From a January 27 post on National Review Online's blog The Corner:
I am shocked by the reports of this behavior. I am well aware that following the law is an integral part of being a good investigative journalist. I take that responsibility and accountability very seriously. I certainly hope these reports are untrue.
This is how James O'Keefe views the work he does:
I focus on content more than labels. I happen to call what I do shoe leather journalism and not advocacy journalism. So, I would consider it just journalism.
Well, who would have thought that "shoe leather journalism" included raising money for a political party? I guess that's "conservative journalism" for you.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
Salt Lake County Republicans are scrambling to line up a new keynote fundraising speaker after the arrest Tuesday of their scheduled first choice, filmmaker James O'Keefe, on charges of attempting to tamper with the phone system of a U.S. senator.
"The allegations and arrest today certainly change our plans," county GOP Chairman Thomas Wright said in a telephone interview with The Tribune. "We'll be announcing a new speaker shortly."
As of Tuesday night, the party's Web site, slcogop.com, still advertised O'Keefe as the guest speaker for the Feb. 4 Lincoln Day Dinner. His topic was to be "his national exposé of ACORN's unethical behavior, his changes in Congress and [how he will] inspire our Party's passion for a grassroots comeback."
The fundraising announcement said donations of $4,000 to $7,500 would entitle contributing groups to have access to elected Republican officials and the guest speaker at a VIP reception. Wright said the Web site and other promotions would be altered soon to reflect a change.
"We're disappointed," he said of O'Keefe's arrest on felony charges. "He doesn't necessarily represent the Republican Party."
An interesting tidbit came to mind following conservative activist James O'Keefe's arrest for allegedly participating in an attempt to tamper with phones at the New Orleans offices of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Let's go back a few months: After O'Keefe released a video of ACORN workers in Baltimore that was recorded without the workers' consent, some observers suggested that he and fellow activist Hannah Giles could face criminal charges for violating a Maryland law that requires the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to make the recording lawful. When Fox News' Glenn Beck asked O'Keefe about such a possibility, O'Keefe replied that he was "willing to serve prison time for what I've found."
From the September 15, 2009, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: Are you concerned at all? Baltimore is coming after you. They're not even coming after the corruption here. They're coming after you and Hannah. And they're saying that you could go to prison for five years for taping these people in Baltimore.
O'KEEFE: I'm not concerned. I don't think -- I think it's not in their interest to come after me. And if they -- and if -- I'm willing to serve prison time for what I've found.
BECK: You worry about going to jail at all?
From the You Can't Make This Up Dept., comes the latest from Quinn, who long ago convinced herself that glittering Beltway soirées are the engine that drive this great nation. Still, watching her interpret history through the prism of a guest list is just painful.
When Jimmy Carter arrived in Washington, he and Rosalynn and many of their advisers were decidedly not interested in the locals and made it known. That chill was such a mistake that Teddy Kennedy felt free to challenge Carter, which doomed Carter's reelection.
From Fox Nation:
Last Friday, reportedly in response to Joe Scarborough criticizing Keith Olbermann via Twitter, MSNBC president Phil Griffin issued an edict to staff:
We have many strong personalities with differing, passionate opinions, but it is important to remember that we are all on the same team. I want to reiterate my long-standing policy: We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.
I couldn't agree less.
When journalists think other journalists are doing their jobs badly, it is not only acceptable for them to say so, it is important for them to do so. The reluctance to do so contributes to mindless pack journalism, often with disastrous consequences.
Think how different things might have been if New York Times reporters said publicly during the 2000 campaign that their colleagues were treating Al Gore far more harshly than George W. Bush. Or if they had said publicly during the run-up to the Iraq war that Judith Miller and others at the paper were cheerleading on behalf of a bogus case for war. Or if Washington Post reporters had publicly said Ceci Connolly's factual inaccuracy and overt hostility towards Al Gore should disqualify her from continuing to cover him. Such criticism might have made atrocious coverage a little better. It couldn't possibly have made it worse.
Unfortunately, journalists tend to be reluctant to publicly criticize their peers -- including journalists at competing news organizations -- even without edicts like Griffin's.
As president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin has a brand to protect, so it is understandable that he doesn't like seeing people on his payroll undermine the brand by criticizing other people on his payroll. But a key part of a news organization's job is (or should be) the relentless and accurate pursuit of the truth. Stifling disagreement makes that pursuit less likely, and less likely to be executed well. And that isn't good for the brand, either.
Not a good day for Andrew Breitbart.
As his hand-groomed protégé, undercover ACORN video auteur James O'Keefe, sat in a Louisiana police station under arrest for attempting to tamper with a U.S. senator's telephone system, Breitbart's media empire went into lockdown, issuing only a terse statement denying any knowledge of O'Keefe's activities. This morning, however, Breitbart broke the silence, posting a missive to BigGovernment.com announcing that he, Andrew Breitbart, was going to "[w]ait until the facts are in" before "jumping to conclusions" like Media Matters and everyone else in the media.
Imagine that -- Andrew Breitbart chastising the world for passing judgment before the facts are in.
Sort of like when Breitbart used O'Keefe's deceptively edited videos to issue broad condemnations of ACORN's willingness to aid in child prostitution, even though later investigations found that ACORN had done nothing to violate the law or eligibility for federal funding.
Or like when BigGovernment.com attacked the White House for playing host to ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, only to find out later that it was a different Bertha Lewis.
Or like when Breitbart worked with a private detective who rooted through ACORN's trash, and then told the world that ACORN had conducted a "document dump" in advance of an investigation, even though the "documents" turned out to be mainly fliers and old newsletters.
Or how about when that same private detective, in the course of investigating the "document dump," posted a video on BigGovernment.com of "ACORN operatives clearly engaged in some kind of discussion - likely related to the activities of that evening." Some solid factual grounding there.
And who can forget the "political statements" the Obamas made with their Maoist Christmas tree ornaments? Turns out those were decorated by local community groups, and the image of Mao on one of the ornaments was actually a reprint of Andy Warhol's paintings mocking the Chinese dictator.
Oh, and the time that Breitbart posted a video claiming that a group of community organizers were "praying" to Obama, and later had to walk it back because he didn't have any -- what's the word I'm looking for... ah yes, facts.
So by all means, Andrew, wait as long as you like before commenting on the alleged illegal activities of your employee and star pupil. Both you and he are still entitled to a fair hearing of the facts, even if you rarely extend that courtesy to others.
"I get accused of breaking some journalism school rules," said Breitbart. "Well, why don't we have the Howard Kurtz conversation on a low-rated CNN show after this? Or at a J-school of your choice? I'm willing to be accused of being a monster."
Newsbuster Scott Whitlock reminds us once again that the reason conservatives don't like the media is simply that reporters aren't on the payroll of the Republican Party:
ABC's George Stephanopoulos Frets to McCain: Tax Cuts Will 'Increase the Deficit'
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:00 ET
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos played defense for the White House on Tuesday. While talking with John McCain about Obama's 2010 proposals, he sounded annoyed that the Senator's ideas for job creation would include tax cuts: "But, those tax cuts are going to increase the deficit, aren't they, sir?"
Now, here's the actual exchange in question:
MCCAIN: Tax cuts. Payroll tax cuts. Giving more tax incentives and breaks to small businesses. Making sure that we do not raise taxes, which may happen if the present tax cuts lapse. There's a lot of things that we can do to- including, by the way, a path to some kind of fiscal sanity. Another $1.4 trillion-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, those tax cuts are going to increase the deficit, aren't they, sir?
So, in a span of three sentences, John McCain called for both "tax cuts" and "fiscal sanity." Stephanopoulos asked the most obvious follow-up question in the world -- won't those tax cuts increase the deficit? And Newsbuster Scott Whitlock thinks this is Stephanopoulos "fret[ting]" and "play[ing] defense for the White House."
In response to McCain making two seemingly contradictory statements, Stephanopoulos did the only responsible thing a journalist could do -- he pressed his guest to reconcile those statements. And that bothers the Newsbusters crew. This is what they mean when they rant about the "liberal media": Journalists sometimes fail to ask "how high" when told by Republicans to jump.
In an interview with right-wing talker Hugh Hewitt that was supposed to double as damage control, Andrew Breitbart may have done more harm that good.
Notice this passage [emphasis added]:
This is a highly motivated press right now to take the story line that's being spoon-fed by people that I don't even know, to make sure that he's guilty. And he's going to have to prove himself innocent.
Why does Breitbart assume O'Keefe has to "prove himself innocent." According to the FBI, O'Keefe confessed to the plot.
From today's WSJ:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Mr. O'Keefe, who had traveled to New Orleans and delivered a speech Thursday, admitted to helping plan and coordinate the scheme.
Of course nobody has been convicted. But shouldn't Breitbart be pondering the possibility that his protégé O'Keefe broke the law in pursuit of "conservative journalism"? And if he did, will Breitbart pledge today to cut his financial ties with O'Keefe?
UPDATED: Note that yesterday Breitbart told real journalists that he didn't' have enough information to comment on the O'Keefe arrest. So what did he do? He went on Hewitt's show and commented on O'Keefe's arrest. More proof of Breitbart's open contempt for journalism. And yes, he runs a site that supposedly holds journalists "accountable."
UPDATED: More unintended laughs, courtesy of Breitbart. From the same (totally awesome) Hewitt interview:
So right now, what we have is information that is coming from the mainstream press that is presuming James O'Keefe's guilt. This is a highly motivated press right now to take the story line that's being spoon-fed by people that I don't even know, to make sure that he's guilty.
Ah, it's a conspiracy. "Spoon-fed"? You mean like when people are arrested, arraigned in court, and then the FBI publicly release an affidavit. Getting that story is called journalism, not that Breitbart would ever recognize it.
That's his job.
UPDATED: So according to Breitbart, he's waiting for all the facts surrounding the O'Keefe case. But yesterday Breitbart, not knowing all the facts, went on Hewitt's show and stressed that O'Keefe had to "prove himself innocent."
Good to know.
UPDATED: When in doubt, Breitbart tweets about "fisting."
Behold "conservative journalism."