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Politico's Mike Allen: Networks Have to Cover 'Real News;' Too Busy to Talk About ACORN

The Politico's Mike Allen appeared on Wednesday's Morning Joe to both defend the mainstream media's decision to ignore the ACORN controversy and agree that a double standard is at work. Commenting on a piece he wrote about the subject, the former New York Times reporter spun, "And what we heard was news executives saying that there's so much out there. Two wars, health care, a President who's struggling, that they didn't have time to focus on this."

Asserting that, somehow, Americans should appreciate the media's efforts to spike coverage of ACORN, He cheered, "I think we should be grateful for that filter so that you go to places- NBC News, Politico, others- that you can trust and you'll know that what is there is accurate and not speculation." Grateful? How can viewers be expected to trust a source when that outlet ignores certain inconvenient stories?

At the same time, Allen admitted that this was a "wake-up" call for journalists and he agreed with host Joe Scarborough's contention that if the Christian Coalition had been caught in a sting operation encouraging illegal activity, it would have been a "huge story."

Co-host Willie Geist noted that ACORN has blamed the scandal, in which employees can be seen apparently condoning a child prostitution ring, on a "Fox News obsession." Allen, the chief political correspondent for Politico, then delved into the mind set of those in the so-called mainstream media: "The topic- and this is one of the reasons that reporters, including myself, initially tuned this out- is that ACORN has been an obsession. ACORN has been a longtime whipping boy."

Scarborough pointed out the obvious double standard: "...If the Christian Coalition had been involved in something like that in 1995, The New York Times would have picked that up, and it would have been on the front page the next day."

Allen responded with yet another excuse: "And the fact is that people assume that these decisions are ideological when, in fact, we have other blinders. And they included the fact there is all this other real news that news organizations have to cover whereas bloggers can focus on one particular thing. They don't also have to pay attention to Afghanistan."

In the Politico piece by Allen, ABC World News producer Jon Banner huffed that there's a "tremendous amount of...noise." He added, "We're not in the business of noise."

A transcript of the September 16 segment, which aired at 6:20 am EDT, follows:

WILLIE GEIST: Let's pick up where we left off yesterday, Mike Allen. We were talking about this ACORN story. And we just kind of got into the angle of how the media had covered or not covered this story. What did you find when you looked into it?

MIKE ALLEN: Well, Willie, I always do what Mika tells me. And I usually do what Joe tells me. And Joe said that we need to take a closer look at the media coverage. I enjoyed his conversation on his radio show with Chuck Todd. I agree with Joe's point that, if the Christian Coalition had done what ACORN did at the peak of its power, it would have been a huge story. So, I and Politico's Michael Calderon called around to news executives and said, "Why were you caught flat footed on this? Why did this bubble out there, clearly damning evidence against ACORN that the government has now acted on?" The Census Bureau has cut off its relationship. Congress is going to cut off funding. And what we heard was news executives saying that there's so much out there. Two wars, health care, a President who's struggling, that they didn't have time to focus on this. And that they put the news through a closer filter. I think we should be grateful for that filter so that you go to places- NBC News, Politico, others- that you can trust and you'll know that what is there is accurate and not speculation. But, Willie, it's a wake up call to us that, that when there is news out there that people do care about, we need to be quicker because, if we don't, people will turn to other places for news.

GEIST: And the ACORN story has been portrayed as a FOX News obsession. But, in your estimation, certainly, a worthy story that's an important story to this conversation.

ALLEN: Right. The topic- and this is one of the reasons that reporters, including myself, initially tuned this out- is that ACORN has been an obsession. ACORN has been a longtime whipping boy. There's all kinds- You get into crazy E-mails about ACORN- and nobody has time to process all that. But, these videos that were posted on Andrew Breitbart's site, BigGovernment.com, did, indeed, show impropriety. So, I guess it shows that we need to read our e-mails. John Banner, the executive producer of ABC's World News said that this has been noise,, that they're not in the business of noise. And the anchor Charlie Gibson said he was asked about it on a radio show the other day, yesterday, in fact, and said he hadn't heard of these.

GEIST: Joe is in California. He's got a question for you, Mike.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, I was just going to say, Mike, I agree with you. I think the reason why the mainstream media got caught flat footed on this story and on the Van Jones story- and I don't say this to be with any malice- I say this to help my fellow friends in the mainstream media, because it was a Fox News story that they had been driving. And so they reacted against it. "Now that Fox News is doing it. Oh, my gosh, it must be bias.' And I think, because of that, they missed two fairly good sized stories. And again, I would challenge anybody, Mike- and I'm glad you said what you said- to suggest that if the Christian Coalition had been involved in something like that in 1995, The New York Times would have picked that up, and it would have been on the front page the next day.

ALLEN: Yeah, it would have been candid. No question.

SCARBOROUGH: And people like me that were supported by the Christian Coalition would have been hammered day in and day out and day in. And I saw that happen time and again.

ALLEN: Yeah. That's right. And the fact is that people assume that these decisions are ideological when, in fact, we have other blinders. And they included the fact there is all this other real news that news organizations have to cover whereas bloggers can focus on one particular thing. They don't also have to pay attention to Afghanistan.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.