Wallace's "Power Player" Designation For O'Keefe Ignores His History Of Deception
Research ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
For the second time, Chris Wallace named James O'Keefe Fox News Sunday's "Power Player of the Week." But Wallace ignored O'Keefe's history of discredited claims and allegations that O'Keefe deceptively edits his videos, including the NPR video that earned him the latest "Power Player" designation.
Wallace: "O'Keefe Has Taken On Some Big Targets And Come Up With Some Stunning Results"
Wallace Touted ACORN Sting, Promoted Upcoming Video Release. Wallace began his "Power Player of the Week" segment by touting O'Keefe's ability to go after "big targets" and get "stunning results," regardless of "[w]hether you admire or condemn his tactics." Wallace went on to tout how O'Keefe's ACORN videos "pushed Congress to cut off federal funding," and concluded by noting that a video from "an undercover sting of a public television executive" would be released by O'Keefe in the coming week. From the March 13 edition of Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Whether you admire or condemn his tactics, there's no debating that undercover activist James O'Keefe has taken on some big targets and come up with some stunning results. Once again, he's our "Power Player of the Week."
[begin video clip]
O'KEEFE: We thought it'd be a funny YouTube video and we'd get them to say something silly like "Oh, you guys, that's cute." But we never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine this.
WALLACE: That was James O'Keefe in 2009, marveling at the impact of his undercover ACORN videos that pushed Congress to cut off federal funding. Now he has struck again, masterminding a sting of NPR executives at what was supposedly a lunch with rich Muslim donors that showed their political bias here against the tea party.
RON SCHILLER [then-NPR Foundation president, video clip]: I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist.
WALLACE: We wanted to know what drives the 26-year-old O'Keefe, who describes himself not as a conservative but a progressive radical. And what we discovered is an outrage with liberal hypocrisy.
O'KEEFE: If you use their rules against them, you can really just tease them and mock them and really destroy them.
WALLACE: In 2009, when Hannah Giles called and proposed they sting ACORN, O'Keefe was on board.
O'KEEFE: She said, "I can be a prostitute." And that's when I said, "What if I'm a pimp?" And then we said, what if there are 13-year-old girls involved? And we just upped the ante and just made it more ridiculous.
WALLACE: O'Keefe has had problems. Last May, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for posing as a phone repairman to get into Senator Mary Landrieu's office. But now he has a new scalp. The head of NPR was forced out in the latest scandal, and Congress may oblige what that executive said was his secret hope.
SCHILLER [video clip] : It is very clear that we would be better off in the long run without federal funding.
[end video clip]
WALLACE: O'Keefe has also engineered an undercover sting of a public television executive, and his group says it will release that tape this week. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 3/13/11]
Wallace Ignored Deceptive Editing Of O'Keefe's Videos
Beck's Right-Wing Website Found "Questionable Editing" In O'Keefe's NPR Video. Citing an examination of the NPR video conducted by Glenn Beck's website TheBlaze.com, Politico's Ben Smith and Slate's David Weigel reported that the video of Schiller released by O'Keefe's Project Veritas was deceptively edited to portray certain statements by Schiller out of context. Smith described the editing as "some really serious, dishonest lily-gilding." [Ben Smith, Politico, 3/11/11; David Weigel, Slate, 3/11/11; The Blaze, 3/10/11]
In Touting ACORN Video, Wallace Ignored That O'Keefe Deceptively Edited Those As Well. Wallace noted that O'Keefe's ACORN videos "pushed Congress to cut off federal funding," but he didn't mention that the videos were edited to falsely suggest criminal violations by ACORN employees. Then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office conducted an investigation into the ACORN videos that concluded there was no evidence of illegal activity by ACORN, and that the videos were deceptively edited. According to Brown: "[T]hings are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor." [California Attorney General's Office, 4/1/10]
Wallace Plucked Schiller's Statement On NPR's Federal Funding Out Of Context
Wallace: End Of Federal Funding For NPR Is Schiller's "Secret Hope." In touting O'Keefe's "new scalp," Wallace said that "Congress may oblige what that executive [Ron Schiller] said was his secret hope," followed by a clip of Schiller saying, "It is very clear that we would be better off in the long run without federal funding." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 3/13/11]
Schiller Added That "A Lot Of Stations" Would "Go Dark" Without Federal Funding. Wallace cut off Schiller's statement before he added: " And the challenge right now is that if we lost it altogether, we'd have a lot of stations go dark." [Project Veritas/YouTube, accessed 3/13/11]
Wallace Glossed Over O'Keefe's Lies And Bizarre Behavior
Wallace Downplayed O'Keefe's "Problems." During the segment, Wallace briefly touched on the fact that O'Keefe "has had problems," noting only that he "pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for posing as a phone repairman to get into Sen. Mary Landrieu's office." [Fox News Sunday, 3/13/11]
O'Keefe's Record Is Defined By Falsehoods, Distortions, And Discrediting Stunts. O'Keefe's arrest in Landrieu's office was just one of the many instances demonstrating his lack of credibility:
- O'Keefe falsely claimed that his ACORN tapes were a "nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation" that implicated many ACORN employees. However, in at least six of the eight tapes, O'Keefe and his partner did not clearly tell the ACORN employees they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit. [Media Matters, 1/27/10]
- O'Keefe and his then-patron, Andrew Breitbart, had also falsely suggested that during the ACORN sting -- in which O'Keefe and an activist posing as a prostitute sought advice on how to skirt tax laws -- he had dressed in an outlandish pimp costume while visiting the ACORN offices when, in fact, he wore dress pants and a button-down shirt. [Media Matters, 2/17/10]
- In June 2010, O'Keefe released a video claiming to show that Census workers "systematically encourage[ed] employees to falsify information on their time sheets." ABC News revealed that O'Keefe had excluded a clip of a census leader telling workers that they must carefully and accurately report on their time sheets the number of miles they drive when they are doing their enumeration work. [Media Matters, 6/1/10]
- In September 2010, CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau revealed that O'Keefe had planned to trick her into getting on board a boat where, according to a colleague of O'Keefe's, he would secretly record his attempts to "hit on her" using "strawberries and champagne" and a variety of sexual props. According to a document obtained by CNN, the plan was to humiliate Boudreau: "Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television." O'Keefe later claimed that the proposed ambush had "repulsed" him and did not represent his actual plan. [CNN.com, 9/29/10; BigJournalism.com, 10/4/10]
This Is The Second Time Wallace Has Named O'Keefe A "Power Player"
Wallace Obfuscated Evidence O'Keefe Received Financial Backing From Conservatives. On the September 27, 2009, edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace named "fascinating character" O'Keefe "Power Player of the Week" for "the impact of his undercover ACORN videos." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/27/09] During that segment, Wallace allowed O'Keefe to deny "reports" that he "got any money from conservative backers" when, in fact, a conservative investor admitted funding a previous O'Keefe sting, and prominent conservatives -- including some on Fox News -- were promoting a legal defense fund for O'Keefe. Wallace also relayed O'Keefe's denial of a claim that employees Philadelphia office failed to call the police after O'Keefe's visit when, in fact, ACORN had released a copy of a Philadelphia police report stating that an ACORN employee complained to police that O'Keefe had created a "verbal disturbance" at ACORN's office. [Media Matters, 9/17/09, 9/29/10]