Back in April ACORN was exonerated when the Kings County District Attorney concluded there had been no criminality. But the damage had been done. ACORN had been all but destroyed, and the traditional media that had done so much to inflict the damage mostly ignored that news. As Joe Conason wrote on Wednesday:
Recalling Breitbart from his days as eager lackey to Matt Drudge, I warned from the beginning that nothing he produced would resemble journalism. More than once since then, I’ve mentioned the accumulating evidence of deception by O’Keefe and Breitbart in creating and then publicizing the ACORN tale. It was a "scandal" that became a national story only after wildly biased coverage on Fox News Channel, followed by sloppy, scared reporting in mainstream outlets, notably the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the national TV networks (some of whom flagellated themselves for failing to publicize this canard sooner!).
Investigations by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, among others, have served to exonerate ACORN of the most outrageous charges of criminality (while still criticizing ACORN employees and leadership). More important, from the perspective of journalistic ethics, those investigations revealed that the videotapes released and promoted by Breitbart’s website were selectively and deceptively edited to serve as propaganda, not news.
This raised a question that still hasn't been answered: Beyond blaming Breitbart, Faux News, and the gullibility of both Obama administration officials and Congressional Democrats, will the traditional media ever take a good hard look at themselves? Breitbart and Faux would not get away with their lies if the rest of the media weren't using their own bullhorns to blindly promote those lies, repeating without reporting, as has become their habit. Sources either prove credible or they do not, and Breitbart and Faux are not credible. Conason has a suggestion for those traditional media sources that promoted the ACORN smear:
So here at last is an opportunity for the Times and all the other media outlets that aided and abetted the ACORN fraud to restore a minimum level of standards and honor. Investigate Breitbart, O’Keefe, Giles and the making and editing of the ACORN tapes without fear or favor -- then report the findings on page one.
Otherwise, those traditional media sources will have proven that they are as lacking in credibility as are their fully discredited sources. Along the same lines, Greg Sargent challenges the traditional media to take the next step with story about the smearing of Shirley Sherrod:
Have any high profile traditional media figures come right out and said that Breitbart -- who admitted flat out that he received the Sherrod video unedited and posted it without tracking down the orignal -- has dealt himself a severe blow here?
Sargent is too kind. Once might have been a mistake. Twice proves something far different, and the media should be on it. Sargent:
It seems like a no-brainer that this would be the next angle on this story.
It's not about brains; It's about integrity and honor. In the coming days, we will see if those traditional media outlets still have any.