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Thursday, April 1, 2010

ACORN and Moral Corruption

Investigative journalist James O’Keefe III is a key player in exposing corrupt practices within Planned Parenthood and in the demise of the community-organizing group Acorn.

Acorn, the scandal-ridden Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, plans to close April 1. Political observers like Glenn Beck of Fox News call this move a “shell game” and charge that the same players are regrouping under new names.

In any case, Acorn’s funding dried up in September 2009 — shortly after O’Keefe’s hidden-camera videos surfaced online.

The videos show community activists advising O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp, and his 20-year-old associate Hanna Giles, who posed as a prostitute, on how to set up an international under-age prostitution scheme.

Although most major media outlets tried to ignore the 25-year-old filmmaker’s work, Acorn came under increasing public scrutiny as O’Keefe’s videos went viral on the Internet. Congress soon voted to defund the organization, which was already under investigation for voter registration fraud.

Read it all here.

1 comment:

ouini said...

I think I finally get it.

I was under the impression that you blog various stories *about* ethical or unethical behavior, and the subjects of these posts are used by your students to discuss morality and ethics.

But now I'm pretty sure that you also sometimes blog in a manner that is biased in one or several ways (e.g.: a mix of demonization and half-truths about Acorn), and then as an exercise in critical thinking, your students fact check the post, and explain how it (and media reports on ACORN in general) are biased, sloppy, or just plain state untruths.

Honestly, I think that's not a bad way to go about examining ethics, especially ethics in the media. Though, as a blog titled "Ethics Forum", my personal opinion is that one should make it clear that the blog posts aren't necessarily supposed to be seen as posts *about* ethics, but rather as devil's advocate learning tools for spotting such bias in the media.

I don't think I'd tipping off your students too much by pointing out the remarks meant to frame the Acorn conversation. Using words with preferred connotations like "journalist", "observer", and "scandal-ridden", instead of more accurate descriptors. Giving the accusers' side but not the accused's. Implying the video showed an actual event rather a spliced fiction. And reversing the actual media bias with an accusation of an unrelated non-breach of ethical journalism (ignoring a filmmaker's work) rather than their real bias, which was uncritically parroting false conservative allegations (Acorn committed voter or voter registration fraud, Acorn is a democratic front, Obama worked for Acorn, etc.).

I will say, though, that the whole Acorn myth can be exploded easily and thoroughly by looking into the names Richard Burman and especially Peter Dreier.