It was bad enough that most of the media — outside of the liberal anchors at MSNBC — refused to recognize the import of the content of that prank phone call to Scott Walker. Even more appalling was watching this weekend as the Beltway Villagers bent over backwards to thoroughly dismiss the story — led by Howard Kurtz and the execrable Amy Holmes at CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday.
Their chief means of dismissing the story was to compare the Buffalo Beast's revealing hoax call as "not journalistic" while comparing it to the treatment given the hoax ACORN videos of 2009:
HOLMES: Right. Well, I think because it fits their ideological framework. And I looked at this, and he was hailed as "Most Intriguing Person of the Day" by CNN. And you didn't see the hand-wringing over journalistic ethics like you did, say, in the ACORN case, when those two young people used the same sorts of tactics of being an impostor and sort of — some people would say tricking people into participating in this. And there, there was a huge discussion about journalism and is this fair, is this right?
In this, it was, like, he's a hero. He accomplished a feat, as you just heard.
KURTZ: And as Amy points out though, when the ACORN sting happened — you remember James O'Keefe and the pimp and the prostitute — liberal commentators all attacked them, but Fox News played them up and that story up in a way that was much more favorable.
So how much of this is ideological.
HOLMES: Right. And the ACORN folks, they said that they were activists. They were very explicit about their point of view, where, in this case, oh, well, maybe he's a blogger, maybe he's a journalist. It doesn't really matter and he doesn't get any kind of criticism for his methods.
But how did Kurtz and Co. — including Holmes — treat the ACORN videos back in 2009? Well, as it happens, they attacked other media outlets for their reluctance to treat the videos as legitimate!
KURTZ: But much of the mainstream media was well behind on this story. CNN also jumped on the budding scandal 10 days ago, though not with anything approaching Fox's intensity.
But it took five days to hit the CBS "Evening News" and six days to be reported by ABC's "World News," NBC "Nightly News" and MSNBC.
Chris, there was two conservative activists, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, posing as a pimp and a ho, get this footage with a hidden camera. Is that journalism?
CILLIZZA: I think there is a blurry line of what journalism is now, Howie, with video on demand, with blogs. I will go back to a somewhat less controversial example. Mayhill Fowler, a Democratic donor, wound up in a San Francisco fund-raiser for Barack Obama in which he said some voters in Pennsylvania are "embittered and cling to their guns."
HOLMES: If — if liberal activist had walked into the Heritage Foundation, for example, and conducted the same sort of sting operation, it would have been on the front page of The Washington Post in a day. I think that what we're seeing here was — is this just a right- wing, sort of, fringe story that the mainstream media didn't want to touch with a 10-foot pole, or this a real story about corruption at this organization?
And I think the mainstream media, because it was conservative activists going into a liberal organization, were a little bit wary, I would say, of the story.