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Deja Vu: O’Reilly Targets ACORN

Reported by Ellen - April 2, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

The election is over, right? And President Obama won, right? And the ACORN issued was hashed and re-hashed and re-re-hashed by Fox News last year, right? Okay, just checking.

Because, having failed Fox News completely by inviting a guest on his show who had good things to report about President Obama, O’Reilly got down to brass tacks and welcomed, you know, that purveyor guy, Dick Morris, to talk about . . . ACORN . . . and voter fraud . . . and -- big shocker -- ACORN’s links to President Obama . . . and the liberal smear/cover-up machine, this time in the form of that bastion of evil, the New York Times.

First, the conspiracy: According to speculation (O’Reilly admitted that’s what it was) by O’Reilly and Morris, the New York Times, during the campaign, had a story linking ACORN to the Obama camp in “voting shenanigans.” (Incidentally, this story made news last year, but was newly advanced by a Republican lawyer representing the Pennsylvania GOP, Heather Heidelbaugh, at a House hearing two weeks ago.

According to O’Reilly, New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom allegedly had a “whistle-blower,” Anita Moncrief (a former staffer for Project Vote, a sister organization to ACORN, who was fired for stealing -- putting personal expenses on the company credit card. Moncrief was willing to dish dirt on the ACORN-Obama link, but the New York Times pulled the plug on the story. “If the New York Times killed that,” O’Reilly intoned, it’s a “violation of every journalistic ethic.”

Excuse me while I choke and gag -- O’Reilly wouldn’t know a journalistic ethic if it perched on his shoulder and whispered sweet nothings in his ear. Although the New York Times released a statement saying that “political decisions played no role” in its decision to pull the story, and the Obama campaign denied any coordination with ACORN, O’Reilly and Morris weren’t buying it. It’s worth noting that ACORN claims Moncrief is simply a “disgruntled former worker.“ And, following the chain of sources, we have Ms. Heidelbaugh, a Republican recounting a hearsay story from fired-for-theft Ms. Moncrief who worked for Project Vote, and Stephanie Strom, the New York Times reporter who wouldn't confirm anything.

Morris was horrified that the Obama camp allegedly made its full list of donors available to ACORN (of course, the donor list is a public document), noting quickly that it was before the public filing. Not only that, Morris said that the Obama campaign released the list of all donors under $100 -- the same list, according to Morris, the campaign refused to release to the public -- and that is, he claimed, an illegal campaign violation. In this, Morris declared, ACORN was an “arm of the Obama camp.” Remind me, why are we talking about this again now? Oh, I think I remember, it’s because President Obama is a “rock star” at the G20 summit, when they were all hoping he’d get booed off the stage. And we can't forget O'Reilly's war on the New York Times.

Discussing “Anita,” the whistle-blower, O’Reilly stated that she could go to jail, to which Morris happily replied, “Unless she was President of the United States in which case she gets away with it.”

If the sheer speculation on the part of the right-wing shearers story that the New York Times killed the Moncrief story is true, O’Reilly professed, “The New York Times is out of the news business.” Bad journalists! (He should know.)

To advance the cause, Morris helpfully offered up the fact that when he was advisor to President Clinton, the New York Times came to him and told him that they didn’t want to pursue stories about Clinton’s Arkansas scandals, and in the same breath asked Morris for an interview with the President -- which Mr. Morally Upright gave them.

“Quid pro quo,” chirped O’Reilly (a quid pro quo Morris had no problem with when he was the guy negotiating with the New York Times, and the sort of deal with the New York Times O‘Reilly was decrying but elected not to criticize Morris for). Not only that, but Morris said the NYT actually gave him a list of questions in advance, which Morris reviewed and gave to the President. Wait, I’m confused -- is that bad?

Apparently this was the best Morris could do to smear the New York Times (does he think all his self-confessions of his decadent years with Clinton makes him look noble?), so O’Reilly moved on to brag that he’s been “reporting on press corruption” for the past five years. (Sorry, again, for all my choking and gagging -- must have something stuck in my throat.) O’Reilly summed up by saying that the “New York Times . . . got a lot of ‘splaining to do.”

Morris threw out another jab at the President, saying that people would “begin to understand how truly radical he [President Obama] is.”

So how come they’re just “breaking” this story now, you ask (aside from the fact that some GOP lawyer is pushing it)? I mean, this was a story during the campaign, and given the fact that Fox News turned into the ACORN Channel during the election, how come they didn’t send O’Reilly’s producer Watters out to bully this “Anita” and get the scoop and out the bad guys and change the game? Well, because it wasn’t really much of a story then and it’s not much of a story now. It’s speculation, a few pieces of a few things that don’t really make up a story, but when you’re O’Reilly, or a Fox Newsie, then you host someone like purveyor Dick Morris to “speculate” on all the illegal stuff President Obama could have been guilty of and all his nasty associations that could have existed and you quote yourself and each other and you fail to mention the prime whistle-blower and witness, Moncrief, is a fired thief and there you have it -- a story, Fox News style.