Why Do We Keep Falling For O’Keefe’s Smear Jobs?

James O'Keefe Photo: biggovernment.com

James O'Keefe. Photo courtesy of biggovernment.com

Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery write in Mother Jones:

To the list of journalism’s greatest disgraces, let us now add James O’Keefe. O’Keefe calls himself an investigative reporter, though as far as we can tell the only group of journalists he has anything in common with are habitual fabricators like Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Janet Cooke.

But that’s not the scandal we’re talking about. The real scandal is that—even though by the time he posted a “sting” of a top NPR fundraiser, O’Keefe was notorious for creating deceptive video smear jobs (ACORN? Hello?)—the media repeated the allegations uncritically. Let’s review.

O’Keefe’s “scoop” debuted March 8 on the conservative Daily Caller. Edited down from a 2-hour conversation, the 12-minute clip purports to show NPR head fundraiser Ron Schiller wooing fake prospective donors who claimed to be part of a group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. To curry favor, Schiller slags tea partiers, calling them xenophobic and racist; he also says NPR could get by without federal funding.

Republicans in Congress were already gearing up to defund NPR, but even that timing doesn’t seem to have raised red flags with the media. The story was breathlessly repeated by such mainstream reporters as Ben Smith of Politico, Dave Weigel of Slate, James Poniewozik of Time, and many others. Did they mention that O’Keefe had doctored tapes before? Sometimes…

Read more here.

35 Comments on "Why Do We Keep Falling For O’Keefe’s Smear Jobs?"

  1. Anonymous | Apr 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm |

    Is it because we are all very stupid?

  2. Broken_Finger | Apr 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm |

    Is it because we are all very stupid?

  3. Lancecordill | Apr 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm |

    What’s wrong with a professional journalist exposing a liberal for who they are using unorthodox tactics? Considering mainstream journalists now just choose to hang out and wait for a press conferance to get their scoop, I think O’Keefe is pretty snappy a tomato!

  4. Lancecordill | Apr 12, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    What’s wrong with a professional journalist exposing a liberal for who they are using unorthodox tactics? Considering mainstream journalists now just choose to hang out and wait for a press conferance to get their scoop, I think O’Keefe is pretty snappy a tomato!

    • Hadrian999 | Apr 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

      it isn’t journalism when you play an active role in creating the event you are reporting on

      • @Hadrian999 Hunter S Thompson would disagree and call it gonzo journalism.

        What makes this so clearly not journalism is the blatant misrepresentations in O’Keefes tapes. Also, I agree with TheWrongStuff: if anyone sees this guy on the street I say punch him in the face. Repeatedly.

        • Hadrian999 | Apr 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm |

          thompson was entertaining but nothing he did can responsibly be called journalism because he made his personality part of the work,everything he did is suspect for much the same reason that coverage of the tea party movement by political media is suspect, when you have a dog in the show you cant be impartial.

    • It’s not so much the misrepresentation that makes O’Keefe more of a hit man than a journalist–Ian Murphy did the same thing to Scott Walker, and I assume you had no problem with that–it’s the editing of the videos to make liberals look like who they aren’t.

      • FrankRizzo | Apr 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

        ACORN was willing to give tax advice to a pimp. The editing was not so blotched and hacked as to provide any reasonable doubt as to ACORNs motives. Any organization willing to assist in human trafficking just to meet its goals needs to be exposed and destroyed.

        Complaining about how O’keefe finds problems is like bitching about how a body was discovered. All minor offenses aside, shouldn’t you be concerned about the bigger picture?

        • I think it provided reasonable doubt. The ACORN workers in the videos I saw didn’t really take him seriously, and most weren’t willing to give him advice at all so he didn’t use those videos at all. To portray ACORN as a whole as willing to assist human trafficking is a Faulty Generalization fallacy at best.

          • Exactly…it took him try after try before he found one person who at least ignored the costumes and treated him like nothing fishy was going on. Finding one idiot who shuffles papers in an organization with thousands of people in it is actually a statistical certainty. Add a little re-editing afterwards …and walla! one perfect story for FOX in the bag.

        • Amadandedallas | Apr 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm |

          It was heavily edited. O’Keefe never presented himself to ACORN as a pimp. He presented himself as a poor college student. It’s been twenty years since I’ve been a student, but I doubt standards have fallen so hard that you can’t tell the difference.

          In other words, yaeh, you fell for it.

        • Hey dummy, O’Keefe did NOT present himself to Acorn dressed as a pimp. As a matter of fact, raw footage of his covert interview with an Acorn rep shows O’Keefe dressed quite conservatively. The rep was denying the questions about how to set up a prostitution ring and is on record as having reported O’Keefe to her supervisor (manager, whatever) because she thought it was a very unusual and inappropriate meeting. So yeah, the so called sting video by O’Keefe is in fact a highly edited piece of horse sh-t end of story.

  5. Bud Bundy | Apr 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm |

    Whoa now, who said I fell for anything?

  6. Bud Bundy | Apr 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm |

    Whoa now, who said I fell for anything?

  7. Hadrian999 | Apr 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm |

    it isn’t journalism when you play an active role in creating the event you are reporting on

  8. It’s not so much the misrepresentation that makes O’Keefe more of a hit man than a journalist–Ian Murphy did the same thing to Scott Walker, and I assume you had no problem with that–it’s the editing of the videos to make liberals look like who they aren’t.

  9. FrankRizzo | Apr 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm |

    ACORN was willing to give tax advice to a pimp. The editing was not so blotched and hacked as to provide any reasonable doubt as to ACORNs motives. Any organization willing to assist in human trafficking just to meet its goals needs to be exposed and destroyed.

    Complaining about how O’keefe finds problems is like bitching about how a body was discovered. All minor offenses aside, shouldn’t you be concerned about the bigger picture?

  10. TheWrongStuff | Apr 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    I’d like to interject a somewhat differing opinion by bringing to attention the mournful loss of the fine art of kicking the shit out of little punks who bring it upon themselves. This crap would have never gone unpunished in my grandfather’s day and I say it’s high time we as American’s live up to the Chinese ideas of civil liberties…like how I did that…and start shooting assholes in the fucking face.

    Perhaps also changing the channel or researching blatant bullshit by multiple times convicted shills could also be an option? I wasn’t really paying attention to the question.

  11. TheWrongStuff | Apr 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    I’d like to interject a somewhat differing opinion by bringing to attention the mournful loss of the fine art of kicking the shit out of little punks who bring it upon themselves. This crap would have never gone unpunished in my grandfather’s day and I say it’s high time we as American’s live up to the Chinese ideas of civil liberties…like how I did that…and start shooting assholes in the fucking face.

    Perhaps also changing the channel or researching blatant bullshit by multiple times convicted shills could also be an option? I wasn’t really paying attention to the question.

  12. I think it provided reasonable doubt. The ACORN workers in the videos I saw didn’t really take him seriously, and most weren’t willing to give him advice at all so he didn’t use those videos at all. To portray ACORN as a whole as willing to assist human trafficking is a Faulty Generalization fallacy at best.

  13. Amadandedallas | Apr 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm |

    It was heavily edited. O’Keefe never presented himself to ACORN as a pimp. He presented himself as a poor college student. It’s been twenty years since I’ve been a student, but I doubt standards have fallen so hard that you can’t tell the difference.

    In other words, yaeh, you fell for it.

  14. Exactly…it took him try after try before he found one person who at least ignored the costumes and treated him like nothing fishy was going on. Finding one idiot who shuffles papers in an organization with thousands of people in it is actually a statistical certainty. Add a little re-editing afterwards …and walla! one perfect story for FOX in the bag.

  15. I object to the word “we” in the header. “We” didn’t fall for Breitbart or O’Keefe or Limbaugh, or birthers, or Hannity or Beck. In point of fact…outsiders and small press media pretty much led the charge to refute every claim from these losers. “We” have been on the ball.

    Unfortunately, mass media, owned by a tiny handful of conglomerates and primarily concerned with ratings and market share, has lent credence to these losers and frauds at every turn. “We” probably shouldn’t be included in the crowd of flutterheads and dingbats that bought into painfully obvious lies and deceptions from minute one.

  16. I object to the word “we” in the header. “We” didn’t fall for Breitbart or O’Keefe or Limbaugh, or birthers, or Hannity or Beck. In point of fact…outsiders and small press media pretty much led the charge to refute every claim from these losers. “We” have been on the ball.

    Unfortunately, mass media, owned by a tiny handful of conglomerates and primarily concerned with ratings and market share, has lent credence to these losers and frauds at every turn. “We” probably shouldn’t be included in the crowd of flutterheads and dingbats that bought into painfully obvious lies and deceptions from minute one.

  17. I object to the word “we” in the header. “We” didn’t fall for Breitbart or O’Keefe or Limbaugh, or birthers, or Hannity or Beck. In point of fact…outsiders and small press media pretty much led the charge to refute every claim from these losers. “We” have been on the ball.

    Unfortunately, mass media, owned by a tiny handful of conglomerates and primarily concerned with ratings and market share, has lent credence to these losers and frauds at every turn. “We” probably shouldn’t be included in the crowd of flutterheads and dingbats that bought into painfully obvious lies and deceptions from minute one.

  18. Anonymous | Apr 13, 2011 at 1:41 am |

    @Hadrian999 Hunter S Thompson would disagree and call it gonzo journalism.

    What makes this so clearly not journalism is the blatant misrepresentations in O’Keefes tapes. Also, I agree with TheWrongStuff: if anyone sees this guy on the street I say punch him in the face. Repeatedly.

  19. Hadrian999 | Apr 13, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    thompson was entertaining but nothing he did can responsibly be called journalism because he made his personality part of the work,everything he did is suspect for much the same reason that coverage of the tea party movement by political media is suspect, when you have a dog in the show you cant be impartial.

  20. Hey dummy, O’Keefe did NOT present himself to Acorn dressed as a pimp. As a matter of fact, raw footage of his covert interview with an Acorn rep shows O’Keefe dressed quite conservatively. The rep was denying the questions about how to set up a prostitution ring and is on record as having reported O’Keefe to her supervisor (manager, whatever) because she thought it was a very unusual and inappropriate meeting. So yeah, the so called sting video by O’Keefe is in fact a highly edited piece of horse sh-t end of story.

  21. James O’Keefe appeals to our (and by that I mean people in the United States) Innate Racist Redneck Randroid, and by that he gives us what we have been taught to believe about those who oppose the right of the rich to rule and profit over us. We want to believe this, and the newsgivers know this; so this guy gets passes for his fakery and kudos for telling us what we can’t but respond to.

    And no, I never believed the horseshit even when everyone else I knew (Mensans are like Rednecks, only with the ability to justify their Innate Racist Redneck Randroid beliefs) sang them to the Choir all around me.

  22. James O’Keefe appeals to our (and by that I mean people in the United States) Innate Racist Redneck Randroid, and by that he gives us what we have been taught to believe about those who oppose the right of the rich to rule and profit over us. We want to believe this, and the newsgivers know this; so this guy gets passes for his fakery and kudos for telling us what we can’t but respond to.

    And no, I never believed the horseshit even when everyone else I knew (Mensans are like Rednecks, only with the ability to justify their Innate Racist Redneck Randroid beliefs) sang them to the Choir all around me.

  23. Tuna Ghost | Apr 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm |

    What do you mean “we”, kemosabe

  24. Tuna Ghost | Apr 14, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    What do you mean “we”, kemosabe

  25. FuckyouAndy | Apr 17, 2011 at 2:35 am |

    Andy are you still pretending to be a lawyer?>

  26. Hey numb nuts drop the vernacular.Quit pretending to be lawyer, if you were one you be busy. Your not a lawyer (or least a real one with a career), your an asshole like me trolling the internet. Or is that a fallacy of Faulty generalization?.. I’m sure you’ll google logic arguments for some snappy bullshit response missing my point.

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