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ACORN Sting Tape EDITED: Rachel Maddow Dissects Edit-Bay Trickery (VIDEO)

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The hidden-camera tapes of ACORN employees supposedly advising conservative activists disguised as a pimp and prostitute on the best ways to launder their money were, it turns out, heavily edited, as Rachel Maddow documented Tuesday night.

As Maddow notes, conservatives James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles were not, in fact, in costume during their interviews with ACORN employees. They did, however, openly discuss crimes they claimed they were planning to commit, and ACORN employees promptly reported them to the police.

Maddow's segment follows a report from California Attorney General Jerry Brown that ACORN employees committed no crimes in the O'Keefe-Giles case, and corrections by the Public Editor of the New York Times to some of the misleading editing accepted as fact in the paper of record.

But as Maddow acknowledges below, it was too little, too late. ACORN became a pariah, lost its funding, and on the verge of bankruptcy has disbanded, though its local pieces survive in other forms.

"This is not meant to excuse what ACORN has done wrong in the past," Maddow said in summary. "But the huge tide of negative publicity that followed these videotapes and the coverage they got on Fox wall-to-wall for months was bullpuckey. It was a dishonest political stunt that bears no resemblance to journalism and no resemblance to the actual facts of what happened in those offices. But it worked ... means be damned, in the end, it worked. Who do you think is next on their list?"

Meanwhile, O'Keefe and Giles have been feted by the conservative movement, despite O'Keefe's subsequent arrest for breaking into Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.

WATCH the Maddow segment:

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Filed by Jeff Muskus