Cracking the ACORN nut

Editor and Publisher published an excellent (albeit very long) analysis of the media's news coverage of ACORN and how 26 percent of Americans, including 52 percent of Republicans, came to believe the absurd claim that the community-organizing group somehow stole the 2008 presidential election. The piece by two college professors who've been studying the media coverage for a while presents some unsurprising evidence on how coverage from conservative Web sites bled over to more conventional media with little or no fact-checking. But their most important finding was that the only real sensible coverage came from metro beat reporters who worked the streets and, um, actually knew what they were talking about.

For example:

Because there had been some irregularities in Minneapolis-St. Paul in past elections, and because he “thought this would be a tight race,” Diaz decided to look into the allegations. After his investigation, Diaz reported on his findings published in a front-page Oct. 24, 2008 story.

Yes, there had been a track record of voter registration fraud, but that’s different from voter fraud,” Diaz said. Diaz also had a different explanation for the source of the voter registration fraud. “The irregularities were perpetrated against ACORN, not by ACORN,” Diaz said, noting that ACORN employees at the street level tried to scam ACORN by not doing the work and turning in phony registrations. When their supervisors discovered the scam, the employees were fired and their phony forms reported to local officials. As Diaz wrote in his 2008 story, “Of 43,162 voter registrations, ACORN has flagged 135 potentially ‘fake cards’ and fired 20 people who were involved in turning them in.”

In other words, these "fake cards" were people trying to steal money from ACORN for registering people who didn't exist. If the scam had worked and the money had been pocketed, these fake and non-existent people weren't going to show up and cast real votes for Barack Obama. That just didn't happen, anywhere; if it had, the Republican Party, which spent millions of dollars on lawyers and related Election Day activities, would have been shouting about it from here to eternity. And for the election to have been stolen, it would have needed to happen not once, but 9.8 million times.

People believe what they want to believe. Tonight on the way into the office, I was listening to WPHT's Dom Giordano as he interviewed Sen. Bob Casey, and as Casey patiently explained some of the things that are in the actual healthcare bill. This was immediately followed by several callers making the groundless blanket accusation that Casey didn't know what was in the bill and hadn 't read it, rather than acknowledge that they didn't really want to know what's in the bill, lest it shatter their illusions about Obama's "socialist takeover." Ditto with ACORN and its "plot to steal the election."

(h/t Suburban Guerrilla)