On Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade advanced Andrew Breitbart's dubious allegations against ACORN by reporting that a "private investigator" saw the group "dumping thousands of sensitive documents into the trash outside their San Diego office ... after California's attorney general launched an investigation into the group." But Breitbart, who hyped the document dump as a "scandal" on his website, BigGovernment.com, and asserted that the documents are "very vital to that investigation," has not shown that the discarded documents are in fact vital to the investigation or related to the reported scope of the investigation.
Fox News promotes "scandal" pushed by Breitbart's BigGovernment.com
Kilmeade: "Was ACORN trying to hide something?" Kilmeade asked: "Was ACORN trying to hide something?" and linked the documents to the California attorney general's investigation into ACORN. From the November 24 edition of Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: Was ACORN trying to hide something? A private investigator tells Fox News he saw ACORN workers dumping thousands of sensitive documents into the trash outside their San Diego office. It happened just after California's attorney general launched an investigation into the group. Some of the documents reportedly included Social Security and bank account numbers of people who went to ACORN for help, others detailing ACORN's ties with banks and labor unions. A top ACORN official in California apologized, saying it was a mistake. You know that happens.
Fox Nation: "ACORN Caught Dumping Documents in Dumpster." On November 24, Fox Nation linked to a November 23 BigGovernment.com post:
But documents posted on BigGovernment.com appear unrelated to investigation into undercover tapes
California attorney general reportedly opened investigation into ACORN. On October 2, the Los Angeles Times noted that on undercover videos, "ACORN workers in several states were shown allegedly offering advice on tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution," and reported that California Attorney General Jerry Brown "plans to look into circumstances surrounding both the making of the videos and any possible misdeeds by ACORN employees in California caught on tape."
Breitbart: "Some might call [document dump] 'obstruction of justice.' " In a November 23 post on BigGovernment.com, Breitbart wrote of "20,000 deeply sensitive and highly political documents discovered in the dumpster behind ACORN in San Diego on October 9, nine days after ACORN was announced to be under state investigation," adding: "Some might call that 'obstruction of justice.' " Breitbart further wrote: "There are reasons ACORN dumped these documents before the scheduled visit by Brown's office." He did not elaborate on those "reasons." On a November 22 KFI 640 AM broadcast, Breitbart said to Derrick Roach, the "licensed investigator" who pulled the documents out of the Dumpster, that "they started dumping documents during that period of time. If you went there on the 9th and they announced an investigation on the 1st, they're dumping documents at a time when those documents are very vital to that investigation."
Documents posted on BigGovernment.com include food stamp application, canvassing form, and an employee's tax and identification information. In a November 23 post on BigGovernment.com, Roach noted that he retrieved "thousands upon thousands of sensitive documents" from a Dumpster and found that they include "information exposing not only the inner workings of ACORN in California, but also personal, sensitive information belonging to employees, members and clients of ACORN." Roach posted documents containing an employee's transmittal form, tax forms, and identification information, as well as a canvassing form, a neighborhood map, and an authorization form for the deduction of membership fees. Roach also wrote:
Over the weeks and months ahead, BigGovernment.com will continue to release information from this shocking document dump by ACORN, slowly revealing the ugly truth of ACORN: the fact that their stated mission of helping the poor and downtrodden is just a ruse and a cover for an organization that is highly partisan and highly political, and thus rotten to the core."
On November 24, BigGovernment.com blogger Publius posted "one family's application for food stamp benefits that ACORN threw out with its trash, in advance of a visit from officers of the Attorney's General office" and "a monthly credit card statement for ACORN employee David Lagstein's corporate credit card" showing "payments to a fertility clinic." He also posted other documents that appear to outline a "plan for a 2-year ACORN campaign to repeal California's Prop 13," and one that discusses re-branding ACORN under a different name.
ACORN employee: "[T]he majority of what was thrown out was junk -- old leaflets, newsletters, etc." NBC Los Angeles reported on November 23 that Amy Schur of ACORN's California office stated of the discarded documents: "In early October, when our San Diego staff were doing an office clean-up in preparation for a major 10-station phone bank program being set up in our offices, it appears that included in the piles of garbage being thrown out may have been some documents containing private information." Schur further stated: "Our files were not part of the scope of the visit by the Attorney General's office, and the majority of what was thrown out was junk - old leaflets, newsletters, etc... It looks like our staff were careless and some documents with personal information were included in the piles of garbage."
Breitbart's only allegation of potential illegality is unrelated to investigation. A November 24 post on BigGovernment.com suggests that ACORN -- by throwing away a copy of a credit report -- may have violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (GLB), which "requires that financial institutions protect information collected about individuals," according to the Federal Trade Commission. However, the credit report displayed with the blog post appears to be unrelated to the California attorney general's investigation, and the post itself notes that it is unclear "whether or not ACORN falls under the letter of GLB."
Fox & Friends previously ran with false stories about ACORN
Ignoring police report, Carlson advanced false claim that ACORN employee killed husband. Referring to a San Bernardino, California, ACORN employee whose claim that she killed her husband was recorded by actors posing as a prostitute and pimp, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, "She killed somebody?" adding, "Despite this, some lawmakers want to keep funding the group." However, the San Bernardino Police Department investigated the matter and concluded that the claims made by Tresa Kaelke -- the ACORN staffer in question who said she fabricated the story because the actors filming her "were clearly playing with me" -- "do not appear to be factual," and that her "known former husbands" are "alive and well."
Doocy: White House adviser Gaspard "has been in bed with ACORN." After Matthew Vadum wrote in The American Spectator that "[e]vidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration," White House political affairs director Patrick Gaspard "was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York," Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy seized on the blog post, stating that Gaspard "apparently has been in bed with ACORN. And, in fact, Bertha Lewis, who heads up ACORN, he -- Mr. Gaspard -- was her right-hand man. So does ACORN have somebody in the White House in one way or another?" Politico's Ben Smith later reported that the allegation "just isn't true" and that the White House denied the American Spectator report.
Fox News' ACORN attacks rely on Drudge protégé 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 Glenn 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."