From Hoft's January 26 Gateway Pundit blog post:
The Obama supporting ACORN organization was caught in several lies last year when James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released tapes exposing ACORN employees promoting child prostitution of illegal aliens.
O'Keefe has not been convicted of any crimes but was arrested yesterday in New Orleans with three other associates after visiting Senator Mary Landrieu's office.
Andrew Breitbart discussed the arrest today with Hugh Hewitt.
UPDATE: James O'Keefe tweeted this a couple of hours ago:
Let's hope so.
On March 1 of last year, Washington Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander began his weekly column in the Post stating that "Opinion columnists are free to choose whatever facts bolster their arguments. But they aren't free to distort them." He was absolutely right.
It is unfortunate that Alexander cannot hold opinion columnists accountable when they do distort the facts. He told me as much on the phone yesterday.
Let me back up.
Alexander made his comment that opinion columnists "aren't free to distort facts" response to widespread criticism from Media Matters and others of the Post for allowing George Will to suggest that data from an Arctic research group undermined the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused global warming -- a claim that the group itself debunked. Alexander acknowledged that "readers would have been better served if Post editors, and the new ombudsman, had more quickly addressed the claims of falsehoods."
In the time since Alexander's response, Will has on four additional occasions misled Post readers about the scientific basis for the existence of global warming -- most recently this past Saturday when he wrote that the "menace of global warming" is "elusive" and claimed that an acknowledged error about Himalayan glaciers in a report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) constituted "another dollop of evidence of the seepage of dubious science into policy debate." But scientists have routinely presented strong evidence of long-term global warming and its consequences, including evidence of "widespread mass loss from glaciers." Just this month, major meteorological organizations throughout the world -- including NASA -- released reports showing that the past decade, 2000-2009, was the warmest on record.
Alexander assured readers in March that Will's column undergoes "fact-checking at multiple levels." Based on the number of errors since, that system clearly is not working.
I decided to raise the issue with Alexander. Either the Post needed to guarantee a more rigorous fact-checking of Will's column or the columnist should no longer be allowed to opine on climate change. His track record of global warming falsehoods have damaged the public debate on this important issue for far too long.
Considering his March 1 column, I believed this issue would be well within the purview of the paper's ombudsman. But, according to my phone conversation with Alexander yesterday morning, that is simply not the case. He informed me he is the "reader representative for news coverage," pointing out that this was reflected on page 2 of the Post's print edition which states, "Ombudsman (reader representative for news coverage)."
Some readers mistakenly think that the ombudsman can force change on The Post, its editorial policy or what columnists write. My job is not to tell the editorial board what to write, and I wouldn't presume to tell David S. Broder what to say about politics. Columnists own their space. If they make a mistake, let me know, but the opinions are theirs alone.
So, let me get this straight. If a reader finds a "mistake" in an opinion column, they can alert the ombudsman. The ombudsman just can't do anything about it. Perhaps that explains why, with the exception of Alexander's March 1 column, George Will's multiple errors on the topic of climate change have gone unaddressed.
A newspaper's editorial page is clearly different from its news pages and Howell is correct: It is not the job of the ombudsman to dictate columnist's opinions. But Alexander was also correct when he wrote that columnists should not be free to distort the facts in order to support those opinions. After all, errors in opinion columns are just as much a reflection on a newspaper's journalistic integrity as errors in news articles.
If the Post's policy dictates that the Ombudsman serves as the "reader representative" for pages A1-A13, then who is looking out for us on pages 14-15? Considering Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt in the past has refused to respond to inquires or run corrections to Will's errors, the answer is no one.
TPM's Justin Elliott reports:
Three of the four young men charged in the alleged bugging attempt at Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office Monday were involved in the well-funded, opportunity-rich world of conservative campus journalism in recent years, a link that provides potential clues about how the men knew each other and why they came to hatch the alleged plot.
James O'Keefe, Joseph Basel, and Stan Dai each founded or lead the alternative conservative newspapers on their respective college campuses.
After graduating, O'Keefe, the filmmaker behind the ACORN stings, actually worked for a year as a recruiter for the Leadership Institute, one of a handful of conservative organizations that provide seed money to students who want to launch alternative newspapers.
Our first case is Stan Dai, who served as the editor-in-chief of the GW Patriot at George Washington University. Dai was also a Club 100 Activist of Young America's Foundation, and an Undergraduate Fellow on Terrorism of the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies, according to a scholarship citation at the conservative Philips Foundation (h/t Lindsay Beyerstein).
Both O'Keefe and Basel seem to have gotten their start in the conservative college press with a little bit of help from the Leadership Institute, the group that aims to recruit and train conservative activists.
In an interview with the two men posted Jan. 14 on the Leadership Institute's CampusReform.org, it's noted that O'Keefe founded The Centurion at Rutgers and Basel launched The Counterweight at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Both "were started with assistance from the Leadership Institute's 'Balance in Media' grant."
Leadership Institute Vice President David Fenner confirmed to TPMmuckraker that O'Keefe received $500 from the Leadership Institute to start the Centurion, but couldn't confirm any details of Basel or Dai's possible Leadership Institute backing.
It is possible, however, that O'Keefe met Dai or Basel through his work with the Leadership Institute.
For about a year around 2007, O'Keefe was an employee of the Leadership Institute, Fenner confirmed. His job was to visit college campuses to recruit and train conservative activists who might want to start publications on their own campuses.
"I have no idea if [O'Keefe] met [Basel] through the training," Fenner said. "There's obviously a high likelihood. Only Basel could tell us that."
Read Elliott's entire piece here.
After ACORN filed a lawsuit against conservative activists Hannah Giles, James O'Keefe, and Breitbart.com LLC, Sean Hannity, Andrew Breitbart, HotAir.com's Allahpundit, and NewsBusters offered to -- in the words of Hannity -- "put out the word" to "help" Giles and O'Keefe raise money for their legal defense. Conservative media figures -- led by Glenn Beck -- helped Breitbart strategically release and aggressively promote the undercover videos that sparked ACORN's lawsuit.
Suit filed after alleged "illegal videotaping" seeks "injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape. From a September 23 Washington Post "44" blog post:
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and Breitbart.com LLC for what it alleged was "illegal videotaping" of ACORN employees in Baltimore.
The group filed its suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and is seeking "a preliminary and permanent injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape made by O'Keefe and Giles that aired on BigGovernment.com, a Web project of Andrew Breitbart's Breitbart.com company, along with compensatory and punitive damages. [WashingtonPost.com, 9/23/09]
Hannity: "Hannah, if you get in trouble ... we can help you. We'll put out the word." After interviewing Giles and her attorney about the lawsuit, Sean Hannity stated, "Well, listen, Hannah, if you get in trouble and you need the lawyer, I'll tell you what, we can help you. We'll put out the word. I'm sure there's a lot of people that may want to help you with a legal defense fund. And if you get to that point, let us know, and we'll be glad to bring you back on." [Hannity, 9/24/09]
Breitbart on O'Reilly: "We will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund." After Bill O'Reilly asked, "[D]o you have lawyers helping you with it because, you know, this is expensive," Breitbart stated, "We're -- we're working on that right now. And I want everybody to know that we will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund at BigGovernment.com. The amount of -- the responses so far in e-mail form are overwhelming." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/24/09]
HotAir's Allahpundit: "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches." In a September 24 HotAir.com blog post titled, "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches," Allahpundit wrote that Giles' father -- conservative activist Doug Giles -- "sent out a blast e-mail about it a little while ago and I'm told the link's posted on his Facebook page, so fire away. Not that she'll need the money: The lawsuit's weak, the jury will be on her side, and apparently Hannity's set to beam this link out to America on tonight's show, which means she'll be swimming in dough come morning." Allahpundit further promised, "I'll post the info for O'Keefe's defense fund once it's available." [HotAir.com, 9/24/09]
NewsBusters: Breitbart "Reveals Defense Fund Initiative." Promoting Breitbart's O'Reilly Factor appearance, NewsBusters quoted Breitbart's promotion of the legal defense fund and included a link to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. [NewsBusters.com, 9/24/09]
Breitbart, Beck distributed secretly taped ACORN videos. O'Keefe first posted his secretly recorded video on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com in an effort to engage in -- in the words of Breitbart -- "a multimedia, multiplatform strategy" that included Fox News. Fox News, led by Glenn Beck, went on to facilitate Breitbart's "strategy" of releasing the videos."
From James O'Keefe's Twitter feed on January 26, 2010:
Although they repeatedly promoted ACORN videos made by filmmaker James O'Keefe on their shows and complained about the lack of media coverage of the videos, neither Glenn Beck nor Sean Hannity mentioned O'Keefe's arrest Monday for an alleged plot to interfere with* Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone. Fox News has reported on the story, but neither Beck nor Hannity had any comment on it.
Yesterday, ACORN videographer James O'Keefe was arrested for an alleged plot to interfere with* Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone. Andrew Breitbart, whose website BigGovernment.com published O'Keefe's ACORN videos, stated that he pays O'Keefe a "fair salary" so that "when he puts a story out there, it's on the Breitbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired." Breitbart also said that O'Keefe "was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com" when he was arrested.
From an interview by Hugh Hewitt:
HH: I love that, by the way. That is exactly what public figures should do when they are implicated, even by a complete falsehood in something like this. They should do what you're doing, which is get out there and say nope, not me, not now, not ever, never. Last question, in terms of his relationship with you not connected to this event, are you still, is he in your employ in any way?
AB: When the story came to us, what I wanted to do was to make sure that the ACORN story got as much widespread dissemination as humanly possible. The videos that he independently produced went on YouTube. And so Huffington Post, every single site put it out there, including my sites. What he does for the site exclusively is he tells his life rights, basically. So when he puts a story out there, it's on the Brietbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired. So...
HH: Do you pay him for that?
HH: And are you free to tell me how much you pay him?
AB: I'll...perhaps at another date, but he's paid a fair salary.
HH: Is he...so he is an employee?
AB: I'm not sure that's technically the thing, but yes, he's paid for his life rights. And he's, you know, he's still...we reserve the right to say yes or no to any of the stories that he puts up on our site as we do to any other contributor who comes to the site.
HH: Will it be a mischaracterization to say he was working for you when he went about this?
AB: Well, I mean, no. He was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com.
How does one respond to being arrested for an alleged plot to interfere with the phones* at a senator's office?
First, after James O'Keefe and his alleged accomplices were released from jail, O'Keefe was asked for comment by the press while waiting for a cab. His response was reportedly a single word: "Veritas."
Veritas is, of course, Latin for truth.
Now one of the alleged accomplices, Joseph Basel, has apparently taken to Twitter with the following post:
It looks like they have their talking points together.
From the Fox Nation (accessed on January 26):
Earlier this evening, Media Matters' Eric Hananoki brought you some details on James O'Keefe's three alleged accomplices. TPM's Justin Elliott has a bit more. Reporting on their apparent connection to the Pelican Institute, he writes:
There's a lot we still don't know about the four men implicated in the alleged attempt to bug Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones yesterday, but a little-known organization called the Pelican Institute appears to be key to the story.
Located at 400 Poydras St. in downtown New Orleans -- half a block from Landrieu's office at 500 Poydras St. -- Pelican describes itself as a state policy think tank dedicated to advancing "sound policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government."
James O'Keefe, the conservative filmmaker behind the ACORN stings who has been charged in the Landrieu case, was scheduled to give a talk at Pelican last Thursday on "Exposing Truth: Undercover Video, New Media and Creativity." Tickets were $35; the setting was the posh Plimsoll Club at the World Trade Center. An ad for the luncheon promised attendees insights into O'Keefe's special strain of new media genius:
Another of the charged men, Robert Flanagan, works for Pelican, his attorney told the Times-Picayune. Flanagan allegedly dressed up as a telephone repairman to infiltrate Landrieu's office.
The Wall Street Journal opinion page published a glowing profile of Pelican and its leader, Kevin Kane, in August 2008.
In yet another possible connection to the Landrieu case, Kane also blogs at Big Government, the Andrew Breitbart site.
Big Government is where O'Keefe's ACORN sting videos were posted, though Breitbart has said, "We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O'Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu's office."