Conservative Watchdog O’Keefe Barks Up Wrong Tree

Conservative Watchdog O’Keefe Barks Up Wrong Tree

Conservative Watchdog O’Keefe Barks Up Wrong Tree

Is the MSM biased? Does it report “fake news” as alleged by President Trump and others? James O’Keefe and Project Veritas have made it their missions to prove the answer to those questions is a resounding “yes!”. Unfortunately, O’Keefe appears to have fallen victim to some of the same tactics he claims the MSM embraces and it has resulted in a war with the Washington Post. The question this raises is simple: has this harmed the cause of returning to a fair and unbiased media.

James O’Keefe / Getty

The facts of the case are fairly simple. Jaime T. Phillips approached the WaPo, claiming to have shared a sexual relationship with Judge Roy Moore, Senate candidate from Alabama. According to Phillips, this resulted in her having an abortion at 15. For two weeks she met with reporters. According to reports, “she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public.” Everything began to fall apart when reporters for WaPo saw Phillips entering the office of Project Veritas, which James O’Keefe heads. At that point, all sorts of red flags went up and they started doing what they were supposed to—they began verifying not only what Phillips said but looking into who she was.

Among the information uncovered by the reporters was the following:

  • * Phillips claimed she had lived in Alabama for only one summer. Yet the cellphone number she gave the reporters had an Alabama area code.
  • * The place she said she worked, when called by reporters, said she was not employed there.
  • * The most damning of all was this, posted to a GoFundMe page. “I’m moving to New York!” the May 29 appeal said. “I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement. I was laid off from my mortgage job a few months ago and came across the opportunity to change my career path.”

That was enough for the WaPo reporters to start putting two plus two together, especially when they recalled an ad they’d seen from the Veritas Project seeking undercover reporters. Is it any surprise they started wondering if Phillips might not have been one of those new reporters?

O’Keefe pressed on. After the WaPo published its article detailing the attempt to get them to not only buy into the false allegations against Judge Moore but to publish them, O’Keefe posted an edited version of an encounter he had with WaPo reporters. This version, which lasted approximately half the running time of the actual “interview,” is edited in such a way to make O’Keefe look in charge of what went on. It was ego first, misdirection to another “investigation” into the WaPo second and truth, or at least the perception of it, third. That’s a problem.

WaPo, of course, instantly jumped onto what he’d done, as did a number of other MSM and liberal outlets. As a result, the more than four minute encounter has become the rallying point for the MSM and its supporters against not only O’Keefe and Veritas but against anyone wanting accountability in reporting.

It gets better—or worse—depending on your point of view. Instead of turning what happened into a positive, congratulating the WaPo on doing its job this time, O’Keefe let himself be pulled into a game where he now looks to be engaging in the same sort of behavior he condemns in the media. The tweet followed by the video are bad enough. Worse is how he is now trying to turn this into a fundraiser. Is it any wonder some are asking if he put Phillips up to the charade in an attempt to raise money? More to the point, is it any wonder people are now wondering if he really believes in what he’s been preaching for so long: journalistic integrity? After all, they say, how can you allege you support it if you refuse to acknowledge it when it slaps you in the face?

And believe me, that was some slap.

In many ways, this situation reminds me of the group of private citizens that tried to entrap child predators. Their cause was just. Their methods, however, sometimes proved to be problematic. Too often, they didn’t work with the local authorities. Evidence they collected wasn’t always admissible in court. Four or five years ago, they were always in the news with reports of arrests their efforts help lead to. Time Magazine ran a story on how to catch a predator in “five easy steps.” NBC’s Dateline “Catch a Predator” series saw itself coming under scrutiny when ethically questionable methods were revealed to be used.

O’Keefe’s misfire in this case runs the risk of doing the same thing for the movement for journalistic integrity. He barked up the wrong tree and discovered at least a few journalists who did their jobs, checking sources and facts before rushing to publication. Instead of treeing bad journalists, he had the tree fall on him.

And, boy, was it a big tree.

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  • MikeyParks says:

    No, he barked up the right tree, he just didn’t get it done this time. He certainly had the right idea.

    • Amanda Green says:

      How about right tree but the wrong branch? I agree he had the right idea but it blew up in his face. Instead of then using it to his advantage, he dug in and it is biting him in the ass now.

  • GWB says:

    Instead of … congratulating the WaPo on doing its job this time

    Yeah, looks like he turned a crusade into a Crusade! He turned the means into the ends, and it’s going to bite him. Hard. Shame.

    • Amanda Green says:

      I agree. I think Veritas has done some good things in the past. My concern is those will be overshadowed by O’Keefe’s current antics. if that’s the case, it really is too bad.

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