David Weigel from The Washington Independent has a more detailed response from Andrew Breitbart concerning news that James O'Keefe and three others were arrested by the FBI in an alleged plot to interfere with the phones* at Sen. Mary Landrieu's office:
"We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O'Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu's office," said Breitbart. "We only just learned about the alleged incident this afternoon. We have no information other than what has been reported publicly by the press. Accordingly, we simply are not in a position to make any further comment."
Earlier this month, James O'Keefe and one of his alleged accomplices in a plot to interfere with the phones* at Sen. Mary Landrieu's office, Joseph Basel, were interviewed by The Centurion -- a right-wing student publication at Rutgers University which, coincidently enough, claims O'Keefe as "founding editor."
Much of the interview is what you'd expect from O'Keefe, though there are a few gems worth highlighting (emphasis added):
Campus Reform: One final question. As you guys got more involved in student publications, what has been your experience with networks and professional opportunities?
O'Keefe: The more bold you are, the more opportunities will be open to you. The less bold you are, the less opportunities in life will be open to you. The less calculated risk you take in college, the more you're going to be looking for a job.
But the more you put yourself out there and you take those calculated risks--the contrary of what people actually think is going to happen--you're actually going to get opportunities. Especially with someone like Hannah [Giles], who is a college student in Florida, you know, everyone telling her 'Oh, don't dress up like a [explicit]. Don't do that, you're going to ruin your career.'
Well, now she's working for Andrew Breitbart! And she's a journalist for Breitbart doing investigative journalism for the new site BigJournalism. So, I would encourage everyone to take on the challenge in college of being as assertive as you can possibly be in going after the truth.
Correction: This post originally misattributed the source of O'Keefe's interview; O'Keefe was interviewed by Adam Weinberg for CampusReform.org.
Here is the actual headline from an actual story about an actual poll:
Newsmax/Zogby Poll: Scott Brown Could Defeat Obama in Presidential Race
Thus, we have a right-wing hotbed of inflammatory anti-Obama rhetoric -- remember the call for a military coup against Obama? -- teaming up with what poll maven Nate Silver describes as "the worst pollster in the world."
A week ago, Zogby didn't think Brown could defeat Martha Coakley. Now he's claiming Brown might be able to beat Obama?
These two deserve each other, it seems.
From Weekly Standard online editor Michael Goldfarb's Twitter feed:
As we've noted below, O'Keefe, the right-wing media darling who dressed up as a pimp and secretly recorded visits to ACORN offices (visits that may have broken the law), was arrested yesterday by FBI agents for allegedly trying to interfere with the phone of Sen. Mary Landrieu.
We'll actually wait for more facts to emerge before making judgments about O'Keefe's action or the arrest. But in terms of the bigger picture, we can't say today's news comes as a surprise. O'Keefe's right-wing mentor, Andrew Breitbart, likes to go on and on about how he's reinventing journalism with his site Big Government, which relentlessly hyped the ACORN videos, and how we're all watching the dawn of conservative, activist journalism.
The problem, of course, is that Breitbart and his crew don't do journalism. It's more like juvenile, name-calling propaganda. They have no idea how journalism works, no regard for its standards, and don't actually want to practice it. So, voilà! Today we get news that the FBI allegedly caught O'Keefe and his pals were trying to interfere with* a U.S. senator's phone.
On what planet does that qualify as journalism?
It will be interesting to see how Breitbart and his sites deal with O'Keefe's arrest. Even money says Breitbart, forever embracing the right-wing ethos of victimhood, blames the liberal media, or Media Matters, or George Soros. Or somebody. (Was the FBI in on the liberal conspiracy, Andrew?)
And what about Fox News? It paraded O'Keefe around as a hero for his ACORN work. Is Fox News going to touch this arrest story? Is Fox News going to ask any tough questions? (Stop laughing!)
The point is, it's not that big of a leap from being a star of Breitbart's anti-journalism site to being cuffed for allegedly intending to commit a felony. As we've noted before, Breitbart's crew seems to have little or no grasp of the law.
UPDATED: Will Breitbart continue "advertising" O'Keefe's defense fund?
UPDATED: This might not be the best time, but I'll ask anyway: When are Breitbart and O'Keefe going to finally release all the unedited ACORN tapes? Or are they hiding something?
UPDATED: Breitbart told the Washington Independent he didn't have enough information about O'Keefe's arrest to comment.
Um, when did not having enough information ever stop Breitbart in the past?
Andrew Breitbart, the man who first introduced the nation to James O'Keefe on his website BigGovernment, provided his initial reaction to Talking Points Memo on news that O'Keefe and three others were arrested by the FBI in an alleged "plot to wiretap" Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
"I need to find information on this. I'm out of the loop on this. I will make my determination then on when to comment," Breitbart said.
Politico's Ben Smith posted the FBI agent's affidavit in the alleged plot to interfere with the phones* at Sen. Landrieu's office by O'Keefe and three others to his Twitter account this afternoon. You can read it here (pdf).
From a January 26 Times-Picayune article:
The FBI, alleging a plot to wiretap Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in downtown New Orleans, arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.
FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes alleges that O'Keefe aided and abetted two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who dressed up as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office's telephone system.
A fourth person, Stan Dai, was accused of aiding and abetting Basel and Flanagan. All four were charged with entering fedral property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
This is just odd.
As CF noted earlier, the Times today highlighted the internal conflicts (read: $$$$) that seem to be roiling around the first ever Tea Party convention, slated for Nashville next month, and which will feature Sarah Palin as the featured ($$$$) speaker.
The strange part is the Times never mentions what should be the other raging controversy; the fact that organizers have basically banned the press from covering the political convention. (Scribes will be allowed to watch Palin's speech, but the rest of the right-wing gathering remains off-limits.) Actually, after first banning reporters, organizers relented and announced they would allow in a limited numbers of 'journalists' who work for outlets that routinely provide the Tea Party with favorable coverage. (Hint: if you work for Rupert Murdoch you have a really good chance of getting in.)
That press ban is a news story, period. Considering how the Tea Party right now is being showered with all kind of media attention, and being tagged as influential and important, the convention press ban is even more newsworthy.
And trust me, if back when it was first launched and was known as Yearly Kos, that annual liberal blogger confab had announced it was banning all outside journalists, the press would have gone bananas, denouncing organizers as secretive hypocrites.
Yet the Tea Party issues its press-hating edict and outlets like the New York Times, which are banned from covering most of the convention, fall silent. And the Times is hardly alone. To date, most of the Beltway press corps has given the Tea Party a pass for planning to lock out journalists, and for only granting access to writers who are aligned politically.
UPDATED: Since Tea Party organizers will only let in writers who have written favorably on the movement, does that mean The New Yorker's Ben McGrath earned his entry this week, thanks to his Tea Party valentine?
In the entire history of American journalism, there is probably not a single writer with a more horrible record of reporting on weapons of mass destruction than Judith Miller. So of course FoxNews.com's story about a report by the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction which graded the government on its handling of WMD proliferation features the byline of... Judith Miller.
Why might a news outlet think twice about letting Miller write any kind of story, let alone one involving WMD? During her time at the NY Times Miller repeatedly "reported" misinformation about Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities; those stories became evidence that could be cited by Bush administration officials to push their case for the invasion of Iraq. In other words, Miller's work was a vital part of the pro-war echo chamber. The NY Times later had to go to the unusual step of writing an editor's note about the shoddy quality of Miller's WMD work, as Slate's Eric Umansky noted (emphasis mine):
After taking its very sweet time, a NYT editor's note acknowledges that some of its WMD reporting was overly credulous and is no longer, em, operative. While archly noting that most of the coverage was an "accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time," the Times acknowledges, "We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged--or failed to emerge."
Not that anyone in particular is at fault: "Some critics of our coverage during that time have focused blame on individual reporters. Our examination, however, indicates that the problem was more complicated." Which is true; editors at the Times weren't skeptical enough and didn't give sufficient play to countervailing evidence. But just because many were at fault doesn't mean one wasn't particularly so. Of the 12 flawed stories the Times cites, Judith Miller wrote or co-wrote of 10 of them.
This is perhaps not the person you want to put on the WMD beat, to say the least. Or any beat, for that matter.