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Gotcha journalism gets punk'd

O'Keefe 165 Professional journalists like me have failings aplenty, as the quotidian recitations of corrections and clarifications demonstrate. (None by me so far today!) So perhaps I should leave it to someone else to take potshots at new media bad boy James O'Keefe, the gotcha journalist who brought down ACORN.

Still, I have to say that his latest effort to capture bad behavior with hidden cameras was beyond brain-dead.

According to CNN, O'Keefe -- who evidently gets his romantic advice from Smoove B. -- tried to lure the network's Abbie Boudreau onto a boat laden with sex toys to "seduce" her on camera. Given the setting, "sexually harass" would be a more accurate description. The plot was sabotaged by the executive director of O'Keefe's Project Veritas, Izzy Santa, who intercepted Boudreau as she made her way to the meeting and told her what O'Keefe was planning.

CNN later obtained a plan for the scheme apparently written by Ben Wetmore, who'd worked with O'Keefe on a botched attempted sting at Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in New Orleans. Showing himself to be a true team player, O'Keefe told CNN this about Wetmore's document: "That is not my work product. When it was sent to me, I immediately found certain elements highly objectionable and inappropriate, and did not consider them for one minute following it." Nice knowing ya, Ben!

According to CNN, O'Keefe also relieved Santa of all her duties at Project Veritas, although she's still on the payroll.

It's worth reading the excerpts from the plan that CNN posted, if only for the larger context in which the Boudreau "caper" apparently fit. The group's apparent goal was "to create an operation that could spoof CNN, hurt their [sic] credibility and show the 'big lie' that they operate under, showing the truth that is unknown to the general public." The document continues:

Potential 'big lies' as it regards CNN:
1. Their general bias against conservatives
2. Their own internal racism against whites
3. Their potential internal racism against minorities
4. Shoddy journalism, and low journalistic standards

The plan called for planting a fake story with CNN by providing "false video evidence," "false textual evidence and documents," and/or "false interviews."

What's mystifying to me is why anyone would feel compelled to concoct fake news to undermine CNN. The new media environment that's given O'Keefe's crew a platform to compete with CNN is, in and of itself, the best protection against the "big lie" that his group sees in CNN's work. The company makes it easier than ever to measure the quality of its journalism -- it's all there for people to fact-check and compare against the many, many other sources of news and opinion that compete with the cable network.

CNN's record speaks for itself. If there's a "big lie" to be proved, CNN provides all the footage necessary to do so.

Photo: James O'Keefe. Credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

-- Jon Healey


Comments () | Archives (33)

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Acorn was run by volunteers, to get a part time volunteer to say something, trying to be helpful, probably wasn't that hard to do.

They should be ashamed, but they undoubtably aren't.

They might try doing a story on Fox News general bias against everyone except conservatives, the more extreme the better.

Of course their crime isn't in being biased, everything humans do has some bias, their crime is saying "Fair and balanced" while doing it.

Seann King

I can't believe you got tricked
into going
onto a boat

with a known pimp



This guy is truly an idiot. Is he still living at home with his parents--as the judge in the Landrieu case ordered? Maybe they could ground him.

Mojo Potatoes

Jim, you sir are so spot on! Fox News is sooooooooooo biased, its a joke. They can't truthfully call themselves a "news" network, since everything they spout has an angle to it, a skewed interpretation to fit their biased spiel.


What's mystifying to me is why anyone would feel compelled to use the term "journalist" in reference to this weenie.


This most recent caper actually makes me wonder if O'Keefe is mentally ill. He actually believed luring a female CNN reporter onto a boat full of sex toys would make CNN look bad while making his little operation look like a paragon of journalistic ethics? Even his own people jumped ship when they saw what he was about to do. Maybe the guy needs help.

P J Evans

The four 'big lies' they claim against CNN are more accurately descriptive of O'Keefe and his buddies in 'gotcha journalism', although *their* bias is not against whites, but against minorities, women, and anyone to the left of the Republican Party.


Brietbart & O'Keefe alleged sex tape to be released shortly! That ought to be interesting!!!

David Ehrenstein

A sex tape? Breitbart doing it with O'Keefe? Oh YUCK!


O'Keefe throws Wetmore under the bus right next to Obama's grandmother.


O'Keefe has explicitly stated his goal is to expose the so-called mainstream media's bias against conservatives and those of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion. But he is a lazy ideologue who resorts to inventing situations in order to "prove" this bias. There is no "veritas" behind his efforts, and I object strongly to his being called a journalist.


When can we start ignoring this yahoo? Hopefully soon.


Aren't Koch Industries and Murdoch funding this kid? Why use the word 'journalist' in an article about this destructive political operative?


I just want to add my voice to those questioning your reference to Mr. O'Keefe as a "journalist". James O'Keefe is to journalism as Fox News is to news.

I think the word you were looking for is "propagandist".


Izzy Santa! She may lose her job, but she has kept her soul. God bless her.


I never understood why this hack was never sent to prison for conspiracy! He was the one who broached the idea of bringing child prostitutes to the U.S. and asked ACORN for help. Imagine if he wanted help to shot the president. Time to play with the big boys.


O'Keefe isn't a journalist. He's a scumbag hack political operative. Period.


This is an example of someone abusing their first amendment rights.


What I don't understand is why Boudreau would even meet with him. I understand that she may have been doing work on the "young republicans" angle but ... O'Keefe? He's a flaming fourteen-year-old with Breitbart backing. That's a recipe for disaster. Best to just ignore him.


He's not a journalist, but a political activist operating under the guise of journalist.


He's a scumbag.


I thought what he did with ACORN was great! But this sounds...weird.


@Seann King

You obviously can't read.

michael g

The Dems and Obama robots are still steaming that this kid exposed their fraudulent vote getting apparatus od ACORN on live video. But, other than embarrassing ACORN and its parent, the Obama Administration, nothing happened-- the Obama controlled D.O.J. failed to launch a much-needed investigation of ACORN. But, they somehow found the abundant resources to sue both the State of Arizona and Sheriff Joe over standing up to illegal immigration. The hypocracy and malfeasance of the Left/Democratic Party never ceases to amaze the American public...


Why is this sleazy attempted rapist not in jail? Good for Ms. Santa. She has more integrity in her tiny fingernail than scumbag O'Keefe could ever dream of having.


And what woman wouldn't want to just leap into bed with this little psychopath?

In the blue collar neighborhood in which I grew up, guys like these O'Keefe would have had his legs broken for trying a stunt like this on some man's daughter or sister.


James O'Keefe is not a journalist. He is a media cockroach running through our landscape the same as Andrew Breitbart. Please, actual journalists, stop referring to to this smear-oriented muckraker as a journalist.


This lad would have proudly worn a brown shirt and and grown a mustache had he lived in Germany circa 1930's.


O'Keefe's an adult with a little kid's head.


hey okeefe
why don't you go after the liars in your party?
ken mehlman, david vitter, ken christie etc...
they would trust you and make easier targets


Conservative I am, and I fully rejoiced the destruction of ACORN. But this conspiracy is straight from Animal House VIII - it's so sophomoric, these guys plunning to seduce a woman with some sex toys sound like some virginal dorks, spitting and talking how ladies are made, and how they like it most. Do they believe that an erect penis has a retractile bone inside? Looks like O'Keefe does so -


I think the little brat's 15 minutes of fame are finally about to come to a close. What an idiot!!!

USC Journalism Student

Read this story about the terrible environment at the LA Times and Sam Zell media companies




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