As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jerry Brown Winning Hearts And Minds By Playing Into Republican Fear Tactics

Just days after forming an exploratory committee to enter the race for Governor, Jerry Brown has decided to follow the likes of Andrew Breitbart and Arnold Schwarzenegger by opening an investigation into ACORN:

In a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dated Sept. 25, Chief Deputy Attorney General James M. Humes said the office has "opened an investigation of both ACORN and the circumstances under which ACORN employees were videotaped." The governor had asked Brown two weeks ago to look into the incidents.

The probe was sparked by a series of hidden-camera videos in which a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute are advised on how to set up a prostitution business by people identified as workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The videos were taken in Washington D.C., San Diego, San Bernardino and cities in several other states.

There's at least a nod to the possibility that the videotapes were obtained illegally, although I'm not sure California law mirrors the state of Maryland, where the filmmakers clearly violated the law. But the tendency for Brown to follow Governor Headline and chase the popular story is pretty lame. Remember that the Governor specifically called on Brown to investigate ACORN because of the San Bernardino tape, which is full of holes:

Most critically, it is clear that Fox News has made virtually no attempt to verify the authenticity of the tapes before broadcasting them -- something no self-respecting journalistic organization would dare do. Consider the case of the San Bernardino ACORN office, which was featured in the most recent video to be released. The words of ACORN employee Tresa Kaelke appear to be damning. Not only does she offer assistance to Giles and O'Keefe, but she claims that she murdered her former husband following a period of domestic abuse [...]

The problem, of course, is that Kaelke was deliberately lying. The San Bernardino Police Department itself has now confirmed that her claim regarding her husband was untrue. A department statement released on September 15 reads: "The San Bernardino Police Department is investigating the claims made regarding the homicide. From the initial investigation conducted, the claims do not appear to be factual. Investigators have been in contact with the involved party's known former husbands, who are alive and well."

Furthermore, Kaelke has claimed that when she made the statement, she was seeking to mislead the undercover videographers, whom she was suspicious of. "They were not believable," Kaelke is quoted as saying in an ACORN press release. "Somewhat entertaining, but they weren't even good actors. I didn't know what to make of them. They were clearly playing with me. I decided to shock them as much as they were shocking me."

But none of these simple facts stopped anyone at Fox from running with the story. Any cub reporter would have thought to actually call the San Bernardino police before effectively alleging that ACORN was staffed by murderers. But such an act never occurred to people like Beck, Hannity, or Carlson. (In her defense, Carlson later added that the husband was still alive, "according to ACORN," but ignored the police report.)

Let's be honest. Fearmongering about ACORN is a cover for a racially tinged agenda by ideological extremists. If the actions of a couple employees provokes a state Attorney General investigation of entire companies, I eagerly await the investigations into every company in California. But we don't have that. Instead, Jerry Brown has decided to follow the fearmongering, and legitimize it. Sad.

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