Friday, March 8, 2013

ACORN employee wins $100,000 lawsuit

James O'Keefe

Remember James O'Keefe, the darling of the right for bringing down ACORN, prancing around in that ridiculous pimp suit? It turned out, of course, that he hadn't actually dressed that way and that he'd edited that famous video in other ways, too - specifically to make ACORN employees look bad.

It worked, of course. Those things always do. Republicans jumped all over it (jumping on the bandwagon against ACORN seems to be pretty much the only thing my own senator, Mike Johanns, has ever done in the Senate), and timid Democrats couldn't run for the hills fast enough. Even ACORN itself fired those employees before learning the truth.

By the time multiple investigations showed how much of it was a lie, it was too late for ACORN. They closed in 2010. (Humorously, this hasn't stopped 49% of Republicans from thinking that ACORN stole the 2012 election for Barack Obama. Well, what's a little thing like not existing, compared to the power of the right-wing bubble?)

But now I see that one of those ex-ACORN employees profiled by O'Keefe, Juan Carlos Vera, has won $100,000 - and an apology - from him (and another $50,000, apparently, from O'Keefe's partner in the scam, Hannah Giles).

Yeah, that's good news. I'm happy for Vera, who didn't do anything wrong, but still lost his job and his reputation. But it doesn't come close to making up for the harm all this has done.

James O'Keefe was, and is, a political operative, not a journalist. His intent was to make ACORN look bad, because ACORN helped low-income and minority families register to vote, and those voters tend to support Democratic candidates. At its heart, it was just voter suppression.

And it worked. It was wildly successful. ACORN is no more, and much of the country still believes the worst about them. Is it any wonder that O'Keefe has become such a darling on the right? I'm sure there are more than enough wealthy Republican donors who'll find $100,000 to be a very cheap price for getting all that.

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