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Laura Ingraham on The O’Reilly Factor Welcomes Rev. Eugene Rivers . . . Does His Background Make ACORN Look Like the Girl Scouts, Or What?

Reported by Julie - December 13, 2009 -

Oh, boy, here she is again -- she of the lovely crucifix that I keep expecting to see burst into flames as it hangs over a heart as black as coal. On last night’s (12/11/09) O’Reilly/Unresolved Problem Segment, Laura Ingraham gloated that black lawmakers are in a “heated dispute” with the President over what President Obama is (or isn’t) doing to help the black community blah blah blah. That’s not the really notable part, though (I’ll post about that later) -- that’s just Ingraham’s usual nasally knee-jerk whine about the President. What’s notable is the background of Ingraham’s warmly welcomed guest, a staunch supporter of Bush’s faith-based initiative, and, in a classic Fox-News-reviled quid pro quo, a Bush federal-funding recipient, Reverend Eugene Rivers. This guy’s past makes ACORN look like the Girl Scouts, highlights the hypocrisy of Fox for its smear-fest against Kevin Jennings, and once again proves that Fox doesn’t care who its hosts associate with (Hal Turner, anyone?), as long as the guests' positions mirror the right-wing Fox News theme. With video.

To briefly summarize, Rivers was brought on to talk about President Obama’s approval ratings with African Americans, particularly since unemployment among black males is the highest in the nation. Rivers didn’t give President Obama high marks, and prophesied that if President Obama didn’t step up his act for black voters, he’d “lose his base.” For the record, Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell did a nice job of pushing back, which I’ll post on later.

But for now, let’s talk about the good Reverend. Rivers is a bit of an enigma. He’s a former gang member and a black street activist (could almost be called a community youth organizer, hmmm?) who apparently works effectively within the African American community. However, he’s not without warts . . . and in fact, O’Reilly and Beck probably should have launched an investigation into Rivers as avidly as they did into ACORN.

As one story goes, Rivers was Director of the Ella J. Baker House in Boston, which is a halfway house for ex-offenders – and he received a whole bunch of government money. After a rape occurred at the Baker House, and Rivers allegedly tried to talk the 17-year-old victim out of reporting the assault, a Grand Jury took under consideration whether he’d broken the law. In the end, Rivers wasn’t indicted. However, following this mess, the state Department of Youth Services distanced itself from the Baker House, and canceled its two-year, $65,000 contract. Boston Mayor Menino “ordered an audit into the more than $500,000 in Boston Police Department grants that have gone to the Baker House, and has quietly disavowed his relationship with Rivers, all but assuring no more city money will be sent his way. And Governor Mitt Romney, who a month earlier had called Rivers's work ‘essential’ in quelling gun violence in Boston, decided to nix a $350,000 Baker House grant. Even the Bush White House, a staunch supporter of Rivers, has finally had enough. In September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the Herald it was reviewing the $75,000 in federal grants Rivers has used to help run his programs.” In the wake of the scandal – and the appointment of a former prosecutor to head the Board of Directors of the Baker House – Rivers stepped down, but denied any wrongdoing.

As reported by Boston Magazine, Rivers has also been accused of using his street creds and street thugs to bring people into line. One former enforcer said, “He would send his people after pastors he had a beef with, and those people would be ordered to say, ‘Do you want a problem with Eugene?’” On two notable occasions, Rivers was thought to be involved in retribution beatings. One victim, Gerald Jones – who claims he was kicked out of the Baker House by Rivers for being a Muslim, and who later filed a complaint – was severely beaten by individuals who told him, “This is for Eugene.” In a second incident, a 15-year-old named Kuron Cox, who Rivers had accused of throwing eggs at his house, was beaten so badly he spent four days in the hospital – and some believe that Rivers was behind the assault. Cox later said of Rivers, “’Rivers is straight-up Training Day . . . Only white people and government officials don’t know what he is. People in the neighborhood are real clear on what he represents.”

Rivers is also opposed to gay marriage, and in December 2008, on Hardball, Rivers unsuccessfully attempted to defend pastor Rick Warren’s anti-gay rhetoric. Rivers was also a “leading proponent” of the Bush faith-based initiative, and the recipient of “faith-based partnership grants” (in fact, between 2000 and 2004, Rivers received $4 million in state, federal and private funding for the Baker House). Is it just me, or is it sounding like this guy is the right’s version of what it believes ACORN to be? And is it just me, or have I missed all the segments on Hannity and Beck and O’Reilly and America’s Newsroom where they covered the corruption, and even violence, which appears to have existed at the Baker House, which Rivers was in charge of and which received taxpayer dollars?

It shouldn’t shock anyone that Fox News selectively edits out negative information about guests who spout the lines it wants to hear. And as if that’s not bad enough, we have a Fox Hypocrisy Two-fer: Failing to report a sexual assault? Hannity and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, among others, launched an all-out assault on Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s education czar, misrepresenting the facts and talking like he should be boiled in oil and run out of town on a rail (in addition to calls for him to be fired from the Obama Administration) for what they described as his failure to report a sexual assault of a minor – something that turned out to be untrue anyway, and for which Fox News (quietly) issued a correction. But I suppose it’s all right for Rivers, a conservative bible-thumper, to try to talk a 17-year-old rape victim out of reporting the rape.

So here we have Rivers, a guy with a hot temper and connections to a bunch of criminals at the Baker House, we’ve got potential corruption and violence within an organization that accepts government money, and instead of launching an ACORN-style investigation into Rivers, Ingraham (and by default, O’Reilly and Fox) exalts him as a spokesperson for the black community and uses him as a talking point. Refresh me – because I only wrote about eight gajillion posts about it – but wasn’t one of the things that horrified Fox News the most about ACORN was what it termed government-funded corruption? Wasn’t Fox quaking in its right-wing boots about ACORN doing the census, and voter fraud, and brothels – and even with all that, I never heard anything about ACORN sending violent thugs into the streets to beat people into voting Democrat.

There’s some saying about the ACORN not falling far from the tree – or was it fruit? – but anyway, if, as Fox likes to point out about President Obama’s past associations, water does seek its own level, I’ll be waiting for Laura Ingraham to throw up a gang sign.