In Exposing ACORN 'Lies,' Maddow Leaves Truth On the Cutting Room Floor

Rachel Maddow had a story to tell. The story was that Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe’s ACORN videos were “severely edited” to make an innocent man who did the right thing look as though he was doing something nefarious, immoral and illegal. She had almost an hour of unedited video footage to work with. Her segment was approximately twelve minutes long so some editing had to be done. What she chose to use and what she chose to leave out shows that she is guilty of exactly what she is accusing O’Keefe of doing.

She led with the tiresome and irrelevant argument about O’Keefe’s wardrobe during the opening credits versus what he actually wore in the ACORN offices. Patterico rips this apart better than I can, instead, I want to expose Maddow’s first lie of her report as it relates to this “Pimp Costume” diversion.

In her blockbuster “exclusive” she breathlessly says: “Check out the UNEDITED tape. This is the very end of that visit to the office in San Diego.” She then plays a clip that shows O’Keefe’s arm opening the door to the ACORN office and the video shows he is wearing a pin-stripe dress shirt.

Her narrative here is meant to suggest that by accessing the footage that O’Keefe purposely left out of his videos she is exposing the fraud of the pimp costume which O’Keefe desperately tried to conceal with his severe editing. Only problem is the footage she shows is actually in the edited video! That’s right, the blockbuster unedited video revelation she leads her story with has been released and available for all to see since September.

ACORN Sleeve

But that is only the beginning of Maddow’s attempt to re-write history.

She next shows a segment of the edited video that features the famous exchange between O’Keefe and ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera, in which O’Keefe continues to ask Vera what information he needs to facilitate the transport of underage El Salvadoran girls across the Mexican border:

[audio: /files/2010/04/Maddow-ACORN1.mp3]

Maddow then tells her audience that O’Keefe purposely left out an important portion of this exchange, in which Vera asks O’Keefe for his phone number. She then shows a 30-second portion in which Vera asks O’Keefe for his phone number and the time and date of the arrival of girls in Tijuana. As Maddow characterizes it, Vera was “pressing, pressing, pressing to get as much information as he could possibly get from these two people in his office.” Why? So he could call the police and report them, Maddow suggests.

[audio: /files/2010/04/Maddow-ACORN2.mp3]

Damning, isn’t it?

rachel maddow

Well, unless you don’t see what Maddow left out. First, the moment when Vera asks O’Keefe to verify his number and asks where the area code is from happens just a few minutes into the ACORN video (page 8 of the full transcript) Maddow then skips ahead almost 20 minutes (page 19 of the full transcript) when Vera is asking about the day and location of the human trafficking. (Part Two of the full transcript here.)

What did she leave out? Things that don’t fit into her story, such as:

  • O’Keefe clearly stating he was planning to take a percentage of the prostitution proceeds and that this would be his sole income… Anyone still want to claim he didn’t pose as a pimp?
  • Vera advising them that they should not claim that the house would be used only for business because then they would not qualify for the first-time home buyers’ credit.
  • Vera asking Hannah where she practiced her profession (“Downtown? The city?”)
  • And, most importantly, O’Keefe pressing the line of questioning and constantly prodding Vera as to what information he required to help with the plan. O’Keefe was doing the “pressing, pressing, pressing”, Ms. Maddow.

And Maddow’s misleading statement: “He calls the police and reports what they’ve told him is going to be a crime” is wishful thinking not based on the evidence in Attorney General Jerry Brown’s report. There is a phone record of Mr. Vera calling his cousin who works in the police department (a fact that Mr. Vera revealed to Hannah and James during the course of the video) but there is no evidence as to what was said in that phone call, only that he got his cousin’s voice mail. It wasn’t until nine days after the incident, when Vera finally gave a detailed account of what had happened to law enforcement officials, do we have any third party verification that Vera may have intended to report Giles and O’Keefe to the police.

Finally, to complete the perfect leftist defense of Vera’s behavior, she throws in this bit of class/ethnic warfare: Mr. Vera “doesn’t speak English very well.” O’Keefe and Giles were with him for nearly an hour and the full transcript and audio are available, and have been available for all to see since the day the videos were released last September. Judge for yourself how well Vera speaks English and, more importantly, whether he understands this situation. I’ll give you one exchange for your evaluation. You tell me how well Vera understands English:

[audio: /files/2010/04/Maddow-ACORN3.mp3]

Still not sure if he understands English? Well, check out this clip (another one Maddow didn’t show you) I think you’ll agree that Vera understands what Hannah’s hooker character, “Eden” is selling:

[audio: /files/2010/04/Maddow-ACORN4.mp3]

Yeah, it seems like Vera understands quite a bit. But none of that behavior fits with Maddow’s characterization of Vera as an innocent ACORN employee who doesn’t speak English very well, who did the right thing and reported O’Keefe and Giles to the police. So, she left it on the cutting room floor.


Here’s one last example of Mr. Vera “doing the right thing:” he kept taking pictures of Giles in her skimpy prostitute costume. And, since Maddow reviewed the unedited video tapes, surely she caught this private exchange between Hannah and James at the end:

James: Oh, man. Oh, shit. He kept on taking pictures of you.

Hannah/Eden: Huh?

James: He keeps on taking pictures of you.

Hannah/Eden: I know.

James: Is it because he’s… do you think it’s cuz he’s on to.. he uh likes you? He’s attracted to you?

Hannah/Eden: I dunno know.

James: Well, come on. Be a woman and and guess.

Hannah/Eden: Okay. Well, I’ll tell you in the car.

James: Alright. He, um — I mean can it be any more obvious, though. He walks outside the door opens the door and takes pictures of you.

In all of Maddow’s twelve- minute report, purportedly revealing the blockbuster, unedited video that would demonstrate the zealotry and partisan agenda of O’Keefe and Giles, she ended up showing a little over 30 seconds out of 47 minutes of footage from the San Diego visit. and that 30-second clip included an edit that removed 17 minutes of content that did not fit Maddow’s purpose.

She finishes her report with this statement: “The unedited video tapes released by the California Attorney General’s office last week clear the ACORN employees in California of wrong-doing.” Not true. The Attorney General’s office stated that the videos showed “terrible judgment and highly inappropriate behavior” from ACORN employees, just not “prosecutable crimes.”

Ms. Maddow could write this off as a matter of semantics, but it goes deeper than semantics. Anyone who reads the full report from the Attorney General’s office will see that the way the videos were edited has no bearing on whether the AG office found evidence of any criminal behavior. The reason the ACORN employees were cleared of aiding and abetting criminal behavior was ultimately, that O’Keefe and Giles were only pretending to commit crimes. You can’t aid and abet criminal behavior if there is no actual criminal behavior. And the release of the unedited videos had nothing to do with that legal conclusion.

But, Rachel Maddow had a story to tell. And all of these things that she concealed from her audience contradicted her story. So she left it out and showed what she needed to show to convince her audience that ACORN had been wronged and O’Keefe and Giles had deceived the world. I wonder how many people actually bought it?


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