Report: ACORN Obsession: Beck, Hannity Devote Disproportionate Attention to ACORN While Virtually Ignoring Blockbuster Scandals Involving Abramoff and Military Contractors

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
jlevin@mediamatters.org

Report: ACORN Obsession: Beck, Hannity Devote Disproportionate Attention to ACORN While Virtually Ignoring Blockbuster Scandals Involving Abramoff and Military Contractors

WASHINGTON - 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.

READ THE
COMPLETE REPORT

"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."

KEY FINDINGS

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.

READ THE
COMPLETE REPORT

METHODOLOGY

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.

READ THE
COMPLETE REPORT

###

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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