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Report: ACORN Obsession: Beck, Hannity Devote Disproportionate Attention to ACORN While Virtually Ignoring Blockbuster Scandals Involving Abramoff and Military Contractors
WASHINGTON - September 24 - Today, in light of the recent focus Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have devoted to a supposed corruption scandal involving ACORN, Media Matters for America released a report comparing the hosts' coverage of ACORN to the attention the duo have paid to other well-established corruption scandals that have impacted Washington and wasted countless taxpayer dollars.
"Conservatives like Beck and Hannity are willing to run with any story that accuses ACORN of corruption, even if the accusations remain unproven and the details were gathered using tactics that are both ethically and legally questionable," said Eric Burns, president of Media Matters. "But these two hosts didn't lift a finger to report on the massive and undeniable cases of corruption involving military contractors and Republicans in Congress. This is agenda-driven journalism of the most damaging sort."
Media Matters examined programs hosted by Beck and Hannity between May 8, 2006 -- the start date of Beck's television career -- and September 18, 2009. The study looked at the coverage of scandals involving major military contractors Blackwater, Halliburton, and Kellogg, Brown, & Root (KBR), as well as coverage given to Republican corruption scandals involving Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, and compared it to the two hosts' coverage of ACORN for that same time period. The findings were as follows:
- Beck's and Hannity's programs were approximately 34 times more likely to discuss ACORN than any of the military contractors.
- Beck's and Hannity's programs were approximately 24 times more likely to discuss ACORN than either Abramoff or Ney.
- Beck's programs were approximately 50 times more likely to discuss ACORN than any of the military contractors, and were approximately 149 times more likely to discuss ACORN than either Abramoff or Ney.
- Hannity's programs were approximately 18 times more likely to discuss ACORN than any of the military contractors, and were approximately eight times more likely to discuss ACORN than either Abramoff or Ney.
- After leaving CNN's Headline News and joining Fox News in January 2009, Beck's focus on ACORN skyrocketed, but his disinterest in other major corruption scandals continued. Beck was approximately 23 times more likely to discuss ACORN on Fox News than he was on CNN Headline News.
- While reporting on ACORN, Beck and Hannity have both purported to be concerned about the use of taxpayer dollars to fund what they claim is a corrupt organization. As such, their disproportionate focus on ACORN is made all the more significant by the comparatively small amount of federal funding ACORN has received, as compared to the aformentioned military contractors. ACORN has been awarded an estimated $53 million in federal funding over the past 15 years -- an average of $3.5 million per year. By contrast, Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater have reportedly received a combined total of at least $25 billion in federal contracts since 2001.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis search for programs hosted by Beck and Hannity between May 8, 2006, and September 18, 2009,* using the following terms:
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (CAPS(ACORN) OR Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (Jack Abramoff OR Abramoff)
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (Blackwater OR Black Water OR CAPS(XE))
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (Robert Ney OR Bob Ney OR Ney)
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (Halliburton)
- SHOW(Glenn Beck OR Hannity) AND (Kellogg Brown Root OR KBR)
For each transcript, every mention of any of the searched terms, by any person on the program, was included in the study.
* Glenn Beck was off-air between October 17, 2008, and January 18, 2009, during the program's transition between CNN and Fox News. Included in the results were both Beck's CNN Headline News and Fox News programs; Hannity & Colmes, Hannity, and Hannity's America.