Just so everybody's clear, the pimp story has been debunked. James O'Keefe never wore his pimp costume into ACORN offices last summer as part of the right-wing sting. The outfit was used as a prop to attack the community organizing group.
It turns out it wasn't enough to capture dubious ACORN practices on tape. Instead, Andrew Breitbart, along with his colleagues O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, were so consumed by hatred for an underfunded and somewhat adrift nonprofit, and they were so determined to demonize ACORN, that they helped spread the phony pimp story in order to convince people that clueless ACORN workers were not only immoral, but also fools for not being able to spot the pimp spoof a mile away.
Last week, when highlighting how the pimp story was a fake, I stressed two things. First, that fact does not change what happened on the Candid Camera tapes, and it certainly doesn't excuse the behavior of the low-level ACORN staffers who seemed shockingly eager to help people skirt the law. Second, the pimp revelation does raise all sorts of questions about the ethics and accuracy of Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles and indicate that the hoax should send up a red flag among journalists. Breitbart claims he's championing a new breed of "journalism." But is his brand built on lies?
If the trio's willing to obfuscate about clothing, then reporters and pundits need to use extreme caution when dealing with any claim they make in the future. And that probably goes double for O'Keefe, who offered up pretty dubious spin following his arrest in New Orleans last month in connection with the Keystone Kop capering inside Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
So last week, Media Matters helped highlight how the pimp story was bogus, and what did Breitbart do in response? Did he accept responsibility and make plain to his Big Government readers that any confusion on the pimp issue was his fault and that he regrets not being straight about it?
Of course not. Breitbart, allergic to fair play and decency, at first insisted he had nothing to correct in an earlier Washington Times column, even though he falsely reported O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving ACORN advice. He then posted a nasty, insincere "correction" via Twitter. And at CPAC last weekend, his voice dripping with contempt, Breitbart announced he was "so sorry" that O'Keefe "apparently" hadn't been dressed as a flamboyant pimp when taping ACORN.
But now the fooling is over, and it's time for Breitbart, O'Keefe, and Giles to come clean about the ACORN pimp hoax and their role in spreading it.
Read the entire Media Matters column here.