ACORN Sting Raises Media Ethics Questions

Hidden video subterfuge made news, but where was the reality check?
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2009 10:35 AM CDT
ACORN Sting Raises Media Ethics Questions
James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles talk to Sean Hannity in this image made from YouTube screenshots.   (YouTube)

“You've got to give James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles credit for abundant chutzpah and guile,” writes James Rainey in the Los Angeles Times. The pair’s hidden camera ACORN takedown “likely will do for guerrilla video what Ashton Kutcher did for Twitter—popularize and expand the form.” But Giles and O’Keefe play by their own rules, he notes, leaving the  media fumbling to respond to these newsworthy, but also bizarre and Comedy Central-worthy stings.

The media should—at the very least—verify the facts and offer "context, proportion, and, above all, a sense of reality.” He notes that Fox News didn't bother to verify facts—ie the   mate of the woman who said she killed her husband is alive and well, suggesting that she was playing along with the gag—or mention ACORN offices that called out the duo. The amount the videographers claim ACORN stood to receive in stimulus funds was ridiculously exaggerated. “Make-believe can be a powerful tactic for video stings and commentators out to stir the pot,” Rainey continues. “But then, journalists are supposed to take the raw material and meld it into something more meaningful.” (More James O'Keefe stories.)

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