September 14, 2009

As Contessa Brewer notes in the beginning of this segment, ACORN is threatening legal action against the filmmaker who posed as a pimp at their offices and Fox News which ACORN "calls an advocacy organization for right wing interests".

Dylan Ratigan then brings in ACORN's Scott Levenson to discuss the matter and this has to be one of the more infuriating interviews I've watched on MSNBC for a long time. Ratigan was so desperate to prove his preconceived notion that what ACORN does is somehow a left wing alternative to Dick Armey's FreedomWorks that Scott Levenson may as well have been having a conversation with himself here.

Ratigan: What is your explanation for that video?

Levenson: Well there is an explanation for this video as an attack on the work that ACORN is doing. We got a hundred and fifty thousand people into their first home. Kept fifty thousand people free of foreclosure, this year, done unprecedented work in health care, unprecedented work in education, so we see this as a coordinated attack driven by Fox entertainment, and not news, Fox entertainment, on the work and the members of our organization.

Ratigan: I was thinking about the conversation that you and I are about to have and about the one I was fortunate to have with Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks who’s a conservative organizing group, a different agenda and we were talking about the frustration that exists I this country about the government process…

Levenson: And thank you for asking me…

Ratigan: …and the banks, I agree with you from what I can see journalistically that you have been targeted from conservative groups, but… when they target you they find things that are unsettling and so (crosstalk) that’s what I said when I look at Matt Kibbe, I understand your issue but I look at the, when you say “Oh kill Obama this, not kill, but kill Obamacare” so when the radicals (crosstalk).

Levenson: You’re absolutely right. Process matters. Process actually matters so it’s very important to look at these films as you’ll see none of these people got a loan. None of these people got a mortgage. None of these people filled out an application. None of these people even filled out (crosstalk) let me finish the point. None of these people even filled out an intake form. So we at ACORN have a multi-step process that keeps people from doing the wrong thing. These people never got to first base.

Ratigan: If you look at the vulnerability, like in other words let’s assume that you or Matt Kibbe or any of these organizations, that the intention is good. That the intention is to manifest political interest, but that those on the left or right are willing to behave when not properly monitored, in an unethical, manipulative, distorting, destructive manner that ultimately comes at the expense of the country. And I don’t care if it’s on the ACORN side, the FreedomWorks side or any other side. Obviously you’re process could use some improvement.

Levenson: But again this is why process matters. Because of…

Ratigan: How can you improve it?

Levenson: Because we set up these twelve steps it’s very difficult when you have an organization like Fox entertainment willing to say…

Ratigan: Well forget them….

Levenson: I understand (crosstalk) it’s millions and millions and millions of dollars and resources. So when you have processes….

Ratigan: I understand…

Levenson: So when you have processes that are able to take these shames and stop them at the gate, stop them at point one…

Ratigan: So your point is that the shams happen inside of ACORN but they never leave first base and then (crosstalk) Fox then sees the attempted sham and makes it look as if the sham was actually perpetrated. Is that your defense?

Levenson: To an edited and doctored tape that doesn’t even depict what actually happened in the room.

Ratigan: So you don’t deny that idiots inside of ACORN on a grass roots level will behave in an idiotic manner in the same way that idiots at FreedomWorks and other organizations will behave like idiots.

Levenson: Obviously people on the grass roots level from time to time do stupid things. (crosstalk) That’s indefensible.

Ratigan: Your point is that that’s different than what ACORN actually seeks to get done?

Levenson: Well it’s actually different than the work we do every day. The work we do every day is focused first on keeping people in their homes. Fifty thousand people this year alone, a hundred and fifty thousand people who are first time home buyers. It’s an attack on our members and the work we do. That’s what this thing is about.

Ratigan: What would the un-doctored tape look like? You say that Fox has a doctored tape. What would the un-doctored tape show?

Levenson: We are in the process now of going through the transcript and trying to recreate what actually happened. I’ll be glad to come back and tell you.

Ratigan: Let’s get out of the spitball fighting and actually use the frustration to improve the government system which we all know left and right is ultimately vulnerable to special interests and happening at the expense of the American people.

Levenson: I’m all for that.

Ratigan: Thank you very much.

Levenson: Thank you Dylan.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.