O’Keefe’s Petard (Cartoon and Column)
James O’Keefe is a conservative provocateur who has spent years trying to prove liberals and those who report the news are just as horrible, unethical, and dishonest as he is. It doesn’t matter to conservatives that each time he’s released the results of one of his sting operations that it’s always packaged with lies.
O’Keefe leads Project Veritas, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. It’s received financial support from Breitbart and The Trump Foundation. O’Keefe conducts sting operations where he and others infiltrate organizations under false pretenses to prove they’re breaking the law or being abusive and dishonest. To do this, O’Keefe has broken the law and been abusive and dishonest. He always deceptively edits videos and recordings to make people appear to be saying something they didn’t say. He’s had large successes and even larger failures.
He brought down ACORN with misleading videos and exposed an NPR executive making partisan remarks. He’s also been arrested while conducting a sting operation against then-Senator Mary Landrieu in New Orleans. Last year, his operation accidentally left a voicemail for a George Soros group it was trying to sting, laying out its whole plan. In 2010, he plotted to embarrass CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau by mock-seducing her on a boat equipped with sex toys. His latest blunder was a sting operation against The Washington Post.
There’s already a large segment of the conservative population that refuses to believe anything that comes from the legitimate press. If it’s from CNN, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, they automatically believe it’s a lie. One conservative recently stated that if Jesus Christ returned and told him Donald Trump colluded with Russia that he’d have to hear it straight from Trump before he could believe Jesus. O’Keefe set out to justify these ridiculous beliefs of people living in an alternative reality.
Many conservatives don’t believe the women who have accused Roy Moore, the Republican nominee of Alabama’s Senate seat, of pedophilia and attempts to date teenage girls. They believe The Washington Post is creating these allegations and paying women for their statements. They believe The Post has an anti-conservative agenda. When you are an organization that presents facts, you are often accused of being anti-conservative.
O’Keefe set out to prove that the Post doesn’t use ethical guidelines in its reporting and research and that they will publish any lie presented to them about a conservative. His agenda was to discredit alleged sexual-abuse victims by planting a fake news story with a legitimate news outlet.
He sent a woman named Jaime Phillips to contact the Post with a false story that she had an abortion after Roy Moore impregnated her when she was 15. She hoped the Post reporters would believe her, run the story, and then O’Keefe would produce videos proving how reckless and dishonest they truly are. He failed. The paper did what it’s supposed to do and checked out the story, which is what real journalists do.
The Post’s reporters researched the woman and her background and it didn’t add up. She claimed she only spent one summer in Alabama while she was a teenager, yet she had a number with that state’s area code and “rolltide” as part of her email address.
Reporters were concerned by Phillips asking repeatedly if her story would lose the election for Roy Moore. She was baiting to catch them in a way that would suggest they were out to get Moore. Unfortunately for her, she was dealing with some of the best reporters in the nation.
Phillips claimed she worked for a lending company in Westchester, New York, but when the Post called that company for verification, they said “who?” She also claimed she interviewed for a job at the Daily Caller, a conservative muckraking website. She named a woman named Kathy Johnson as her contact. That person doesn’t exist and the Daily Caller told The Post that Phillips didn’t interview there.
Here’s where it gets even dumber. Phillips created a GoFundMe page seeking to raise money for a move to New York where she planned to find work in the “conservative media exposing the lies and deceit of the liberal MSM.” One of the contributors was her daughter, but I’m guessing Roy Moore is not her daddy.
And then came the real kicker. Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas. They noticed there was only 16 miles between her home and O’Keefe’s office, so they followed her. Phillips did not respond to calls from the Post later in the day.
After Phillips was observed entering the Project Veritas office, The Post made the unusual decision to report her previous off-the-record comments.
“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”
Conservatives have created lies that the Post paid Moore’s accusers, and they even conducted a robocall falsely claiming to be a Post reporter seeking women “willing to make damaging remarks” about Moore for money.
O’Keefe proved, like most conservatives, that he doesn’t understand how basic journalism works. Instead of destroying the credibility of Roy Moore’s accusers and The Washington Post, he helped it. He proved that the newspaper puts serious research into their reporting before they go to print. O’Keefe was out of his league.
Post reporters confronted O’Keefe outside his office, and he refused to answer their questions, but told them to return at a later time…which he used to prepare for them. They confronted him again, which he filmed and later edited to make it look like he was interviewing and catching them with a hidden agenda. O’Keefe actually complained about the Post “ambushing” him.
Here’s the thing about that “ambush,” James. When the Post’s reporters came to you, they weren’t lying about who they are or their objectives. You should try that approach.
Project Veritas is an official tax-exempt charity and it pulled in $4.8 million in 2016. O’Keefe pulls in around $240,000 a year, which is a lot more than an honest, sarcastic, freelancing political cartoonist makes.
Project Veritas must steer clear of political activity to maintain its tax-exempt status. They’re definitely not supposed to be supporting candidates. But, with his sting operation of a sitting senator and defense of a candidate, they’re definitely being political. I hope the IRS conducts their own research into this organization to see if they deserve to keep their status as a tax-exempt charity.
Maybe there should also be a rule where you lose your tax exemption if your organization lies, distorts, breaks laws in sting operations, and defends pedophiles.
If you can’t use facts to fight your enemies then you’re on the wrong side of the fight.
Email Clay Jones at [email protected]