Fox News reports fake murder story from ACORN video as fact

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

After Andrew Breitbart posted a video of an ACORN employee in San Bernardino, California, claiming that she had killed her ex-husband, Fox News' Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity promoted it without fact-checking it or indicating that they had contacted ACORN for a response to the claim. In fact, ACORN stated that the employee made up the story because she recognized that the actors in the video "were clearly playing with" her so she "matched their false scenario with her own false scenarios," and, indeed, the San Bernardino Police Department has said her claim is false.

Fox News figures fail to fact-check ACORN employee's claim she killed her ex-husband

Beck: "I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a jury. But gosh, even to me, it seems like this is a potential admission of murder." After airing video of Tresa Kaelke stating that she shot her ex-husband, Beck stated, "This is twisted, bizarre, macabre -- I mean, is this theater? I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a jury. But, gosh, even to me, it seems like this is a potential admission of murder. And the way she was describing doing some groundwork beforehand, you know, so everybody in town knew exactly what was going on, a case might be made for premeditated murder." Beck later added, "[W]e we haven't been even able to confirm from the state of California whether Tresa's husband from 10 years ago was killed, or if he's dead, or if she even had a husband. Did she make the story up? I don't know. Nobody's asking questions." [Glenn Beck, 9/15/09]

Rove: ACORN must have "terrific ... human resources department to hire people like that." Karl Rove stated that Kaelke "admitted to -- or claimed to have killed her husband because she thought he was going to abuse her at some point. So, she's claimed that she shot him in the head. I mean, this is an organization that really must have a terrific human relations -- human resources department to hire people like that." [On the Record, 9/15/09]

Hannity: "[S]he's on tape admitting that she plotted to kill and had her husband killed, but we don't know if it's true yet." Hannity asked Hannah Giles, the woman who posed as a prostitute, "Have you ever checked to see if in fact she had a husband who was killed?" Giles stated, "We're working on that." Hannity later stated, "So she's on tape admitting that she plotted to kill and had her husband killed, but we don't know if it's true yet." During a later segment, country music singer John Rich said, "[W]hat kind of screening process are they going through that they let a lady who admits to killing her husband standing right there?" [Hannity, 9/15/09]

ACORN: Employee "matched" actors' "false scenario with her own false scenarios"

Fox News figures don't indicate that they contacted ACORN for a response. During their discussions of the story, Beck, Rove, Hannity, and Van Susteren did not state that they had contacted ACORN for a response to Kaelke's claim in the video from San Bernardino that she had killed her ex-husband.

ACORN: Kaelke said she decided to tell actors "outrageous things with a straightface." According to an ACORN press release, Kaelke stated of the actors who filmed her, "They were not believable. ... Somewhat entertaining, but they weren't even good actors. I didn't know what to make of them. They were clearly playing with me. I decided to shock them as much as they were shocking me. Like Stephen Colbert does -- saying the most outrageous things with a straightface." The press release also stated: "When the actors approached Ms. Kaelke with their provocative costuming and outlandish scenario, she could not take them seriously. So she met their outrageousness with her own personal style of outrageousness. She matched their false scenario with her own false scenarios."

Police report confirms employee did not actually kill her ex-husband

San Bernardino PD: Investigators found former husbands "alive and well." In a September 15 news release, the San Bernardino Police Department stated that Kaelke's claim that she shot and killed her ex-husband does "do[es] not appear to be factual":

DESCRIPTION OF INCIDENT:

An undercover video reportedly filmed in the San Bernardino office for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was recently released on the Internet. The film depicts a worker talking about her past involvement in prostitution and the alleged self-defense killing of her former husband.

The San Bernardino Police Department is investigating the claims made regarding the homicide. From the initial investigation conducted, the claims do not appear to be factual. Investigators have been in contact with the involved party's known former husbands, who are alive and well.

Fox News' recent ACORN attacks rely on Drudge protégé Andrew Breitbart

Breitbart's BigGovernment.com first posted ACORN video. In a September 15 post for biggovernment.com, James O'Keefe, who made the video in which Kaelke appears, posted "Part I of the ACORN San Bernardino expose." Clips from this and other ACORN videos pushed by Breitbart have been featured on numerous Fox News programs.

Breitbart has repeatedly attacked progressives. Breitbart, whom Beck has called one of the "great journalists of our time," has made several incendiary statements about progressives, claiming for instance that Democrats depend "on the ability to keep blacks in fear"; that Ted Kennedy is a "villain," a "duplicitous bastard," and a "prick"; and that "Democrats would distribute needles, methadone, medical marijuana and biscotti in voter goodie bags if they could get away with it."

Transcripts

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

VAN SUSTEREN: And tonight: How much worse can it get for ACORN? Well, a lot, apparently. There's another undercover tape, number four. Now, number four tape shows an ACORN employee giving advice to a very young woman who's pretending to be a prostitute. All four videos, shot by a filmmaker and his associate, have been given to Fox News. Here is tape number four shot in California.

[begin video clip]

KAELKE: [inaudible] service. Really. Yeah. Well, Heidi Fleiss is my hero. ... So do you know how you want to run it? If you had a case -- well, if you have a building --

HANNAH GILES (posing as a prostitute): I was thinking -- I mean, OK, first, I'll say that I would need to want to do it under the cover of a spa.

KAELKE: Yeah.

GILES: I know there's a lot of home salons and things like that.

KAELKE: Yeah.

[...]

KAELKE: Me, what I would do -- and this is what I did. I would disguise it. ... I, in my life, have been abused also, I mean, just with an ex-husband, you know, that just beat the hell out of me, you know, a few times and then, you know, I killed him. But it -- you know, I don't think that that's a nice thing. I don't think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You killed him emotionally?

KAELKE: No, I shot him. I shot him.

GILES: In self-defense?

KAELKE: Yeah.

[end video clip]

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl Rove joins us live. Well, Karl, this organization's sure getting the prize -- four tapes, and each one is more stunning than the last one.

ROVE: Yeah. Today's was particularly unusual. She admitted to -- or claimed to have killed her husband because she thought he was going to abuse her at some point. So, she's claimed that she shot him in the head. I mean, this is an organization that really must have a terrific human relations -- human resources department to hire people like that.

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Not only does she admit to, if I heard her correctly, running a prostitution ring, "Heidi Fleiss is my idol" -- is that the right phrase?

GILES: Yeah, her hero.

HANNITY: Her hero. OK. Specifically, now she goes into this scenario about her husband and the killing of him.

GILES: Yeah.

HANNITY: Why don't you explain exactly 'cause I want to make sure people understand it.

GILES: So this is exactly what happened. She said she was abused by her husband and that she killed him. Now, if a woman's getting abused, she has a right to defend herself. And I went ahead and I asked her, "Oh, was he abusing you when you killed him?" And she goes, "No, not right that instant," which is huge.

HANNITY: All right. So she's saying she killed her husband --

GILES: Yeah.

HANNITY: -- or created the plot that killed her husband. Is that --

GILES: Right. And then after we asked -- she goes, well, that she tried to cover up for saying she didn't kill him in self-defense and said she went around to the community and let different groups know that she was being abused. And so, it's basically like she set up the murder of her husband.

HANNITY: Have you ever checked to see if in fact she had a husband that was killed?

GILES: We've -- we're working on that.

HANNITY: You haven't gotten to the details on that.

BREITBART: There's -- well, look, there's so much stuff coming in. We have -- there are more than four cities.

HANNITY: So, she could have been -- she could have just -- in fairness, she could have just been --

BREITBART: She certainly does exist, and, if you look on the Internet, you can see that she's also involved on the other side of ACORN -- ACORN political side.

HANNITY: Right.

BREITBART: So she is a community organizer in the political sense, as well.

GILES: There is a criminal record also for her if you look her up in different things, and then you have to --

HANNITY: So you're really investigating that now. And --

GILES: We're working on that.

HANNITY: So she's on tape admitting that she plotted to kill and had her husband killed, but we don't know if it's true yet.

GILES: Yeah, we don't know if it's true. And she also threatened to kill someone else.

[...]

HANNITY: And we continue now with our "Great American Panel." So we've been running this ACORN video every night, and you've got, you know, a group that gets -- it has gotten tens of millions, on track to get billions, of taxpayer dollars.

And we have, you know, this young girl, 20 years old, young guy, 25 years old, act as a pimp and a prostitute. And every city they go to, you know, they're willing to engage in discussions, the ACORN people, about importing young girls from El Salvador for a prostitution ring. You know, what human being with a soul doesn't say, "Let me -- excuse me a moment. Let me go call the police"?

JOHN RICH (country music singer): I think, you know, as the election was going on, there were little hints that something weird was going on with ACORN, you know. You'd pick up on little things and go, "Something about that doesn't seem right." But I don't think in anybody's imagination you could even come up with the level of what they're dealing with now -- what's -- and of course, they're not all that way. That'd be crazy to say they're all that way.

HANNITY: Every city they went to, they got --

RICH: There is a lot of -- I mean, what kind of screening process are they going through that they let a lady who admits to killing her husband standing right there?

From the September 15 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: If you didn't think that there should have been an investigation before, what I'm going to show you tonight will boggle your mind, and, if at the end of the hour, you still don't think there should be a rigorous investigation and you wonder why, if we want to figure out how the president wants to community organize, why he's surrounding himself with members of ACORN, well, then, I don't know what else to do.

For the remainder of the hour, we're going to take this video apart piece by piece, because, this one, not only involves prostitution, illegal aliens, tax corruption, and fraud, but also an admission of a woman killing her husband. Remember, this is now the fourth city.

[...]

[begin video clip]

KAELKE: He came at me and I let him throw me around a little bit, you know. And I just picked up the gun and said [bleep] you and I shot him. And he died right there. And -- but before that, I had done some -- laid some groundwork. You know, I went to the domestic violence shelter and I pleaded my case to them. And, so everybody in town was knowing that this was happening, you know, 'cause I've seen too many movies about -- The Burning Bed, I love Farrah Fawcett in that movie. You know, that guy got his -- oh, my God.

GILES: Well, you had to go through a lot more stuff than [unintelligible].

KAELKE: Well, yeah. Yeah. Right. Then -- so, I don't agree with -- I never -- I don't believe in corporal punishment for children when you're raising them. I never spanked my kids for anything.

[end video clip]

BECK: OK. Let's see if I have this right. She's -- she never spanked her kids, but she did shoot her husband dead. She doesn't spank her kids, but you can bring in 13-year-old illegal aliens and have them be hookers.

I mean, where do you even begin, America? This is twisted, bizarre, macabre -- I mean, is this theater? I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a jury. But, gosh, even to me, it seems like this is a potential admission of murder. And the way she was describing doing some groundwork beforehand, you know, so everybody in town knew exactly what was going on, a case might be made for premeditated murder.

In fairness, I don't understand people who stay in abusive relationships. I don't. I get it. I get it. And maybe a jury might conclude that it was justifiable homicide. I don't know, but we haven't been even able to confirm from the state of California whether Tresa's husband from 10 years ago was killed, or if he's dead, or if she even had a husband. Did she make the story up? I don't know. Nobody's asking questions. See if the mainstream media will follow this one.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Greta Van Susteren
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.