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Megyn Kelly And Molly Henneberg Baselessly Fearmonger About ACORN

Reported by Ellen - February 16, 2010 -

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Molly Henneberg teamed up for some textbook examples of Fox News’ GOP propaganda on Friday (2/12/10) as they engaged in rank fear mongering by conjuring up hypothetical scenarios of ACORN “potentially” receiving federal grants via Obama's new budget. The whole issue seemed to originate from talking points of Republican Congressman Steve King. With video. (Many thanks to Ana for her assistance with this post.)

Kelly, who has enthusiastically demonized ACORN in the past, started out by mischaracterizing ACORN as a “left-wing advocacy group.” In fact, the group advocates for the poor, not the left wing. But it was a nice way for Kelly to suggest that ACORN and Obama were aligned.

Kelly continued by saying ACORN “(is) finding a possible loophole that could cost you $4 billion dollars or so.” She added sarcastically, “That’s all, just $4 billion.”

She continued, “Congress passed a ban on funding the group and its affiliates last year but (Kelly changed her voice to sound like she had uncovered some big secret) deep inside the budget unveiled by President Obama is a special fund for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money that is supposed to go to states, towns just may find its way to ACORN.”

Reporter Molly Henneberg said, “These funds… it’s the Community Develoment Block Grants… and they’re supposed to go to local and state governments to be divvied out to projects that improve the community. And some critics say ACORN and its affiliates could have access to the money.”

Henneberg played a clip of Rep. King (R-IA) discussing the appropriation. He said, “There’s nothing that we could find in President Obama’s budget that where he would recommend that we not continue to fund ACORN. So the omission is something that gives them some room to operate.” Henneberg added, “ACORN is not legally allowed to receive new federal funding right now.”

Somehow, Henneberg forgot to mention that a federal judge has ruled in December that the federal government must continue to provide grant money to ACORN. She also forgot to mention that two investigations, one by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and another by the Congressional Research Service, have cleared ACORN of any criminal wrongdoing. By leaving that rather significant information out, Henneberg implicitly suggested that the Obama administration might break the law by awarding ACORN illegal grants.

Kelly, a lawyer, surely knew of the federal judge’s decision, as well as the outcomes of the investigations. But Kelly came down with her own curious case of amnesia.

Feigning balance, Kelly said, “But Molly, some Democratic strategists say that there is no way that the administration would try to sneak this in, given all the bad press ACORN’s gotten.” Kelly could have asked the obvious questions: how likely is it really that the administration would try to sneak money to ACORN? What were King’s grounds for believing such a thing might happen? She might have questioned whether King was using ACORN as a ploy to oppose the block grants or the budget. Instead, Kelly presented the issue in a way that neatly dovetailed with King's: as a question of Democratic truthfulness. Rather than getting an official White House or Congressional response, Kelly pointed to a political operative. Flimsy as this Democratic perspective was, Kelly nonetheless had completely excluded it from her introduction to the segment.

Henneberg replied, “Well, yes, and they say it was President Obama who signed the law on October 1st prohibiting federal funding for ACORN.” Henneberg just so happened to have a clip ready of Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist, saying, “From a perception standpoint, they (it was not clear if she meant Obama, Democrats or both) don’t want to be seen as facilitating funds going to ACORN. Until they can fully clear their name, then you certainly are not going to see this administration pushing for those kinds of funds going to ACORN.”

Henneberg concluded by suggesting that as soon as it was politically feasible, those funds might go straight to ACORN after all. “ACORN is suing the federal government, trying to get that ban lifted.”

“Thanks so much, Moll,” Kelly said, ending the segment.