“ACORN AND THE FIRESTORM”

May 22, 2018 at 5:15 am

A new Independent Lens documentary explores the rise and fall ACORN, America’s controversial community organizing group that sought to empower marginalized communities. “ACORN and the Firestorm” goes beyond the 24-hour news cycle and cuts to the heart of real people affected by the scandal. We have a preview.

Aired on May 21, 2018.

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>>> IT WAS A POLITICAL SCANDAL
ROOTED IN HALF TRUTHS,
CORRUPTION, IGNORANCE, AND RIGHT
WING MEDIA HYPE.
THE 2009 FALL OF A.C.O.R.N. WAS
PERHAPS A HARBINGER OF OUR
CURRENT POLITICAL REALITY, AND
THE SUBJECT OF A NEW DOCUMENTARY
AIRING THIS WEEK ON PBS.
A.C.O.R.N. AND THE FIRESTORM
EXPLORES HOW A 40-YEAR-OLD
COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATION
BOASTING 400,000 MEMBERS, AND A
TRACK RECORD OF FIGHTING FOR THE
DISENFRANCHISED ON A RANGE OF
ISSUES, WAS BROUGHT DOWN BY
MISINFORMATION, INTERNAL
PROBLEMS, AND A CONTROVERSIAL
VI
VIDEO.
HERE'S A PREVIEW.
>> IN 2008, A SCANDAL BROUGHT
DOWN A GIANT AMONG COMMUNITY
ORGANIZERS, WHEN A SACRED VIDEO
RECORDING WENT VIRAL.
>> A PROSTITUTE WALKS INTO
A.C.O.R.N. SEEKING HOUSING FOR
HER BROTHEL.
>> THIS WAS A POTENTIAL
FIRESTORM.
>> THE PREMISE OF THE VIDEOS WAS
MISLEADING.
YOU DON'T SEE THE LIE.
WE DIDN'T WORK FOR 40 YEARS TO
LET SOMEBODY RUN OVER US.
>> "A.C.O.R.N. AND THE
FIRESTORM," PART OF INDEPENDENT
LENS ON PBS.
>> AND JOINING US NOW IS ONE OF
THE CO-DIRECTORS AND
CO-PRODUCERS, RUBEN.
WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU.
>> IN THE INTEREST OF FULL
DISCLOSURE, I HAVE TO SAY ONCE
UPON A TIME I WAS AN A.C.O.R.N.
ORGANIZER, UNPAID, IN
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA.
SO I KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE
ORGANIZATION.
BUT FOR VIEWERS, GIVE US A
SUMMARY OF THE ORGANIZATION.
>> THAT'S AWESOME YOU WERE AN
ORGANIZER.
SO A.C.O.R.N. WAS A COMMUNITY
ORGANIZATION, AND OLD SCHOOL
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING TACTICS.
WE WENT DOOR TO DOOR IN PEOPLE'S
COMMUNITIES.
BUT IT FOUGHT ALONG THE LINES OF
ECONOMIC JUSTICE FOR 40 YEARS.
AND IN 2008, IT CAME UNDER
VICIOUS ATTACKS BY A POLITICAL
OPPONENT.
AND WITHIN A YEAR AND A HALF,
THE ORGANIZATION WAS GONE.
>> WHAT WERE THE PRINCIPLE
ACCUSATIONS FROM CONSERVATIVES,
CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS AND
CONSERVATIVE MEDIA AGAINST
A.C.O.R.N. IN 2008SOME
>> ONE OF THE THINGS WE TRIED TO
DO AND SHOW IN THE FILM IS THAT
THEY HAD A MASSIVE VOTER
REGISTRATION EFFORT.
THEY WERE BASICALLY THE MOST
SUCCESSFUL AT GOING INTO LOW
INCOME COMMUNITIES, ESPECIALLY
PEOPLE OF COLOR, AND REGISTERING
THEM.
SO MOBILIZING ON THE INTERNET
WAS STARTING, AND DOING WELL.
BUT THEY WERE THE ONES ON THE
GROUND, AND SO THEY WOULD HIRE
PEOPLE WHO WOULD GO OUT AND THEY
DIDN'T WANT TO SORT OF DO THE
HARD WORK AND SOME OF THEM WOULD
WRITE THINGS ON FORMS LIKE
MICKEY MOUSE.
>> WHAT WAS THE SECOND LINE OF
ATTACK?
>> SO BARACK OBAMA GOT ELECTED
AND THE VOTER REGISTRATION, YOU
KNOW, ACCUSATIONS SORT OF DIED
DOWN A LITTLE BIT.
PROSTITUTES INTO THE COUNTRY,
AND WHAT CHARACTERISTICS THEY
SHOULD HAVE.
I MEAN, THAT WAS DEVASTATING.
SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN?
>> WELL, WHAT WE SHOW IN THE
FILM IS THAT THERE'S A MUCH MORE
COMPLICATED STORY THAT WAS
ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
AND THAT THE RELEASE OF THE
VIDEOS AND WHAT WENT DOWN IN
EACH OFFICE WASN'T AS CUT AND
TRY AS SEEMED.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH, RUBEN.
THE DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES
MONDAY, MAY 21st HERE ON PBS.
CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS FOR
VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES.