How Did They Know?

Rockwell County Line asks a good question about the journalist who uncovered the Acorn scandal:

My question is, how did the film makers know what questions to ask?  Did they have inside information from former workers who had left in disgust when they found out about the perversity of the place?  Had they tried other tacks of questions and never found a limit before (possible drug dealers, counterfeit records for illegals, etc.) so they were escalating until they found something to outrageous that they couldn’t fathom its being supported?

Since this is definitely far from the first time Acorn has enabled criminal activity, I feel certain that the journalist heard stories and decided to follow them up. Apparently, there has been deep suspicion about Acorn in the non-profit world for many years. No doubt the journalist started there.

I do have to give them credit for following up. Frankly, if I had heard reports that a leftist activist organization was involved in base criminality I wouldn’t have believed them. I used to be a lefty myself, and I’ve know too many leftists with great personal integrity, so I don’t associate them with this kind of failure. I wouldn’t have carried out this investigation.

This is a good example of why we need strong partisanship in at least part of the media. At times, we need people who will readily believe something outrageously bad about their political opponents, and who will be motivated to investigate things that will be ignored by the less partisan. We can safely assume that 99% of partisan journalists will produce nothing but noise, but that 1% of the time they will score a hit will make tolerating all that noise worthwhile.

12 thoughts on “How Did They Know?”

  1. Don’t confuse the artist with the art; don’t confuse the members of an organization with its ideology. Every organization is going to have corrupt members, I don’t care what organization you name.

  2. John Burgess,

    Every organization is going to have corrupt members, I don’t care what organization you name.

    That’s true see my previous post on the subject. However, the fact that, at this point, four separate offices all began to give criminal advice to people they didn’t know who just walked in off the street suggest that the organizational culture of Acorn itself is to blame.

    You should also not make the equivalent error of assuming that because someone echos you values and beliefs back to you that therefore they share your moral integrity. That is way that con artist gain people’s trust. Just because Acorn claimed to be helping people doesn’t mean that they were.

    Acorn is something like the U.N. Leftist cannot separate their fantasy of what they think the organization should be from grubby ugly reality of the organization’s real world functioning. Leftist just want Acorn or the U.N. to work so they just pretend it does and then they scream hysterically at anyone who refuses to share in their fantasy.

    This is why the organization grow so corrupt. Leftist refuse to endanger their fantasy by policing their own people and organizations. This makes it easy for sociopaths to infect and eventually control those organizations.

  3. Can’t answer the question you posed any better than you did (rumor) but here’s some possible insight into why they picked the scenario that appears to have succeeded:

    What’s important about prostitution and human trafficking is that they are specific triggers for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO. The RICO law is designed to enable the Justice Department to go after criminal enterprises. It defines “racketeering activity” as including importing illegal aliens for immoral purposes, falsifying identification documents and immigration papers, mail and wire fraud, and the sexual exploitation of children, among others.

    But they were actors; there is no prostitute let alone sexual exploitation of illegal alien children.

    Even though the undercover girl is not a prostitute and there are no El Salvadoran girls either, this could still meet the legal standard for conspiracy to commit these various crimes. At a bare minimum, depending on the state, it likely fulfills the elements for the crime of attempted conspiracy, which usually carries the exact same penalty as the underlying crimes themselves (prostitution, tax fraud, etc.).

  4. Every organization is going to have corrupt members

    What fraction of an organization’s membership needs to be recorded offering to facilitate child prostitution before you begin to suspect something may be amiss? 60? 75?

  5. Your argument in favor of media bias is circular. You say that bias is important because it makes you a better investigator of the other side’s potential scandals.

    But this is begging the question, since your premise was that the bias exists (i.e. you were biased in favor of your party and would not have followed up).

    Further, this assumes that the two parties in power are the entirety of the political spectrum, and that they have meaningfully opposing positions on every issue, which is hardly the case.

    To me, the optimal solution is not a pack of partisan news-entertainment stations going after the opposition party, but rather to strive for a healthy level of skeptical inquiry in investigative journalism. Learn to recognize and ruthlessly pursue your own biases, take ownership of them, and then find workarounds for them.

    For example, 95% of the people who seemed rationally critical of the Bush administration are now in blissful favor of everything the Obama administration does, even where the policies are substantially the same as the previous things they railed against! I look for and pay close attention to the other 5%. Don’t give anyone a pass.

    In my opinion, the reason that the current biased system remains in prominence is that it’s more financially rewarding than the alternative.

  6. Every organization is going to have corrupt members, I don’t care what organization you name.

    And some organizations are going to be more corrupt than others: it’s in their DNA.

  7. Born Again Skeptic,

    To me, the optimal solution is not a pack of partisan news-entertainment stations going after the opposition party, but rather to strive for a healthy level of skeptical inquiry in investigative journalism.

    Well, yes but I think you need some people around who will be willing to look into things people with normal level of skepticism will overlook as to unlikely. Its something like a case a few years ago when a nutjob out looking for bigfoot found some lost hikers.

  8. “I used to be a lefty myself…”

    Is there a story you would like to share? I’m sure we’d all like to hear it.

  9. Shannon, OK, I see what you mean now.

    Well, don’t worry then, because there’s no danger of partisan bias disappearing. Skepticism and rational thinking are difficult behaviors that need to be constantly reinforced and checked. Our minds evolved to be “good enough”, not to be computers. We normally make judgments based on heuristics instead of logic.

    While I think it would be awesome if everyone was taught about critical thinking, logical fallacies and cognitive bias from an early age, I’m confident that there will always be a strong reservoir of wingnuts available to suss out any issues that level-headed skeptics might dismiss out of hand as implausible.

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