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Awful: ACORN Will Shut Down For Good

Following months of relentless attacks by Republicans over a manufactured scandal, the poor people's advocacy group has announced that it will permanently shut its doors.

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That investigations as well as several others conducted over the past several months cleared ACORN of any wrongdoing. Moreover, a federal judge ruled that a bill passed by Congress to "defund" ACORN in response to the highly edited videos was an unlawful Bill of Attainder. But by then the damage had already been done as ACORN's finances already began to dry up.

On Sunday, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt conceded that he was wrong and the Times was wrong in defending the newspaper's continuous claims that O'Keefe and his associate, Hannah Giles, were dressed as a pimp and prostitute when they visited ACORN offices to secretly, and illegally, tape employees. Yet Hoyt still defended the paper's characterizations.

O’Keefe almost certainly did not go into the Acorn offices in the outlandish costume — fur coat, goggle-like sunglasses, walking stick and broad-brimmed hat — in which he appeared at the beginning and end of most of his videos. It is easy to see why The Times and other news organizations got a different impression. At one point, as the videos were being released, O’Keefe wore the get-up on Fox News, and a host said he was “dressed exactly in the same outfit he wore to these Acorn offices.” He did not argue.

In her interview with Truthout, Lewis said O'Keefe "entrapped our gullible employees" and edited the videos in such a way that it appeared it was the employees who broke the law rather than the other way around. O'Keefe and three other men were arrested by federal law enforcement authorities in January for allegedly attempting to "maliciously interfere" with the phone system in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's Louisiana office. They were charged with  entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

"From the day that O'Keefe's undercover 'sting' videos came out, ACORN leadership pledged accountability for its own staff while pointing out that the videos had been shot illegally and edited deceptively in order to undermine the work of an organization that has empowered working families for four decades," Lewis said after O'Keefe's arrest.

"Unfortunately, during the rush to judge ACORN, both the media and Congress failed to question the methods, intent and accuracy of Mr. O'Keefe's videos," she added.

Hoyt said the newspaper's editors are "considering" issuing a correction.

The Republican War

Although The Washington Post, The New York Times and other major news outlets recounted ACORN's "troubled" history after the edited videos surfaced, the same publications left out the five-year anti-ACORN campaign led by White House adviser Karl Rove and other Republican operatives.

Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called "prosecutor-gate" scandal, when the Bush administration pressured US attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group's voter-registration drives, then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence.

For instance, much less media interest followed the House Judiciary Committee's August release of Bush administration emails related to the role that Rove and other Bush administration officials played in the firings of nine US attorneys amid a Republican effort to target ACORN's voter-registration work during the 2004 presidential election.

Two of the nine US attorneys who were fired in 2006 were targeted because they refused to bring criminal charges against individuals affiliated with ACORN. The firing of another US attorney was due, in large part, to his refusal to convene a grand jury and secure a voter-fraud indictment against individuals, some of who were affiliated with ACORN.