A Plea To Ignore O'Keefe

I just saw Rachel Maddow doing a full segment about James O'Keefe -- the guy behind the ACORN videotaping, who was arrested earlier this week -- and I have decided that, as much as I don't want to talk about James O'Keefe, I am going to talk about James O'Keefe in order to explain why people like Maddow (and Olbermann, and Schuster, and liberal bloggers, etc.) should not be talking about James O'Keefe.

Let me take you through the situation as I see it.

--ACORN, a member organization that does community work through local chapters, is politically a pretty much irrelevant entity.

--Because ACORN is A) organized into largely autonomous chapters, some of which are run more competently than others, and B) poorly managed centrally, it is prone to having, shall we say, poor quality control.

--During the 2008 campaign cycle, conservative mud-slingers tried to make a huge issue out of some minor stories that arose from ACORN's poor quality control. To make the case that this was an important story, those conservatives claimed that A) the incidents were significant and malevolent, when they were neither; and B) ACORN is politically significant and powerful, when it is not.

--In other words, there was no story; any political analyst or commentator who discussed it as if it was a story was in error. No serious people should have been discussing it as a serious political story. The only reason to discuss it as a significant political story is if you feel -- as the Breitbarts and Malkins of the world do -- that the opportunity to make sport of an ideological opponent in itself makes a story politically significant enough to discuss.

--Months after the election, some attention-seeking shmuck named James O'Keefe took advantage of ACORN's poor quality control to put together a video that appeared to show employees (actually, members and part-time staff) of ACORN (or, in half the cases, a separate entity not managed or owned by ACORN) saying stupid, inappropriate things. Nobody involved with ACORN or any related entities ever actually did anything improper, or were even alleged to have done anything improper, other than saying stupid things.

--The stupid things being said had no relation to politics or anything political or any politicians or political groups.

--Since there was no reason for any political analysts or commentators to have been talking about ACORN in the first place, there was certainly no reason for them to talk about some shmuck's video purporting to show some poorly-trained part-time employees of that politically unimportant organization saying stupid things that had no political relevance -- even if one assumed that the video actually depicted such a thing.

--There is no reason to believe that the video is a fair depiction of what transpired. O'Keefe has no independent credibility; O'Keefe provided the videos, already in edited form, to a conservative hack who has (or certainly, deserves) no credibility; the videos were clearly edited and manipulated (From the Scott Harshbarger report: "The videos... appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms. Giles comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding."); and O'Keefe has refused to show anyone the original, unedited videotapes.

--Months later, O'Keefe, the shmuck who put together a non-credible video purporting to show nobody doing anything improper, involving nothing political, in association with a politically unimportant organization, got arrested.

Now, I will grant you that this very final act -- O'Keefe's arrest -- does seem to have some relation to politics, insomuch as it may have involved the phone lines of a US Senator.

Nevertheless, since O'Keefe -- and everything else about this whole tale, from top to bottom -- was of no legitimate interest to anybody prior to the arrest, there is no reason to attach any significance or importance to his arrest. Certainly no political significance or importance.

Since Maddow agrees, I think, that there was no political significance to all of the nonsense about ACORN and O'Keefe, there is no justification for her taking time to discuss O'Keefe's arrest on her political program -- unless she feels (like the Breitbarts and Malkins of the world) that the opportunity to make sport of an ideological opponent in itself makes a story politically significant enough to discuss. 

So please, Maddow and the rest of you out there who want us to believe that you're not like the Breitbarts and Malkins of the world, do yourselves a favor and don't talk about James O'Keefe.

Except, of course, when explaining why people shouldn't talk about James O'Keefe.

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