CNN reports that conservative activist James O'Keefe attempted to "punk" a CNN reporter by luring her onto a boat "filled with sexually explicit props" and recording the encounter, a charge O'Keefe denies. If true, the alleged deception would be the latest in a string of lies and falsehoods O'Keefe has used to push his ideological agenda.
James O'Keefe: A history of lies, falsehoods, and deception
O'Keefe falsely claimed that ACORN tapes were a "nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation" that implicated many ACORN employees. Discussing the ACORN videos created by O'Keefe and fellow conservative activist Hannah Giles, O'Keefe falsely claimed that the video campaign was a "nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation" implicating many ACORN employees. But in at least six of the eight heavily edited videos produced by O'Keefe and Giles and distributed by Andrew Breitbart, either the activists did not clearly tell the ACORN employees that 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.
Law enforcement officials criticize O'Keefe's "highly selective editing of reality." Three separate investigations cleared ACORN workers of any criminal wrongdoing, and a December 22, 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that California and Maryland criminal laws may have been violated by the undisclosed taping done by O'Keefe. California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. pointed out that the videotapes were "severely edited by O'Keefe." In a statement, Brown said, "The evidence illustrates ... that things 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." Likewise, a March 1 New York Daily News article reported that "a law enforcement source" said of O'Keefe and Giles: "They edited the tape to meet their agenda." A March 2 New York Post article, headlined "ACORN set up by vidiots: DA," reported of O'Keefe and Giles' ACORN tapes: "Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said."
Breitbart and O'Keefe withheld exculpatory LA ACORN video for two months. For more than two months after Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com website began posting videos in which O'Keefe and Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute in ACORN offices, O'Keefe and his cohorts withheld video that directly contradicted what they said the videos showed. In September 2009, Giles and Big Government editor-in-chief Mike Flynn had both falsely claimed that every ACORN office O'Keefe and Giles visited had offered to help them. Also during September 2009, both Breitbart and O'Keefe were asked directly by reporters whether any ACORN offices had refused to help; Breitbart and O'Keefe chose not to disclose the existence of a tape that showed at least one ACORN worker who refused to help. In a video released November 16, 2009, O'Keefe finally acknowledged that a Los Angeles ACORN worker they filmed in August 2009 "would not assist us obtain a house for our illegal activities."
O'Keefe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charge of entering Senate office under false pretenses. As reported by The Times-Picayune on May 26:
The four defendants who were arrested in January in Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs federal complex in New Orleans pleaded guilty Wednesday morning in federal court to entering real property belonging to the United States under false pretenses.
Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles III sentenced Stan Dai, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan each to two years probation, a fine of $1,500 and 75 hours of community service during their first year of probation.
James O'Keefe, as leader of the group and famous for posing as a pimp in ACORN office videos, received three years of probation, a fine of $1,500 and 100 hours of community service.
O'Keefe's BigGovernment video omits relevant clip in claiming that "Census supervisors" were "systemically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets." In a ten-minute video posted on BigGovernment.com, O'Keefe stated that he had been hired as a Census worker and attended two days of training. He said, "What I found were Census supervisors systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets." The video includes clips of census leaders, who according to O'Keefe, "didn't seem to have a problem with the discrepancy" of the hours recorded on his time sheet versus the hours he claimed to have worked. O'Keefe omitted a clip that was later aired by ABC, which shows a census leader emphasizing the importance of accurately reporting on miles driven by census enumerators.
Friend of O'Keefe reportedly objected to past transcript distortion. A September 18, 2009, New York Times article reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O'Keefe's while at Rutgers University, said she "grew disillusioned" after O'Keefe asked Farkas to help deceptively "edit the script" of a video involving a nurse at the University of California at Los Angeles.
- James O'Keefe