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MSNBC Hosts and Guests Lobby: 'Time to Move On' From ACORN; Dismiss Scandal

On Monday's Morning Meeting, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan and his journalist guests expressed frustration that the ACORN scandal hasn't gone away. Politico correspondent Mike Allen lobbied, "...It's time to move on." Ratigan highlighted other groups and offered moral equivalence: "And are all of these organizers ultimately guilty of some sort of shady activity or another?"

Following a reading of the organization's questionable accounting, the cable host spun, "Does it add up to the fall of ACORN or is it just something fun to talk about?" Allen, who used to write for the Washington Post, bizarrely tried to suggest the media have been covering ACORN too much: "Well, Dylan, this is classic for the press, driving from one side of the road to the other. We were flat-footed. We were slow to cover it. Now, we won't give it up."

Ratigan explained the undercover sting that caught employees attempting to assist a faux pimp and prostitute. Allen then whined, "Yesterday, somebody sent me minutes from ACORN meetings out in California. I was like, 'Come on. It was a great story, but it's time to move on.'" It's time to "move on" from covering this massive scandal, which in one sting video included attempted assistance for child prostitution? ACORN has received $50 million in federal money since 1994. Wouldn't responsible journalists be interested in continuing to investigate that?

After playing a clip of President Obama weakly claiming ACORN isn't the "biggest issue facing the country," Ratigan cooed, "Hallelujah, Mr. President. Thank you." That wasn't exactly the attitude of journalists when they were gleefully playing up the latest details of the battle between Sarah Palin's family and Levi Johnston.

Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut did offer a slight detour from this journalistic consensus. She pointed out, "The only problem for him is after he weighed in on Kanye West, saying he is not paying attention to something isn't going to fly quite as well." However, Kornblut quickly fell into line: "But, he [Obama] does have bigger things to worry about this week. So, I suspect Mike's right and we'll all move on."

Perhaps the greatest contradiction came after Ratigan read off this list of complaints against the organization:

DYLAN RATIGAN: ...Documents showing that the organization, at one point, owed the IRS $800, 000. That on top of the allegations that the self-proclaimed non-partisan group pushed new voters- new voters, excuse me, towards Democratic candidates, falsified voter registration cards, there's even accusations of embezzlement and fraud at ACORN's highest levels.

He then pivoted and seriously asked Allen, "The list of charges against ACORN any worse than what I might muster from some of these other groups?" Even the Politico writer had to dismiss that assertion: "No, of course it is. There is no way a group should be getting federal money until this could be cleaned up."

A transcript of the September 21 segment, which aired at 9:47am EDT, follows:

DYLAN RATIGAN: Time now for a little Trend or Talker. And today, it's all about ACORN. Our question, are we watching the death of the activist group and voting organizer or is this just a story we cannot stop talking about? And are all of these organizers ultimately guilty of some sort of shady activity or another? Sounding off, Mike Allen, chief political correspondent with Politico and Anne Kornblut, White House reporter for the Washington Post. Anne, here we go. The latest controversy, of course, stems from this undercover video showing ACORN employees offering tax help to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute. Now, the couple, as it turns out, were apparently posing as such and going from one ACORN employee to another. They finally found one willing to help them find a house to work as a pimp and ho. Well, today, ACORN going to announce an independent auditor. On Fox News, Sunday, in fact, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said she was outraged by her workers' actions and promised reforms.

BERTHA LEWIS (ACORN CEO): Those folks were terminated immediately. And what did I also do? Make sure that we have an independent review, make sure that we suspend any walk-inactivity, so we can review what worked, what didn't work. In instances [sic], those folks were thrown out.

RATIGAN: Well, in response to the ACORN videos, the House voted last week to deny all federal funds to the grass roots community. The total vote was 345-75, with virtually the same number of Democrats and Republicans voting yes on the measure. ACORN getting ten percent of its $25 million budget from, yes, us the taxpayer. Mike, your thoughts?

MIKE ALLEN (Politico): Well, Dylan, this is classic for the press, driving from one side of the road to the other. We were flat-footed. We were slow to cover it. Now, we won't give it up. Yesterday, somebody sent me minutes from ACORN meetings out in California. I was like, "Come on. It was a great story, but it's time to move on."

RATIGAN: Yeah. And it's a reflection of our priorities, if you ask me. Again, of all the things- Anyway, Republicans have, of course, been pushing for an investigation of ACORN's spending. On the Sunday talk show circuit, President Obama was asked to weigh in.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Frankly, it's not really something I was even following closely. I didn't even know ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Both the Senate and the House have voted to cut it off.

OBAMA: What I know is that what I saw on that video was certainly inappropriate and deserves to-

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're not committing to cut off the federal funding?

OBAMA: George, this is not the biggest issue facing the country. It's not something I'm paying a lot of attention to.

RATIGAN: Hallelujah, Mr. President. Thank you. Anne, how do we get our priorities straight in this country?

ANNE KORNBLUT: Yes, of course that's an easy out for the President. The only problem for him is after he weighed in on Kanye West, saying he is not paying attention to something isn't going to fly quite as well. But, he does have bigger things to worry about this week. So, I suspect Mike's right and we'll all move on.

RATIGAN: All of this, just the latest crisis for our friends at ACORN. I say that in jest. The Washington Post taking a look at the group's history of problems. I believe that we have a table that illustrates, documents showing that the organization, at one point, owed the IRS $800, 000. That on top of the allegations that the self-proclaimed non-partisan group pushed new voters- new voters, excuse me, towards Democratic candidates, falsified voter registration cards, there's even accusations of embezzlement and fraud at ACORN's highest levels. Does it add up to the fall of ACORN or is it just something fun to talk about? Mike Allen, again, I'm new to this. But, there seems to be all these political organizing groups. The list of charges against ACORN any worse than what I might muster from some of these other groups?

ALLEN: No, of course it is. There is no way a group should be getting federal money until this could be cleaned up. Several Congressmen have called for a look by inspector generals of the federal money gone to them. $50 million or more since 1994. There's going to be an accounting for that. ACORN has hired its own accountant. But, I'll say that they have a lot less to account for now.

RATIGAN: Is it me, Mike, or can this be done better?

ALLEN: It's not you.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.