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O'Reilly, Hannity reach out to ACORN camera duo

It was fascinating to see the reaction on Fox News Thursday night to the announcement that ACORN was suing the filmmakers Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe, along with the Web site Breitbart.com, over the hidden camera recording that the two did at an agency office in Baltimore.

There was Bill O'Reilly offering his sympathy to Andrew Breitbart, the founder of the Web site that first put the film online.

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"I'm sorry you have to go through this, Andrew, I know it's unpleasant," O'Reilly said in opening the interview. Sound sympathetic enough, you think?

And there was Sean Hannity with Giles and her attorney, Kelly Shackelford, skillfully setting them up so that Shackelford could describe the lawsuit as "an attempt to bully a 20-year-old girl" and "to intimidate, to chill speech and freedom of expression."

Hannity, not to be outdone on the sympathy front by O'Reilly, solicitously asked Giles if the lawsuit has "scared" her "a little bit?"

What a pity party and fund raiser for the legal defense fund these two "interviews" turned out to be.

And if you don't think they were about fund raising, consider this exchange between O'Reilly and Breitbart.

"Do you have lawyers helping you with it? Because you know, this is expensive," O'Reilly said. "That's what lawsuits are -- they try to break you financially."

"...I just want everybody to know we will be advertising Hannah and James' defense fund at BigGovernment.com (one of Brietbart's Web sites)," Breitbart said.

Sounding much like Shackelford, Breitbart also said the lawsuit was an "attempt to stifle free speech and the First Amendment."

Nonsense. Only on the cube-sided Bizarro Planet are O'Keefe and Giles champions of the First Amendment.

I'll spare you the right-wing rhetoric about how these two young filmmakers -- ages 20 and 25 -- are supposedly heroes for allegedly doing what the mainstream media should have done but didn't because (fill in the blank choosing among the following terms from the dictionary of right-wing, TV talking points: "they're a bunch of sell-outs," "they're gutless" or "they are toothless dinosaurs crawling to the boneyard where dead liberal stooges go to die.")

Let me just try to set a couple of things straight in this highly-politicized pile of mud.

First, save the tears about this poor "20-year-old girl" allegedly being bullied. Giles and O'Keefe broke a law. I know this law about as well as anyone, because I was subpoened as a witness in a case that featured John Stossel charged with a felony for allegedly doing what O'Keefe and Giles admitted doing -- taping without consent. Ironically, I wound up being threatened with jail for declining to testify. Read about it here.

Second, the reason members of the mainstream media didn't do what these two did is that very few  responsible TV news operations use hidden cameras any more. The CBS News magazine "60 Minutes," for example, gave them up years ago.

Number two, no responsible news operation allows the kind of entrapment they practiced.

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And number three, responsible journalists know the laws, and rarely if ever do they break the laws to get a story.

If you and your editors should decide a story is worth breaking the law, then you face the consequences of your actions. You expect lawsuits or criminal prosecution. And if that means going to jail, then you go to jail.

You don't go on cable TV and whine about it -- and ask for money.

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