July 27, 2011

A big NYT Magazine article about James O'Keefe — written by Zev Chafets.

Zev Chafets is that NYT contributor who wrote that book about Rush Limbaugh that Limbaugh was so pleased with. So let's read the new article.
He seems to be styling himself as the organizer and commander in chief of a vast guerrilla army of young conservatives trained in his methods and inspired by his example. “There are already dozens of teams out there working,” he told me. “And there are thousands more who want to learn and get involved. The more they restrict me, the more they inspire me.”....
O'Keefe — on probation for 3 years after he pleaded guilty to entering federal property under false pretenses —  can't leave New Jersey without court approval. (Hey, don't plead guilty if you can't do the time.)
His takedown of Acorn was... devastating, although Bertha Lewis, Acorn’s former chief executive, contends that the videos were dishonest. “He is demon, a liar and a cheat,” she says. “What he did was despicable. He created a fiction.” Bertha Lewis still insists that Acorn did not offer advice on how to break the law. Clark Hoyt, a former public editor for The New York Times, reviewed O’Keefe’s raw footage and edited tapes and concluded that “the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context.”

There is no doubt that O’Keefe disseminated only the material that supported his thesis about Acorn, but this kind of selectivity is the norm in advocacy journalism. “I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism. “Some ethicists say it is never right for a journalist to deceive for any reason, but there are wrongs in the world that will never be exposed without some kind of subterfuge.”

“People can’t control me,” O’Keefe says. “No one tells me what to investigate.” But that freedom from oversight means he has no one to offer a second opinion. Andrew Breitbart, summing it up after the fact, called the Landrieu sting a “high risk, low reward” mistake. O’Keefe himself acknowledges that he used bad judgment in that operation. “If I had it to do over again, I’d do it outside a federal building.”
Hundreds of people contact James O’Keefe with suggestions for investigations and stings. He looks for situations that illustrate what he sees as larger injustices. He also recruits activists. “It takes a lot of what you could call courage to go into the opposition’s presence and tell a story under a false name,” he says. “People ready to improvise and maybe get caught.”

64 comments:

edutcher said...

"When his mug shot ran in the papers", "O’Keefe and three confederates"?

Not prejudicial at all, is it?

Henry said...

From the article: But no matter what [O'Keefe's sting] exposed, I doubted it would be more frightening than the fact that two young guys, one in a kilt, the other equipped with a video camera, can film the Statue of Liberty, the New Jersey docks and a major international airport without attracting any attention.

Is "frightening" the word Chafets really wants to use? There's a lot of implications there about his own thinking.

Sixty Grit said...

Is "disseminated" the theme of the day? Sounds dirty.

chuck said...

Love the comments at the times :O To paraphrase Aristotle, pleasure is the validation of one's stereotypes.

garage mahal said...

.O'Keefe — on probation for 3 years after he pleaded guilty to entering federal property under false pretenses — can't leave New Jersey without court approval

Pulitzer!

AJ Lynch said...

A muckraker revival would force the talking heads to ditch the canned press releases they read as news today.

Rialby said...

Garage - I guess you're only for giving Pulitzers to men who lie and obfuscate about the extent of mass extermination brought about philosophies of the Left?

Ann Althouse said...

"Love the comments at the times :O To paraphrase Aristotle, pleasure is the validation of one's stereotypes."

Ha. Yeah, I love this one:

"For example, O'Keefe didn't actually go into ACORN dressed as a pimp. The New York Times knows this -- they've issued a correction in the past. Yet here is Rush Limbaugh stenographer Zev Chafets again repeating that O'Keefe dressed like a pimp and went into an ACORN office. The facts are, as the Times knows, the videos were selectively edited to make it seem like he did."

But if you search the article, you'll see that Chafets didn't say he "dressed as a pimp." He says he "posed as a pimp."

Original Mike said...

"“I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism."

And there, my friends, is all you need to know about journalism schools.

Henry said...

And there, my friends, is all you need to know about journalism schools.

Seems fair to me.

bagoh20 said...

"“I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism.“

Lies = Truth, because journalism is about being balanced.

Henry said...

@Original Mike / bagoh20 -- Just think of the shit Dean Mills is going to get from his colleagues on the left for that comparison.

bagoh20 said...

O'Keef's editing distilled the truth, Moore's reverses it.

They both go in with an agenda, but one finds what he's looking for and the other makes it himself.

Fred4Pres said...

Getting called a "demon" by ACORN's chief makes it all worth while.

James O'Keefe is a bit of a loose cannon. But if he is the right's Michael Moore, I look forward to him messing with the heads of those on the left.

AJ Lynch said...

I know Moore could beat O'Keefe in a playground seesaw contest.

X said...

which other journalist has saved the taxpayers billions of dollars?

Chuck66 said...

The main difference between OKeefe and Michael Moore is that to the best of my knowledge, O'Keefe doesn't fabricate his stories. Moore is known to set up a story (such as the Michigan bank gun giveaway...it didn't really happen, he arranged that with the bank for the cameras) or edit so heavily that it no longer represents the truth (ambushing congressmen about their vote to send other peoples offsprings to war in Iraq, but editing out the part about the congressmen's relatives serving in Iraq)

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Phil 3:14 said...

A decent piece. Why is it crusaders are often "difficult" people?

An interesting comparison to Moore. Moore's politics aside (and that's very difficult to set aside) you see a guy without humility nor introspection. Does O'Keeffe have the same "issues"?

Chuck66 said...

Fred4, agree. Really I am not a big O'Keefe fan. Catching someone on film is one thing, but trying to set someone up is a little different.

But if he is a rightwing version of Moore, then it is only bringing balance to the universe.

Rick T. said...

The irony of this article and related comments over there in the paper which published the Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks, both obtained by criminal means, is apparently lost on them.

Alex said...

Rush Limbaugh should be investigated by the ICJ in connection with the Oslo massacre. No doubt Breivik got his marching orders straight from Rush!

Curious George said...

All that ACORN and NPR Goodness plus he can DANCE!

Curious George said...

How effective was James O'Keefe. Let's ask ACORN

Kirby Olson said...

I loved the link. I don't understand precisely what kind of conservative O'Keefe is, or where he stands politically. Is he with Palin, or more with the economic conservatives?

Still, it was a very good and insightful article, the kind of thing that I didn't think ever showed up in the NYT.

Liberty State Park is a strange place -- it's huge, but more or less uninhabited. It has a dock for the ferry that will take you out to Liberty and Ellis Island, or over to Battery Park (ferries cost about 18 dollars).

All around it is a messy area that's part marshy wasteland, and partially slightly built-up industry and old greasy spoons that cater to Japanese tourists (we accept busses, for instance, is a sign that you see quite often).

traditionalguy said...

Three questions we are seeing again today:

Do journalists owe loyal obedience to the Leader of the State?

Should they all have to take loyalty oaths or be fired?

Is trying to bring down the government a serious business that deserves detention.

It sounds like we are finding ourselves back in Pre-war Germany with O'Keefe playing Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Mark said...

I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,

Now you're getting nasty.

MikeR said...

If you could get O'Keefe to do any sting you wanted...

I'd like to place some people working in Democratic headquarters before elections in big cities. Is false registration, double-voting, election fraud rampant?

Michael said...

Garage: The Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Walter Duranty of the New York Times. Like most leftists then and today he was an apologist for Stalin. I presume you do not condemn Stalin but your writings here suggest you might approve of his methods, or at least some of them.

As you well know (you do know, don't you?) there is no Pulitzer for film.

garage mahal said...

Michael-

Some righties calling for a Pulitzer for O'Keefe:

Breitbart: O'Keefe "is already well on his way to being one of the great journalists" and deserves a Pulitzer

Hannity: O'Keefe is a "pioneer in journalism."

O'Reilly: "Frank and Conyers should be giving Ms. Giles and Mr. O'Keefe congressional medals."

Examiner.com's Dupray: "Looks like a Pulitzer might be in order."

So, can I say rightists are apologists to criminals? To this day I've seen nothing to contradict that with regards to O'Keefe.

Peter said...

"“I put James O’Keefe in the same category as Michael Moore,” says Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri’s school of journalism.“

To be fair to Michael Moore, he does not claim to be a journalist and surely does not claim to be either fair or accurate.

He's certainly never claimed that anything in his pictures accurately depicts reality.

He claims to be an entertainer. And, presumably entertaining agit-prop is more effective than boring agit-prop.

But James O’Keefe implicitly claims that what he's showing does have some claim to represent reality. At least, I never heard him say, "This is just for fun!"

And so, they surely do not belong in the same category.

Rialby said...

"To be fair to Michael Moore, he does not claim to be a journalist and surely does not claim to be either fair or accurate. "

I guess that's why he was feted at the DNC in 2004 and hosted by none other than James Earl Carter himself? 'Cause he's just an entertainer. That's a common cloak that leftist activists like to pull over themselves. It's not working.

AJ Lynch said...

Entertainer? OK, but I assume you have seen O'Keefe's work and would agree he is at least part entertainer too.

MikeR said...

"can I say rightists are apologists to criminals?" You can as far as I'm concerned. It is important that stories like these get exposed, and if victimless lawbreaking and deception are needed to do it, I'm 100% in favor. There is quite simply no better illustration of the value of the press than O'Keefe, who has actually effected major change with these exposes.

The reporters will have to deal with the consequences, of course. No one is giving them a Get Out of Jail Free card.

I doubt very many liberals would disagree with me, were the situation reversed.

MikeR said...

"For example, O'Keefe didn't actually go into ACORN dressed as a pimp." I was fascinated by that meme during the ACORN scandal. So many leftists spent time and effort on it, as if anyone cared. Nudniks.

(Classical Jewish definitions)
Shlemiel: Spills bowl of soup at top of stairs.
Shlemazel: At bottom of stairs.
Nudnik: Asks what kind of soup it was.

edutcher said...

garage mahal said...

Michael-

Some righties calling for a Pulitzer for O'Keefe:


Some are also calling for one for Meadhouse.

It's about recognition for work done.

The fact the Left is so intellectually and morally corrupt has nothing to do with some people wanting to see good efforts getting some kind of recognition.

Except for Gay Patriot's Grande Conservative Bloggress Diva, the Pulitzer is the only reporting (I won't say journalism) award available to Conservatives and the only one familiar to the public. To say to people, "This is a good guy, he won the Pulitzer", is to allow a job well done to be recognized on a widespread basis.

Curious George said...

"So, can I say rightists are apologists to criminals? To this day I've seen nothing to contradict that with regards to O'Keefe."

Sure as long as you can say the same for all that praised Ted Kennedy.

Curious George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curious George said...

"Peter said...
To be fair to Michael Moore, he does not claim to be a journalist and surely does not claim to be either fair or accurate.

He's certainly never claimed that anything in his pictures accurately depicts reality.

He claims to be an entertainer."

What a steaming pile. Moore not only claims to be accurate...

From his website:

"With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts..."

"Nothing but the truth is sacred in Michael Moore's hilarious screed on the state of America"

"those words have remarkably become the accepted truth of the land."

but uses his works to support policies all the time with the likes of Maddow etc. or at protests. He isn't their to talk about how entertaining he is.

Of course, to be fair, you never claimed to be accurate, or fair, or not a moron, on this blog.

Joanna said...

Kirby Olson said...
I don't understand precisely what kind of conservative O'Keefe is, or where he stands politically. Is he with Palin, or more with the economic conservatives?


I don't understand precisely what kind of question that is.

garage mahal said...

It is important that stories like these get exposed, and if victimless lawbreaking and deception are needed to do it, I'm 100% in favor.

In O'Keefe's "stings", the only people that ended breaking the law was......O'Keefe.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...

In O'Keefe's "stings", the only people that ended breaking the law was......O'Keefe."

Stings is plural. We know about the Landrieu deal...what else?

What law did he break in his sting of ACORN? NPR?

wv: taxim: Democrats plan of action for everything

SunnyJ said...

garage that is just a flat out lie. There are actions against ACORN all over this country and people are going to jail and it came about because O'Keefe put the spotlight on them.

His most recent videos on Medicaid fraud are even more outrageous, especially in view of the debt/spending debate going on. The fraud perpetrated on all of us by this gargantaun unaccountable gland, known as the government is a tick on the dog of all of us.

MikeR said...

"In O'Keefe's "stings", the only people that ended breaking the law was......O'Keefe." That wasn't the point of the stings. They weren't out to catch lawbreakers. They broke ACORN, and damaged Planned Parenthood and NPR, by catching them being two-faced. They take public money, so they have to be upstanding, fair, honest, and even-handed. And they deal with their liberals and their clients, which means that they have to be shady, duplicitous, very partisan, and ignoring crime and dishonesty. The public won't tolerate that kind of stuff, so they have to pretend they aren't doing it.

That's why leftists always respond with baffled indignation to O'Keefe's stings: "Why are you firing people who are in the videos? Tell O'Keefe to get lost!" They don't understand that these organizations are trapped, and fighting for their lives. They cannot exist if the public sees them as being that partisan and venal. Since ACORN, the other organizations learned the lesson: Express outrage right away, suggest that some small-fry must have been poorly trained, fire them, and move on.

Matt said...

The problem with the way stings are viewed is they often only expose incompetance of a particular person that in turn get applied to an entire organisation.

If someone wanted to bring down a Fortune 500 company they could easily find a few folks working for these companies who break laws or are corrupt. But it would be wrong to then conclude that the ENTIRE company is to blame and should be punished. This applies to ALL companies from the ones conservatives like to the ones liberals like.

((Head are exploded from this insight, no doubt))

Scott M said...

Sure, Matt, but when you go to multiple locations of the same "company" and do the drip-drip-drip method of disclosure, allowing the "company" to deny any wrongdoing, claim it's an isolated thing, etc, the results can show a structural or institutional fucked up way of doing things.

Matt said...

SunnyJ

I completely agree there is Medicaid fraud going on. There are a lot of crooked doctors. But this does not mean Medicaid should be scraped or all doctors should be punished. It means some system needs to be set up so that there can be less Medicaid fraud.

When O'Keefe sets out to prove there is fraud he is coming from a position that thinks Medicaid should be thrown out completely.

The problem is this kind of view punishes every single [child, elderly, low income] person who benefits from Medicaid because of a few doctors or maybe people who misuse the program. That is wrong headed.

Kirby Olson said...

@ Joanna,

There are some conservatives who care a lot about social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Others care primarily about fiscal responsibility in government.

These two wings of the Republican party do have some overlap, but if it is a Venn diagram, they also have a great many who are purely one or the other.

In attacking ACORN, it would seem that O'Keefe was concerned with the waste of government money, but he also used child prostitution as a ploy to expose a moral absence within at least one employee.

He touched nerve endings all the way down.

Even morally numb Democrats were moved to respond.

sorepaw said...

Garage,

The New York Times has refused to return the Pulitzer Prize that Walter Duranty received in 1932, for what later turned out to be completely fraudulent "reporting" on conditions in the Soviet Union.

The Times has also refused to take Duranty off the list of its past Pulitzer Prize winners, which it publishes at least once a year.

All of this despite the fact that Duranty's deceptions are now generally acknowledged, even in books that have received favorable reviews in the New York Times.

Unlike some foreign journalists who filed false reports from the Soviet Union, Duranty was not a committed Communist, nor was he unaware of what was going on. He simply wanted to retain his access to Josef Stalin.

Should the Times return this Pulitzer Prize?

C'mon, Garage, you ought to be able to give your own opinion on something, without waiting for talking points to be provided...

sorepaw said...

Garage,

Do you believe that ACORN was run and staffed by honest people and deserved to receive Federal (i.e., taxpayer) funding?

garage mahal said...

There are actions against ACORN all over this country and people are going to jail and it came about because O'Keefe put the spotlight on them.

You know the drill - linky

sorepaw said...

Although I believe his exposés have done some good, I wouldn't recommend O'Keefe for a Pulitzer.

The guy is too much of a trickster.

Garage will be terribly disappointed that his opponents don't all take marching orders from Andrew Breitbart and Sean Hannity....

J said...

False pretenses, misrepresentation, not to say veiled racism: that's how the Breitfartians such as O'Keefe work. His little stunts are approved by most teabugger Christians, including one of blogland's most embarrassing writers, Kirby Olson, and the Alt-tards. Even assuming ACORN had issues, O'Keefe's
cowardly, punk BS was not the proper remedy (and backfired actually).


[--Guten Abend, Frau A.--]

Francisco D said...

Garbage,

You are really boxing waaay above your weight class. The more people on this site relaize it, the more they will ignore your sophmoric talking points.

Michael said...

Garage. So Stalin and O'Keefe are equivalent criminals to you? I think that is what you wrote but i would like for ou to confirm that is what you mean that not condemning a kid is the same as not condemning a monster. You are fucking sick,dude. Sick in the head.

Carol_Herman said...

I thought that going into Senator Land-rover's office ... to watch them NOT answering the phone ... was priceless.

Yes, because these thieves write the laws ... going into a Federal building to get a story ... can get you arrested.

Heck, coming in second to this ... is only watching the gal from TV getting tossed out of Weiner's office!

Congress is weirder than you think!

And, it's HOME to the GREAT CON!

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