Holy hell broke loose six months ago when a self-appointed truth squad sponsored by a right-wing propagandist broadcast an Internet video that appeared to show African-American employees of ACORN counseling a white pimp and his equally Caucasian hooker on how to dodge a variety of laws.
The always agitated mad dogs of the conservative blogosphere began to foam with unusual intensity. The four horsemen of the cultural apocalypse — Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Beck — saddled up and spread the alarm to their audience of shut-ins, traveling salesmen, and other political illiterates collectively known as the tea baggers.
The heat mounted. Cable sizzled. Broadcast fumed. Congress acted. Fox News got particularly riled up. And — in a dénouement that connoisseurs of such controversies have come to cherish — the liberal, left-wing, progressive, sodomite, antichrist Beelzebub known as the mainstream media (especially the New York Times) suffered a flogging for not exposing ACORN in the first place, and for not trumpeting the hysteria in banner headlines above the fold.
Now comes the news that the ACORN video was — not to put too fine a point on it — a malicious manufacture, a hoax, a deception, a vicious pack of lies.
On March 1, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, after a five-and-a-half month investigation, said with the eloquence so many prosecutors favor that "no criminality has been found." The full tapes that showed what looked like an effort by ACORN to sidestep the law were so heavily edited as to be distorted — in effect falsified.
That raises a simple question: where is the outrage this time around? Where is the media and political anger at being duped by the pimp, James O'Keefe, and the self-described "outcall specialist," Hannah Giles? Perhaps most important of all, where is censure for Andrew Breitbart, the conservative media manipulator who sponsored O'Keefe's adventure — and even suggested at one point that O'Keefe should win a Pulitzer Prize for something or other?
The answer is that the air went out of this particular whoopee cushion when O'Keefe was arrested in New Orleans earlier this year and charged in a plot to tamper with the office phones of Democratic senator Mary Landrieu.
Three weeks ago, in an editorial that wrestled with the phenomena known as Sarah Palin, we suggested that the corporately controlled mass media, whatever its momentary biases, was an essential conservative vehicle more interested in propagating spectacle and fueling controversy than in trying to come to grips with the elusive quality known as reality.
The ACORN incident proves our point. ACORN, by the way, is an acronym for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. "Reform now" — there is an idea the media big boys and girls should keep in mind when the right-wing attack machine prepares its next assault.
The news that the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and Cambridge Cares About AIDS are to merge is both welcome and significant.
It is welcome, because in these distressed economic times the two big-hearted outfits have managed to balance managerial competence with social and medical caring. In any environment, that's quite an achievement. Together, they will be stronger and, as such, better-equipped to serve their clients as resources grow tighter in the challenging days ahead.