RedState's ACORN "exclusive" based on theft? Another questionable tactic in conservative assault on Obama, ACORN

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In a recent "exclusive" report, RedState.com editor-in-chief Erick Erickson analyzed "a list of [ACORN CEO] Bertha Lewis's contacts" that "just showed up one day unsolicited" from "a credible source who is no fan of ACORN," and claimed, "We did not ask for it. We did not expect to get it. But now that we have it, we should see who is in there." In analyzing a private contact list apparently obtained without Lewis' knowledge or permission, conservatives, in their obsessive quest to attack ACORN, have added possible theft to a growing list of questionable tactics that include the secret taping of ACORN employees, lying about whether any ACORN officials turned away filmmaker-activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, and secretly taping a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) phone conference.

Erickson runs with "leaked" "list of Bertha Lewis's contacts" obtained from "no fan of ACORN"

From Erickson's September 22 RedState.com post:

With everybody focused on ACORN these days, what if we could dig around and see who in the Obama administration shows up in Bertha Lewis's rolodex? Bertha Lewis is the CEO of ACORN.

Bertha Lewis is considered one of the 100 most influential women in New York according to Crain's New York Business. She is an activist, organizer, and radical of the far left. When she calls, union bosses and others pick up the phone.

It's not that hard to look into her contacts. RedState has seen a list of Bertha Lewis's contacts. We did not seek it out. It just showed up one day unsolicited. We did not ask for it. We did not expect to get it. But now that we have it, we should see who is in there.

The contacts came from a credible source who is no fan of ACORN. An ACORN employee gave it to him. Having examined the file for a week and after consulting with others, we believe the list is legitimate. It fits a recent pattern of leaks out of ACORN as the rats scramble from the sinking ship.

Does Eagle Publishing condone theft?

RedState.com purchased by Eagle Publishing Inc. RedState.com is owned by Eagle Publishing Inc., the parent company of Human Events, Regnery Publishing, and the Conservative Book Club. Eagle is led by Thomas L. Phillips and Jeffrey J. Carneal, both of whom have careers built around conservative activism.

Possible theft the latest questionable tactic in conservative campaign against Obama officials, ACORN

Over the period of several weeks in late August and early September, Fox News host Glenn Beck and Matt Drudge protégé Andrew Breitbart have heavily promoted and strategically leaked secretly recorded audio and video files in an effort to -- in Breitbart's words -- "force the reluctant hands of ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post." At the same time, Beck and Breitbart repeatedly attacked former White House adviser Van Jones in an effort to -- in Beck's words -- "chang[e] the course of the conversation."

O'Keefe, Giles secretly recorded ACORN employees; Breitbart hatched distribution strategy. O'Keefe and Giles, also a Townhall.com columnist, obtained video of several ACORN employees without their knowledge, and at least one state attorney general has raised legal issues with the tactic of secretly filming conversations. O'Keefe first posted his secretly recorded video on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. Portions of the video were subsequently replayed and discussed numerous times on Fox News and other media outlets. Following O'Keefe's post, Breitbart wrote on BigGovernment.com about how O'Keefe contacted him in August to pitch his "independent film investigative journalism project." Breitbart, in a September 21 Washington Times column, described "a multimedia, multiplatform strategy" to leak the videos through Fox News "designed to force the reluctant hands of ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post."

From Breitbart's September 21 Washington Times column:

When filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe came to my office to show me the video of him and his friend, Hannah Giles, going to the Baltimore offices of ACORN - the nation's foremost "community organizers" - dressed as a pimp and a prostitute and asking for - and getting - help for various illegal activities, he sought my advice. In the past, Mr. O'Keefe created brilliant social satire that rocked his college campus and even made its way on to the talk-radio and cable-news shows, but the magnitude of his latest adventure had the potential to rock the political establishment.

I was awed by Mr. O'Keefe's guts and amazed by the footage, but explained that the mainstream media would try to kill this important and illuminating expose about a corrupt and criminal political racket, and that the well-funded political left would go into "war room" mode, with 25-year-old Mr. O'Keefe and 20-year-old cohort Miss Giles in the cross hairs. I felt I had a moral obligation to protect these young muckrakers from the left and from the media, and to devise a strategy that would force the media's hand.

Once the American public saw with its own eyes the grotesque, common practices of ACORN's housing offices, Mr. O'Keefe and Miss Giles could no longer be a legitimate focus of media scrutiny. "Kill the messenger" doesn't work with the American people when they realize that the message is so devastating and honest. I think the video exposed the misuse of public funds and systemic manipulation of the tax code in the name of "helping the poor."

If Mr. O'Keefe dumped the videos on YouTube, the political powers would have killed the expose before it got traction. I half-joked that he should secretly tape pitching the major television networks exclusive use of his videos for their nightly news broadcasts. But a simpler, less controversial method proved as fruitful.

I told him that in addition to launching his compelling and stylized Web videos, we needed to offer the full transcripts and audio to the public in the name of transparency, and to offer Fox News the full footage of each video before each was released. We had to devise a plan that would force the media to see the evidence before they had enough time to destroy these two idealistic 20-something truth seekers. Mr. O'Keefe agreed to post the full audio and full transcript of his video experiences at BigGovernment.com.

Thus was born a multimedia, multiplatform strategy designed to force the reluctant hands of ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post. [The Washington Times, 9/21/09]

Beck facilitates "strategy" of releasing O'Keefe, Giles videos. During the September 9 edition of his Fox News program, Beck previewed an "exclusive" that would air on his program the next day, which he claimed would make "things change a lot for those in power." Beck later aired snippets of O'Keefe's and Giles' first video to be released. At 6:10 a.m. ET September 10, O'Keefe posted the video on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. Later the same day, on his Fox News program, Beck interviewed Giles and credited Breitbart for starting the story.

O'Keefe's, Giles', and Breitbart's claims that every ACORN office was complicit undermined by police report. O'Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart repeatedly appeared on Fox News programs to claim that they were never turned away at any ACORN office, but those claims are undermined by the fact that ACORN officials in Philadelphia contacted the police in response to O'Keefe's appearance in the Philadelphia office. A September 22 Associated Press article further reported that California police say than an ACORN worker contacted them about "possible human smuggling."

O'Keefe's dismissal of ACORN's claim that "the videos were doctored" undermined by evidence that they were. O'Keefe reportedly dismissed Bertha Lewis' claim that the secretly filmed videos were doctored, stating, "They've lied every step of the way." But one video that reportedly "left out" an ACORN employee's statement that it would have nothing to do with a prostitution business undermines O'Keefe's claim. According to a report by CNN's Casey Wian on the September 17 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, the filmmakers edited San Bernardino ACORN organizer Tresa Kaelke's statement from one of the videos that ACORN would not associate itself with prostitution. Wian said: "Left out of the originally released tape but included in a transcript the filmmakers later released is Kaelke's statement that ACORN would have nothing to do with their prostitution business."

Breitbart, Beck distribute "secretly taped" National Endowment for the Arts phone call

Breitbart's blog publishes artist alleging NEA pushed art community to advance administration's agenda. Artist Patrick Courrielche alleged in a BigHollywood.com post that in an August 10 conference call "hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve," artists "were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to" issues such as health care, energy, and the environment "as we had brought to Obama's presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues."

ABC News: Courrielche "secretly taped" NEA call. Courrielche posted audio recordings from the phone conference and transcript at BigGovernment.com. In a September 22 ABCNews.com blog post, senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper reported that the August 10 NEA conference call was "secretly recorded by Los Angeles filmmaker Patrick Couriellech [sic]."

Beck interviews Courrielche, promotes allegations of "propaganda machine." Beck promoted and interviewed Courrielche for the first time on September 1, introducing him as "a contributor on Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog" and "the guy who was brave enough to not only tape [the conference call] and then bring it here." While discussing Courrielche's allegations, Beck said that the "people involved in a conference call, including the White House, knew that this was on the fence, if not outright illegal. They knew for sure that this would outrage you if it would ever get out." Beck again promoted Courrielche's allegations on September 2, saying that NEA spokesman Yosi Sergant, a participant in the conference call, "is creating a propaganda machine for the president of the United States and that is wrong."

Beck credited for Sergant reassignment. ABC News' Yunji de Nies reported on September 10 that "[l]ast week, FOX News' Glenn Beck spent a solid amount of airtime blasting Yosi Sergant -- then-National Endowment for the Arts' spokesman -- accusing him and his agency for using government tax dollars to create propaganda for the Obama Administration. Today, the NEA says Sergant has been reassigned." The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim wrote that "the move represents a significant step down and was the result of the controversy."

Beck credits Breitbart for breaking NEA story. On the September 11 edition of his radio show, Beck said Breitbart -- not him -- "broke" the NEA story: "I saw in The Washington Post today, there's a new story. It says Beck strikes again; Yosi Sergant reassigned at the NEA. This is a story that I didn't -- I didn't break. Stu, who was it that broke -- this was Breitbart. This is again another Breitbart story."

Breitbart claims new "mission" -- helping O'Keefe, Giles "receive a grant to continue their partisan artistry from the National Endowment for the Arts." In his September 21 Washington Times column, Breitbart claimed, "At the very least, filmmaker James O'Keefe and actress Hannah Giles deserve a Pulitzer Prize for their expose of deep corruption and unspeakable immorality at the ACORN housing division. But more important, I won't rest until they receive a grant to continue their partisan artistry from the National Endowment for the Arts. That's this week's mission." [The Washington Times, 9/21/09]

Breitbart, Erickson, Beck have a long history of smearing progressives

Breitbart has repeatedly smeared progressives. Breitbart in the past has posted a series of Twitter messages just after the death of Sen. Ted. Kennedy, in which he called Kennedy a "villain," a "duplicitous bastard," and a "prick" who "destroyed lives"; wrote on his Twitter account: "Van Jones! If Obama isnt racist, why does he hang out w so many who are? Or is his explanation Spike Lee's: Black people CAN'T be racist?"; claimed in an August 3 Washington Times column that the "Democratic Party -- which is now Mr. Obama's party -- now depends on the ability to keep blacks in fear: of cops, of Republicans, of conservatives, of 'Uncle Toms,' and even of Tiger Woods, who proves that America, while still imperfect, is clearly heading in the right direction"; and stated in a June 15 column, "David Duke and James von Brunn currently share more in common with Markos Moulitsas and Arianna Huffington" than conservatives.

Erickson defended Beck for calling Obama racist, traffics in violent rhetoric. Erickson has previously defended Beck's assertion that President Obama is a "racist," claiming that "it's not a stretch to say it." Erickson went on to call for a boycott of companies that have pulled out of Beck's show and who, according to Erickson, are "kowtowing to Barack Obama's worshippers, brownshirts, goons, and thugs." Erickson also appeared on the April 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity to claim, "If we don't do something, if we don't turn the corner, we're going to be enslaved to the government." Erickson further wrote in a March 31 post on RedState.com: "At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator's house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?" Erickson later added: "Were I in Washington State, I'd be cleaning my gun right about now waiting to protect my property from the coming riots or the government apparatchiks coming to enforce nonsensical legislation."

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Erick Erickson
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