staffers and members work? Raising the minimum wage, for one. ACORN conceived and led the successful initiative campaign to raise the wage in Florida in 2004 and in four more states in 2006. In the past four years, it successfully pressured seven legislatures in other states to raise their minimum wage as well.
Another major campaign has been to limit the interest and fees that banks charge homeowners. In the 1990s, ACORN spearheaded a number of legal actions, often joined by states' attorneys general, that compelled such lenders as Citigroup to change many of their practices. The group has led successful drives to outlaw the most egregious predatory lending in nine states. It also counsels thousands of inner-city homeowners and home buyers.
ACORN's third focus has been to expand the electorate. In the 2007-08 election cycle, it registered 1.3 million new voters in the nation's inner cities. This activity particularly vexed many Republican politicians, who have repeatedly accused the organization of massive voter fraud.
. . .
Now, how much of this would you know from following the stories about ACORN that have been running in even the best of the media? Little to nothing, as Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College, and Christopher R. Martin, a professor of journalism at University of Northern Iowa, just concluded in an exhaustive study of news coverage of ACORN. Looking at the 647 stories on the group that ran in leading newspapers and broadcast networks in 2007 and 2008, they found that not only did a majority of such stories focus on allegations of voter fraud but also that 83 percent of the stories that linked ACORN to those allegations failed to mention that actual instances of voter fraud were all but nonexistent.
"Only a handful of the stories in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal," Dreier and Martin note, "mentioned that actual cases of voter fraud were very rare" --
. . .
Dreier and Martin also note that newspapers in cities where ACORN has long been active against predatory lending and in voter registration -- they studied the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Cleveland Plain Dealer -- provided more balanced stories and relied less on partisan sources than the national papers did. But with some national newspapers shuttering their domestic bureaus, the truth about ACORN -- the nation's premier tribune for the poor -- may be harder and harder to find.