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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Culture of Corruption Between Michelle Malkin and Anita Moncrief

On July 27th, Michelle Malkin launched the publicity tour for Culture of Corruption on Sean Hannity's radio show. Starting on May 18th, the same Michelle Malkin began writing a series of blog posts that featured Anita Moncrief, an informant that blew the whistle on a connection between ACORN and the Obama administration. Malkin has used the monikor "whistle blower" to describe Moncrief, and her coverage hasn't merely been positive but sometimes downright fawning in describing Moncrief. In fact, Malkin featured Moncrief ten times before the book came out. Before this post on the 18th, Malkin had written only once about Moncrief. She has continued to write about Moncrief and has now featured her 26 times since the 18th. This isn't merely a coincidence, in fact, Moncrief is featured in Chapter 8 of Malkin's book. Moncrief is the person most responsible for Malkin's connection between ACORN and the Obama administration.

In fact, it appears that Anita Moncrief is Malkin's only source related to ACORN. If she isn't, Malkin certainly keeps her other sources under wraps because no one else is written about nearly as much. None of this is, in and of itself, a problem. What is a problem is that Malkin willfully doesn't disclose all sorts of things about Moncrief, things that would hurt Moncrief's credibility, and her own relationship with Moncrief. For instance, while she wrote about Moncrief ten times prior to her book being released, never once did Malkin disclose that Moncrief would be featured in the book. It wouldn't have taken much to say, "for full disclosure Anita Moncrief is a source of mine for chapter 8 of my upcoming book". That should have been stated because Malkin was systematically working to increase Moncrief's credibility and visibility with the enormous attention she was paying to her. As such, her readers had a right to know that the same person who's credibility and visibility she was propping up was going to be a source in a chapter in her upcoming book.

More than that, Malkin has simply misconstrued Moncrief. She has misconstrued Moncrief in a way that has made Moncrief look more positive than is reality. In other words, Malkin has emphasized positive things about Moncrief while ignoring or downplaying things that are negative. Malkin calls Anita Moncrief a whistle blower. That's probably an overstatement. Whistle blowers, in the traditional sense, find corruption while working for an organization and blow the whistle while still there. Anita Moncrief didn't do that. Before that, Anita Moncrief applied for a Project Vote credit card, her then employer, under false pretenses. She then used that credit card for personal items. Project Vote found this out and fired her. Only after she was fired did Anita Moncrief blow the whistle on corruption. She didn't seem to notice any corruption at Project Vote while they gave her a paycheck. It was only after she wasn't receiving a paycheck did she notice this corruption. Traditional whistle blowers risk their careers and livelihood to blow the whistle on corruption. Moncrief didn't do that. Furthermore, the theft and fraud obviously go to her credibility. This is mentioned rarely, if ever, by Malkin. Yet, almost every time, Malkin uses the monikor, whistleblower, to describe Moncrief. In fact, in her book, Malkin addressed the theft merely by saying, "Moncrief who was fired by Project Vote for using a company credit card to charge LESS THAN $2000". (emphasis mine) She went on to write for almost ten pages about Moncrief and this was the only mention of the theft.

Beyond this, Malkin often misconstrues Moncrief's contribution to the ACORN story. For instance, here's what Malkin said about Moncrief in a September 16th piece.


All of this information is readily available on the Internet, and MonCrief continues to expose ACORN’s tentacles and thuggery at her own blog here despite Project Vote’s litigious efforts to shut her down. News outlets including the Examiner and Fox News have relied on her whistle-blowing testimony and reporting for months — including her knowledge of ACORN’s Muscle for Money program & the H&R Block shakedown, and ACORN’s gala for Democrats in New York in June to celebrate its 39th anniversary.

Even if everything were accurate, it would be totally inappropriate. Malkin is giving the reader Moncrief's resume. That's totally inappropriate for a source. A source is to be identified not promoted. On top of this, there's so much inaccuracy here it's stunning. First, Fox News cut ties with Moncrief months ago. Glenn Beck's staff found out about Moncrief's theft. Beck was reportedly rather perturbed but was about to forgive her and put her on the air anyway. Then, Moncrief told him she couldn't appear one day and he saw her on another show. At that point, he cut ties and the rest of Fox News followed. Fox News has had scant contact with her since then. To say that Fox News has relied on her for months is a total mischaracterization. It's unclear if Malkin means the D.C. Examiner or if she means examiner.com with the other reference. Moncrief writes for examiner.com but that is a site where almost anyone can have their own blog. If they rely on her it's because she writes for them. As for the D.C. Examiner, their reporters have a plethora of sources and they don't rely on anyone person. Moncrief is nowhere near any of their reporter's most important source on the ACORN story.

Malkin mentions the H&R Block shakedown as something that Moncrief has been feeding the media. Here's what I wrote about that situation about this scheme to shakedown H&R Block in February.


All of this is done in order to beat the target into submission. For weeks and months, ACORN goes on a relentless campaign of harrassment in which a powerful CEO can't seem to shake this group. Wherever they go, ACORN is there, and often they are there before the target. One such campaign involved H&R Block. ACORN showed up at the home of then CEO, Mark Ernst. The relentlessly harrassed him all over his neighborhood. They showed up everywhere he frequented until he became a pariah in his own neighborhood. They finally got concessions. They teamed up to provide free tax service in low income areas. ACORN got a piece of H&R Block's Emerald
Cards
. Of course, that's what the media knows about. What's almost certain is that ACORN also received, and likely continues to receive, cash payments directly from H&R Block. Of course, we'll never know how much, if any, cash payments were transferred. That's because all cash that ACORN receives starts in their so called accounting firm, Citizen's Consulting Inc. Because both H&R Block and CCI are both private companies, seeing their books is next to impossible. As such any payments are hidden in the books of two companies that aren't sharing them.

Without revealing my sources, I can tell you I never spoke to Moncrief for this story. I didn't rely on her and unless my sources only spoke to me, no one else did either. In fact, in the article Malkin herself references, Moncrief is quoted after two other former ACORN members (Marcel Reid and Karen Inman) are quoted. The article doesn't rely on Moncrief. Instead, she's used as further evidence. With or without her, the article could have been written and the same point would have been made.

What's worse is that Michelle Malkin misconstrues Moncrief's worth unnecessarily. Moncrief was interviewed by Congressman Darrell Issa's committee for his report. She's testified at a court case on voter registration fraud in Pennsylvania. Moncrief has done plenty to build up her credibility without simply making things up like Fox News relying on her when they cut ties to her months ago.

Another example involved the recent revelation of the Louisiana AG about the embezzlement of Dale Rathke. A couple weeks back, the Attorney General of Louisiana reported that the embezzlement of Dale Rathke may have been as much as $5 million. (it was originally reported at about $1 million) Once again, Malkin made it seem as though Moncrief was leading the charge in reporting this number.


Former ACORN/Project Vote worker Anita MonCrief — the independent whistleblower who worked closely with NYTimes reporter Stephanie Strom on exposing ACORN financial shenanigans last year before Times editors “cut bait” just weeks before Election Day — informed Strom that the true figure was $5 million.

MonCrief also reported the $5 million figure to Warner Todd Huston in April 2009.

Hey, New York Times conservative media monitor: Why don’t you ask Strom about this? Why don’t you ask MonCrief?

Too bad none of this is true. First, the $5 million figure hasn't been confirmed, not even by the AG himself. He's suggested that the figure might be that high. Second, this $5 million figure was discussed at a board meeting of ACORN. Anita Moncrief wasn't on the board. So, if she knew the $5 million figure, she got it from someone at the board meeting. That figure was one of several mentioned and so no one would have responsibly reported that figure definitively. No news organization should have ever responsibly reported that figure as fact. They certainly shouldn't have credited Anita Moncrief for suggesting this figure since she would have gotten it second hand. In fact, to this day, no one, but those responsible for the embezzlement, know for sure just how much, exactly, was embezzled. Yet, Malkin not only reports it as true but makes it seem as though Moncrief was ahead of the curve in reporting it.

Therein lies the rub. Anita Moncrief worked in an office of Project Vote. That office shared space with ACORN, and according to Moncrief, their operations overlapped. Furthermore, according to Moncrief, ACORN used Project Vote to conduct campaign work on behalf of the Obama administration. That's the extent of Anita Moncrief's knowledge of ACORN and Project Vote. Anita Moncrief knows nothing else that many others can't confirm as well. In fact, most of what Moncrief knows, she has learned from other members of ACORN. It is these people that have become lead sources for journalists like Glenn Beck, Kevin Mooney, and Matt Vadum. Outside of James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, Malkin never acknowledges in her blog that anyone outside of Moncrief has contributed anything to exposing ACORN since she began writing about Moncrief. Yet, Anita Moncrief is the only one making the connection between ACORN and the Obama administration so closely. That's how Moncrief became important to Malkin's book, which is about President Obama's Culture of Corruption. Yet, Malkin doesn't appear to have any other sources and that leads naturally to overestimating the one source she does have. As such, rather than merely reporting on the information that Moncrief has, Malkin has become Moncrief's chief promoter. When journalists promote people, that's propaganda not journalism, and that's what we have here. Michelle Malkin has stopped being a journalist on this and is simply a propagandist for Anita Moncrief. Malkin has become a propagandist because Moncrief is her only source. Yet, given her theft and other misdeeds, Moncrief's credibility would be at issue if Michelle Malkin always disclosed the whole story. So, Malkin simply ignores all those inconvenient facts about Moncrief in reporting on her.

It's even worse than that. Malkin could get around dealing with Moncrief. Here's what Malkin said in a September 16th piece.


The files that Strom was planning to get from MonCrief (files that I have since obtained and reviewed) were spreadsheets of donors from Democrat campaigns — Obama, Clinton, Kerry — as well as from the Democratic National Committee that had been passed on to non-profit, tax-exempt, and supposedly non-partisan Project Vote.


If Malkin has spreadsheets that prove a connection between Obama and ACORN all she ever needed to do was download those and link to them every time she tried to prove the connection between Obama and ACORN. That's it. Malkin would never even have to mention Anita Moncrief. Documents don't lie. They have no credibility issues. If Malkin wanted to prove that Obama and ACORN have an incontrovertible connection, all she ever needed to do was download the pertinent documents and simply refer to them. There would no longer be a story here because Malkin wouldn't need to use her pages to prop up Moncrief's credibility by giving her credit for things Moncrief's never done and ignoring bad things that Moncrief has done. Instead, Malkin has stopped using Moncrief as a source and instead has turned Moncrief into a campaign. She has given Moncrief credit for just about everything broken on ACORN even though Moncrief's knowledge was specific to one thing. She's all but ignored everything that Moncrief's done that would hurt her credibility.

All of this would be bad enough except that Malkin has done all of this in lieu of her book coming out in which Moncrief is the one and only source for much of a chapter that links Obama to ACORN. One of the dangers of using a source exclusively is that you have to hope that their credibility can never be challenged. That's not the case with Moncrief. So, starting two months prior to the release of her book, Michelle Malkin has orchestrated a campaign that, by accident or design, has propped up Moncrief's credibility and knowledge far beyond where either should be. Only Michelle Malkin knows what her motivation is in doing this. Yet, maximizing Anita Moncrief's knowledge of ACORN and credibility certainly helps the credibility of Malkin's book. That helps book sales. If people question Anita Moncrief's credibility, they'll question the entire chapter. Some may even question why Malkin relied on her exclusively to begin with. So, there's certainly the appearance of impropriety, be it accidental or intentional. Whatever her motivations, there's no question that Michelle Malkin has systematically emphasized that Anita Moncrief is a whistle blower while all but ignoring her fraud and her theft. In fact, Malkin has all but ignored that the chain of events lead to the impression that far from a crusading whistle blower Anita Moncrief is simply a disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind. That certainly doesn't mean that Moncrief isn't telling the truth but it's not up to Michelle Malkin to decide this. It's up to her to give her audience all the information each and everytime so they can decide.

How many times are conservatives up in arms when someone in the MSM quotes a left winger without identifying them as such? That's really no different than what is happening here. Anita Moncrief is presented as a crusading whistle blower that's merely hoping to bring the truth to light. That's only the case because Michelle Malkin has chosen to give Moncrief credit for things that simply aren't accurate and to dismiss and simply not report those things that would run counter to that image. That's corrupt. So, what are we to make of a journalist engaging in such corruption that has the gaul to do it all in producing a book called Culture of Corruption?

Here's the previous pieces on the event surounding this corruption.

7 comments:

Jason Gillman said...

Corruption? Please...

Different when it has to do with affective results such as those with a government official screwing the constituents.

This is a book sold for profit. It relies on a certain degree of believability, and if Ms Moncrief becomes unbelievable it fails.

Don't go all "Bill O'Reilly" on us.. At least get the terms correct.. Corruption no. Lack of the complete story? Maybe.

mike volpe said...

I think if this were about liberals telling a liberal story, you wouldn't be so careful with your words. Lack of a complete story is a nice way of saying that Malkin is corrupt.

This isn't about whether or not Moncrief is believable. This is about how Malkin presents her. Her believablity is for everyone to decide for themselves. Malkin willfully doesn't disclose certain information about a source while simply mischaracterizing other aspects of the same source, and she doesn't disclose her own relationship with that source. What do you call it if not corrupt?

Jason Gillman said...

Its a matter of effect.

If in fact the intent to pervert the truth was made, the absolute definition is correct, but to compare it to paybacks and payoffs ala Obama, Rahm, and company does a disservice to your reader.

You might well say "I really don't trust her" and it would be more correct than suggesting she has done great harm through government action which is obviously beyond her ability as a private citizen. Perhaps a measured difference we have.

You will likely find me agreeing with you most often. This time I find it hard. I simply cannot get behind what I see as a "balance attack" on someone OUTSIDE the system using the tools she has at hand to try to dig INTO the system.

mike volpe said...

I didn't even mention Obama and Emanuel. You did. So, the only one suggesting that she did is you. The only disservice is to dismiss this for some lousy excuse. A journalist should each and every time give their reader all the pertinent information that they have available. Period. Malkin didn't do that. Call it what you want, but she did what she did.

I am not going to get into the weeds over labels. If you don't want to call it corruption, that's your prerogative. What she did is laid out, you want to get into an argument over labels. I want to lay out what she did.

West said...

This is an old trick - attack the messenger and denigrate the transport too. Fine, so let's stay on subject here - Is ACORN a mofiaosa-like corrupt organization or not and can we seek out more scholarly documentation without with little or no reference to either Malkin or MonCrief? Yes, we can. In both Professor Stanley Krutz's well documented book, RADICAL IN CHIEF and Matthew Vadum's SUBVERSION INC., we not only HAVE THE DOCUMENTED PROOF to substantiate charges of ACORN CORRUPTION but their documentation blows past Malkins! So can we stay on point?- West

mike volpe said...

That's what happens when you drop in for one story and comment.

I've written plenty about ACORN and frankly I am one of the few journalists that has interviewed both members of ACORN 8 and Wade Rathke. Their own potential crimes doesn't excuse the corruption here. I ignored neither but you just assumed I only wrote about one.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think of Malkin anymore. Her dance parody of Michelle Obama was beyond stupid and immature.

She seems to be a wing nut who is propped up by Regnery (has any other publisher acquired her books?) and then promoted throughout the conservative media through what can only be considered "crony capitalism" -- the very kind she constantly complains about.

Malkin's profile and prominence in the media easily exceed her ability. She is little more than a conservative clown. Twitchy? Great profit generator, but stupid tabloid conservatism.

Malkin is a really stupid, overvalued idiot who doesn't dig deeply into stories, merely parrots bullet points, and promoted Moncrief because she was being propped up by other conservatives.

Michelle Malkin is hopelessly corrupt. She is the penultimate crony capitalist who exploits the culture of corruption within the conservative movement to line her own pcokets.