Fox News attacks ACORN over grant to give smoke detectors to low-income families

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Fox News' Bill Hemmer criticized the Department of Homeland Security for awarding a since-rescinded fire prevention grant to ACORN, ignoring that the Bush administration awarded similar grants to ACORN in 2007. Moreover, other Fox personalities and The Washington Times claimed that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) "made this public," even though the grant was reported on long before Vitter mentioned them.

Fox News' Hemmer: ACORN given "money typically earmarked for fire departments all across the country"

"Doesn't look like much firefighting there." Discussing a $997,402 fire prevention and safety grant awarded to ACORN by FEMA through the Department of Homeland Security, Hemmer juxtaposed file footage of fire trucks and ACORN workers to ask, "[W]hen it comes to firefighting, is this what you think of?" Hemmer went on to report that the funds are "typically earmarked for fire departments all across the country" but did not note that the grant was for fire prevention. [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 10/7/09]

But grant was for "fire prevention and safety activity," and ACORN received a similar one during Bush administration

Bush administration awarded ACORN similar grant in 2007. Hemmer did not note that ACORN received similar funding thorough the same program during the Bush administration. In 2007, ACORN applied for a fire prevention and safety grant through FEMA and was awarded $450,484 in August 2008.

ACORN was to distribute smoke detectors, other equipment. ACORN reportedly planned "to use the money to assess fire safety in the homes of low and moderate-income families and hand out smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other fire prevention gear." [Associated Press, 9/16/09] (Following Hemmer's report, The Hill's Tony Romm wrote in an October 7 blog post: "The Department of Homeland Security initially earmarked the money for ACORN long before House and Senate lawmakers mobilized to cut the group's access to federal dollars, but FEMA never followed through and provided ACORN the money.")

FEMA lists "community organizations" as eligible for grants in guidelines

From FEMA's Program and Application Guidance document:

A. Fire Prevention and Safety Activity

Eligible applicants for this activity include fire departments, and national, regional, state, local, or community organizations that are recognized for their experience and expertise in fire prevention and safety programs and activities. Both private and public non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for funding in this activity. For-profit organizations are not eligible to receive a FP&S grant award. For all grantees the Federal share of the project cost (i.e., amount of Federal award dollars) is limited to $1 million per application.

Conservative media suggest grant was covered up, but AP reported on it

Wash. Times: "The grant to ACORN's Louisiana office became public on Oct. 2." A Washington Times article by Audrey Hudson claimed that "[t]he grant to ACORN's Louisiana office became public on Oct. 2." The article also reported that "Mr. Vitter, who was routinely notified of the grant before it became public, sent his letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sept. 22." [The Washington Times, 10/7/09]

Kilmeade: "David Vitter made this public." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed "Senator David Vitter of Louisiana spoke up and said, listen, you've got to stop this, you've got to reverse this." Kilmeade went on to say, "So David Vitter made this public."

AP reported on the grants weeks ago. Despite these claims, an AP article reported - well before Vitter's September 29 blog post -- that "FEMA awarded $997,402 to ACORN in New Orleans on Sept. 4 as part of its Fire Prevention and Safety Grants program." [AP, 9/16/09]

Transcripts

From the October 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

HEMMER: Your neighborhood at night?

JULIET HUDDY (guest co-host): I'm not kidding you.

HEMMER: All of our neighborhoods at night. Racing like the sound of fire trucks on a call. But when it comes to firefighting, is this what you think of? Roll this and listen here.

[begin video clip]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ACORN!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ACORN!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mighty, mighty ACORN!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mighty, mighty ACORN!

[end video clip]

HEMMER: Is that the siren you hear, Juliet?

HUDDY: No. No, no, no.

HEMMER: Doesn't look like much firefighting there. We're told today the left-wing group ACORN was granted about a million dollars by the Department of Homeland Security -- that money typically earmarked for fire departments all across the country. That's the connection. Apparently DHS is now having second thoughts on that; we understand the money's been frozen so ACORN does not receive the money. It has been awarded, but it has not been doled out. They cannot cash that check.

HUDDY: We'll keep you posted on that, I have a feeling.

From the October 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Let's talk about this story this morning, because firefighters are going to lose a whole heck of a lot of money down in Louisiana. Apparently a $1 million grant that they were used to getting from the Department of Homeland Security is now going to be going to -- sit down, wait till you hear this: ACORN. ACORN is going to get this 1 million bucks instead of firefighters down in Louisiana.

Apparently some sort of a snafu, even though Congress voted to cut off all funding for ACORN just about three weeks ago; now they're apparently going to get this money instead of the firefighters. And by the way, that's 80 percent of the money that the firefighters would get in grants down in that state.

KILMEADE: So Senator -- yeah, so -- so Gretchen, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana spoke up and said, listen, you've got to stop this, you've got to reverse this. Because these firefighters want to use this money, for example, for grants to -- for low-income houses, to give them smoke alarms, maybe $120,000 there. So David Vitter made this public. And Governor Napolitano, who is now Homeland Security secretary, says, listen, I'm going to listen to Senator Vitter, but I don't negotiate through the press.

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Right.

KILMEADE: I keep it to myself.

DOOCY: Well, here's the thing. OK, so ACORN gets close to $1 million for fire prevention? What do they know about fire prevention and education and stuff like that? It turns out they actually got, in 2007 fiscal year, they got about half a million dollars.

Senator Vitter contacted ACORN and said, "What do you know about this? What are you going to do with the money?" And rather than actually say what they're going to do with the money -- because you don't think of ACORN as an outfit in the fire prevention business -- they attacked the senator.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, The Washington Times
Person
Brian Kilmeade, Bill Hemmer
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends, America's Newsroom
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