When in Doubt, Blame Immigrants and ACORN: Media Conservatives Choose Scapegoats Over Substance

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Brandon Hersh (202) 471-3205
bhersh@mediamatters.org

When in Doubt, Blame Immigrants and ACORN: Media Conservatives Choose Scapegoats Over Substance

WASHINGTON - Today, Media Matters for America
released a study documenting how conservative media figures have repeatedly
used undocumented immigrants and the Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now (ACORN) as scapegoats in recent discussions of major news stories.
As the study details, time and again, these charges have been based on
misleading claims or outright falsehoods.

"Media conservatives have made
a sport of vilifying ACORN and immigrants. In lieu of engaging in substantive
policy debates, they simply point fingers at the poor and disenfranchised. It
is both dishonest and irresponsible
," said Media Matters spokesperson Erikka Knuti.

Media Matters'
study documents numerous examples of media conservatives returning to their
favorite scapegoats, including:

EXPANSION OF THE STATE CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

In reporting on or discussing the 2009 expansion of the State
Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), many in the media asserted
or uncritically repeated the claim that the bill would provide health benefits
to undocumented immigrants. In fact, the legislation includes a citizenship
verification process and explicitly states that "[n]othing in this Act
allows Federal payment for individuals who are not lawfully residing in the United States."

2008 FINANCIAL CRISIS

Several conservative media figures have claimed or suggested that
excessive lending to undocumented immigrants was responsible for the financial
crisis, but have failed to cite any credible evidence to support that claim.
They also advanced the idea that ACORN contributed to the housing crisis by
"bullying" banks into lending irresponsibly to minorities, and in
many instances, asserted that the group used the Community Reinvestment Act
(CRA) to intimidate banks into making risky loans. But as Media Matters has documented, the
assertion that the CRA had anything to do with the financial crisis has been widely discredited.

2009 AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT

In their coverage
of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, many in the media falsely asserted
or uncritically reported accusations that the legislation would provide tax
credits to undocumented immigrants. In fact, the bill limited the Making Work
Pay tax credit to individuals with Social Security numbers, thereby excluding
undocumented immigrants. Numerous media figures have also claimed that ACORN
would benefit from the legislation -- to the tune of $4.19 billion. In fact,
the act does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN
itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds. The false claim was based
on a misrepresentation of a provision in the House version of the bill that
would have appropriated $4.19 billion "for neighborhood stabilization
activities related to emergency assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned
and foreclosed homes authorized under division B, title III of the Housing and
Economic Recovery Act of 2008."

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

U.S.
CENSUS

Reporting on the 2010 U.S. Census, many in the media have focused on
ACORN's reported role as a national partner with the Census Bureau in its
effort to recruit more than 1 million temporary workers to knock on doors and
baselessly suggested that the group will fraudulently influence the count in
favor of Democrats or that the Obama administration is politicizing the
process. In fact, ACORN is reportedly one of "more than 250" groups
that are partnering with the Census Bureau to recruit workers.

2008-2009 MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT

In covering the Minnesota Senate recount, many in the media seized on a
Republican talking point that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has
"ties" to ACORN, in many instances using it to suggest that he
would be biased toward Democratic challenger Al Franken over Republican
incumbent Norm Coleman.

Full Research Item HERE.

###

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.

Share This Article

More in: