Abbie Boudreau, the CNN reporter whose attempted meeting with James O'Keefe exposed an alleged plan to embarrass her with a sex-themed prank, said the incident showed O'Keefe "has no boundaries."
The meeting was part of Boudreau's reporting for a series set to appear this weekend on CNN that profiles several young conservative activists, many of whom follow O'Keefe, she said.
"I have all of them on the record saying they consider him to be an influential part of the young conservative movement," Boudreau told me today. "One thing we learned is that there are few rules and few boundaries."
Among the conservatives she cited that are profiled in the series are Lila Rose, Christian Hartsock, Ryan Sorba, and Jason Mattera.
"A lot of the people we follow in the documentary look up to him and respect him," she added. "I do not know how they will react to what happened."
What happened is the incident on Aug. 17 that has just come to light now as CNN reveals the details.
Boudreau, 32, is a nine-year veteran reporter who has been at CNN for three years. As part of her reporting for the series, she was set to meet with O'Keefe, the controversial activist best known for his past ACORN video stunt.
After O'Keefe called Boudreau and set up a meeting to discuss her report, she says that he directed her to come to a home in Maryland. According to Boudreau, when she arrived, O'Keefe's assistant, Izzy Santa, told her that she was about to be the object of a prank.
Documents CNN later obtained revealed the prank involved the use of sexually-explicit items and an elaborate seduction scene on the boat.
Boudreau said she approached O'Keefe that day, but declined to get on the boat.
"I was prepared for him to videotape me," she recalled. "I never believed it would lead to some bizarre Love Boat situation."
Boudreau said when she reached the boat, O'Keefe was dressed up and smoking what appeared to be a fake cigarette: "It was all very theatrical. He was trying to get me on the boat. He was very smooth, with a soothing voice."
She added, "I am not sure it was a fake cigarette, but I never saw so much smoke come out of a cigarette."
Documents later obtained by CNN reportedly include an elaborate plan by O'Keefe and his associates to embarrass Boudreau with some kind of seduction scene.
Other documents indicate an alleged plot to set up Boudreau or another CNN reporter with a false story about Sarah Palin or the Tea Party and later expose that it was false, possibly through Fox News.
"They call Fox the 'friendlys' and their allies," Boudreau says about the documents. "It was a very detailed plan to trick myself or another CNN reporter to report a false story and then give the heads up to Fox News."
Fox News did not respond to requests for comment from Media Matters, but Mediaite reports that Fox told them they had not been contacted by O'Keefe or his people.
Boudreau says she was surprised at how far O'Keefe would go to embarrass her and adds she went into the reporting with an open mind.
"I wanted to watch and learn," she said of the young conservative movement. "I was interested particularly to do this because of the ACORN videos. The first person we interviewed was Hannah Giles [the ACORN video 'prostitute']. I was interested in young people who were excited about their beliefs. It took a long time to get people to be willing to be interviewed.
"Did I expect James O'Keefe to be part of a punk? No. I never thought it would go this far. I don't operate like this. I was there to have a conversation and ease his concerns and give him a fair shake."
CNN has released some of the documents that include alleged e-mails between O'Keefe and others and the detailed prank plan. Boudreau said some have yet to be released because they are very sexually explicit.
"If it were up to me, I would just put out the entire document," she told me. "But because of the sexual nature of it, it has to be a network decision. It is just really explicit."
Boudreau said talks are going on at the network about how and when the documents might be released. "That is a communication that is happening right now. There is a lot of sexually explicit language in that document."
She said the incident did not tarnish her view of all young conservatives or those who use their own videotaping tactics to expose what they perceive as corruption.
But she said of O'Keefe, "It had an effect on me wondering how far a person like him is willing to go. There are few rules and really no boundaries. There is a group of young people out there who want to expose truth and corruption and they are willing to do what it takes to expose that truth. This situation showed he crossed the line."
Still, Boudreau says she would interview O'Keefe in the future: "It would have to be on my turf."