ACORN Takes Some Mainstream Heat

Previously a topic for conservative blogs and their enraged liberal attackers, ACORN has moved to editorial pages as scandal grows

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With recent news of a sting operation, the debate over conservatives' bugbear, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is making its way into the mainstream media. The news, as reported in detail by Rich Lowry of the National Review today, is that a "guerilla conservative documentarian" posed as a pimp needing tax advice for a prostitution business, and was aided by ACORN workers saying they didn't "discriminate." In responding, Lowry didn't pull any punches: "Is it a defense if only a few of your offices abet sex slavery? ... How much training does it take to recoil at criminality?" As for federal funding of the group:

This must stop. It's as if the government contracted with a right-wing militia to conduct gun-safety courses. After the voter-registration scandals of last year, Republicans agitated for a congressional investigation of the group. Democratic Rep. John Conyers initially agreed, then relented. “The powers that be” in the House wanted him to back off, he explained. Time for the powers that be to reconsider.

But the real surprise of the day is that more mainstream and liberal news outlets are weighing in on the debate. Coinciding with a Senate vote to cut ACORN funding, editorial boards and bloggers are beginning to sour on the organization:

  • Time to Face the Facts  "Let's face it," wrote the editors of the New York Post, "ACORN is a scam. It needs to be treated accordingly."
  • Problems with ACORN? Or Problems with Poverty?  Noting that "ACORN versus conservatives" is beginning to look like a "battle to the death," Frank James on NPR's blog The Two-Way had a different take. He asked readers to remember that "ACORN's workers are coming from the same low-income neighborhoods the organization serves," and that  "flaws conservatives are pointing out about ACORN are not so much problems associated with that organization per se but more about the problems of being poor and minority in urban America."
  • The Former--And They Need To Be Addressed  "ACORN may claim it's being unfairly singled out," wrote the editors of the Baltimore Sun, "but somehow, other grass-roots advocacy groups don't have these problems." By seeking to play down its very serious issues, ACORN will "hurt its own cause."
  • Problems with the Media  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air was outraged that it took the mainstream media this long to pick up the ACORN prostitution story. But he was not surprised: "After all, they did manage to report on the Van Jones story after his resignation."

Update, 8:00a.m.: The Los Angeles Times, often accused of a liberal bent, has joined the chorus, calling the videos "shocking" and demanding action: "If ACORN is to survive and retain a shred of credibility, it needs to stop deflecting blame and clean house."

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