Breitbart walks back his charges of ACORN “criminality” -- will Fox News?

Andrew Breitbart wrote in a March 2 post that the “ACORN tapes were less about 'criminality' than facility with which employees all knew how to work system for any lowlife wanting govmnt $.” However, Breitbart, along with James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, and other media conservatives have accused ACORN of engaging in or abetting criminal behavior.

Breitbart walks back claims of “criminality” by ACORN

In a March 2 Twitter post, Breitbart wrote:

ACORN tapes were less about 'criminality' than facility with which employees all knew how to work system for any lowlife wanting govmnt $.

Breitbart previously claimed video shows ACORN aiding in “illegal activities”

Breitbart: Video at Baltimore ACORN office shows O'Keefe and Giles “asking for - and getting - help for illegal activities.” In a September 21, 2009, column in the Washington Times, Breitbart wrote:

When filmmaker and provocateur James O'Keefe came to my office to show me the video of him and his friend, Hannah Giles, going to the Baltimore offices of ACORN - the nation's foremost “community organizers” - dressed as a pimp and a prostitute and asking for - and getting - help for various illegal activities, he sought my advice. In the past, Mr. O'Keefe created brilliant social satire that rocked his college campus and even made its way on to the talk-radio and cable-news shows, but the magnitude of his latest adventure had the potential to rock the political establishment.

I was awed by Mr. O'Keefe's guts and amazed by the footage, but explained that the mainstream media would try to kill this important and illuminating expose about a corrupt and criminal political racket, and that the well-funded political left would go into “war room” mode, with 25-year-old Mr. O'Keefe and 20-year-old cohort Miss Giles in the cross hairs. I felt I had a moral obligation to protect these young muckrakers from the left and from the media, and to devise a strategy that would force the media's hand.

Breitbart: "[A]s we go ACORN office to ACORN office, they seem to be experts at facilitating crime." On the September 17, 2009, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Breitbart stated:

BREITBART: Well, this is the first time we've come to the border. And it seems to me as we go ACORN office to ACORN office, they seem to be experts at facilitating crime. And they -- their knowledge of that crime and helping bring the underclass, you know, to -- how to work the system as best as they can.

Breitbart: “ continues to expose ACORN's illegal activity.” In a December 7, 2009, post on, Breitbart stated that he wrote in an email to the AP [emphasis added]:

ACORN is a corrupt and criminal organization, and anyone with open eyes can see this. Yet SEIU's Andy Stern and left wing puppetmaster John Podesta, of the Soros-funded radical leftist think-tank, the Center for American Progress, chose to architect a whitewashed 'internal investigation' by a Democrat Party hack from Massachusetts, and have put immense efforts into launching a two-pronged propaganda campaign and legal assault against the filmmakers of the 'pimp and prostitute' exposé and the story's publisher. continues to expose ACORN's illegal activity and has helped to illuminate how corrupt organizations like ACORN, SEIU and HCAN are coordinating the efforts to shove radical health care reform down an unwilling majority of Americans throats.

Filmmakers O'Keefe and Giles also accused ACORN of aiding in “criminal” actions

O'Keefe: We “took advantage of ACORN's regard for thug criminality” by posing “criminal scenario” and they complied “without hesitation.” In a September 10 blog post on, O'Keefe wrote [emphasis added]:

The scenario we posed the ACORN Housing employees in Baltimore is due to the application of similar power tactics. We gave ACORN a taste of its own medicine. ACORN was alleged to be thug-like, criminal, and nefarious. This criminal behavior was evidenced by a video of Baltimore ACORN community organizers breaking the locks on foreclosed homes. Instead of railing against their radicalism, it is best to bring out this type of radicalism. Hannah Giles and I took advantage of ACORN's regard for thug criminality by posing the most ridiculous criminal scenario we could think of and seeing if they would comply-which they did without hesitation.

O'Keefe: ACORN “expressed no hesitation” helping me “skirt the law.” O'Keefe appeared in a pimp costume on the September 14, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends. Co-host Steve Doocy asked, “You went into these offices and you asked for help essentially skirting the law, and they were awfully helpful in helping you do just that, right?” O'Keefe replied, “They expressed no hesitation. ... They came up with new scenarios to skirt the law that I never thought of.”

Giles: Tapes showed “ACORN as a corrupt organization willing to aid and abet underaged prostitution.” On the November 16, 2009, edition of Hannity, filmmaker Hannah Giles had the following exchange with Hannity:

GILES: You know, it's the truth. It's part of our story. It's like we did a science experiment. We went around the country testing out this hypothesis, this pimp and prostitute scenario, and this is one that didn't follow the rest of them.

HANNITY: Of all...

GILES: The other ones that showed...

HANNITY: Go ahead.

GILES: Of all the ones showed ACORN as a corrupt organization willing to aid and abet underaged prostitution, Felix in L.A., part one, is the only guy who didn't fall for that. [Hannity, 11/16/09]

Fox News figures also accused ACORN of “illegal activity,” being a “criminal enterprise”

Carlson: “Illegal activity exposed” in ACORN videos. On the December 18, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated:

CARLSON: The Justice Department says ACORN -- some of its illegal activity exposed in these undercover videos -- should be denied federal funding. A judge ruled it was unconstitutional for Congress to use the funding issue as punishment, but the Justice Department wants a review now, saying ACORN lost its money because it's an organizational nightmare.

O'Reilly: ACORN “apparently a criminal enterprise.” On the September 15, 2009, edition (retrieved from Nexis) of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated:

O'REILLY: Unbelievably, seven senators vote not to stop federal money going to ACORN, even though it's apparently a criminal enterprise. We will have new undercover tape that will make you angry.