The media’s role in the prosecutor purge

by Jay Stevens

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker wrote yesterday about indictments brought against four registration recruiters working for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Missouri, and the indictments’ relationship to the prosecutor purge. Basically – and you should read it yourself – but US Attorney Bradley Scholzman rushed basically baseless allegations.

Four recruiters were indicted over six forged registration forms – turned in by ACORN itself.

The former U.S. Attorney for Little Rock Bud Cummins told Salon that in cases like this, the fraud is perpetrated upon ACORN, not by them. The organizers forge registrations in order to justify their $8.00/hour wages. Elyshya Miller, the organizer from ACORN, explained to me that the group frequently hires people who are in “desperate situations,” who “really need something at the time.”

That is, the organization policed itself, and was the victim of fraud. (Unlike, say, signature collection that was marred by “pervasive fraud.” Those organizations were, at best, indifferent to fraud.)

I won’t go into the details of the case itself, or how it fits into the prosecutor purge or the GOP’s phantom tilting at voter fraud in a bald attempt to discourage voting. What I want to talk about is hinted at in Kiel’s piece, where he mentioned the news of the indictments was covered by major news outlets. (Fox interviewed an elections official who said it was “the worst case of registration abuse in the last quarter century.”) And, as Steve Benen pointed out, five days before the election, the Wall Street Journal dedicated a front-page editorial to the case:

The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that “This national investigation is very much ongoing.”

The work was, of course, of a few yahoos.

What’s interesting to me, is to what extent major media organizations – in this case The Wall Street Journal and Fox News – rushed to support the allegations made by the “loyal Bushie” during a crucial moment in the 2006 elections. While the WSJ’s editorial is, well, an editorial, it’s obviously and shamelessly written in collusion with the Bush administration goals of crying voter fraud where there is none.

The question we should be asking, are these outlets working in collusion with the Republican party? Or are they rushing to judgment in support of an obvious conservative policy?

Because what’s clear is that they were concerned with neither the facts, nor journalistic integrity.

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