Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Media Mores and My Money

WSJ interview with Andrew Breitbart, the guy who strategerized the release of the ACORN videos taken by faux pimp and prostitute, O'Keefe and Giles. The videos caused a sensation, and did all the things Breitbart claims in the interview.
Of most concern to me, though, is the fact that Mr. Breitbart and his crew got the story when other news outlets couldn't (even if they had wanted to) because
The approach Mr. O'Keefe and Ms. Giles used—lying to prospective sources or subjects—is grossly unethical by the standards of institutional journalism. Almost all major news organizations, including the Journal, strictly prohibit it. To be sure, there is a world of difference between employing such tactics and reporting on the results when others have used them. And there is no question that the pair's findings were newsworthy. But journalistic discomfort with their methods is a sign of integrity, not corruption.

I think that it is, in general, a good thing that newspapers will not lie to their sources--would that they had the same concerns about lying to the public (predominately, lying by omission). However, ACORN had accepted millions in federal funds, and my understanding is that they were programmed for billions more through the stimulus plan. That an advocacy organization is so replete with the most vile sort of corruption (facilitating the exploitation of underage sex slaves) is repugnant enough. That they were able to procure and manage millions/billions in federal largess is even worse. They were using our money to commit these criminal acts.
"We" have decided that organizations receiving federal funds are susceptible to having its compensation and payroll capped, and that the investment of federal dollars warrants federal organs monitoring and meddling in the private sector to "micromanagement" levels. I think that anyone accepting federal dollars should expect a corresponding level of scrutiny from the press.
Were every recipient of federal funds aware--"afraid," " leery," and "suspicious" are good, too--that every conversation about the possible illicit use of those funds could be a media "sting" operation, we might find fewer cases of this kind of corruption and abuse.
All federal employees are aware that, as pubic servants, they are subject to scrutiny far more invasive than that of the private citizen. Receipts and reconciliation documents for the expenditure of public funds have to be maintained--and are subject to inspection and inquiry--for years after the transaction occurs. Government computers, phones, and other IT are used with the understanding that there is little to no expectation of privacy. Why should a private sector organization or business accepting public funds get a pass?
The current tsunami of federal spending will spawn a corresponding storm surge of waste, fraud, and abuse. A free, independent press willing to ferret out the bad actors by any means necessary would only strengthen our republic.

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