The above video report is just the tip of the iceberg in this story about a bizarre attempt at what is generously being referred to in the media as a “prank” or a “punk”. For my part, I’m not so sure those words will do.
Look, I’m not a journalist. I’m a blogger. But the term “citizen journalism” is a popular one these days, most often used when referring to people who produce video. Most of these folks could more properly be referred to as activists. James O’Keefe has been referred to as both.
O’Keefe made his major debut on the activist scene back in 2008, when he produced the “ACORN” videos which were then posted at Andrew Breitbart’s “Big” sites. The corruption exposed in the videos brought enormous attention to a very serious story that has had long-lasting implications nationwide. It was just some dudes with cameras, but the subsequent investigations revealed wide-spread corruption and fraud. If indeed “citizen journalism” is a thing, this was it.
Not so for O’Keefe’s latest alleged, and thankfully foiled, video ambush plan, described in the above video. And the video ain’t the half of it, as we say in the south.
The real creepiness of the proposed “stunt” is excerpted by CNN here. The document, titled “CNN Caper”, outlines a grotesque plan to isolate reporter Abbie Boudreau on a boat in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by pornography, condoms, and sex toys, and then engage in an attempted “seduction”. Seriously. There was a tripod and camera over the bed meant to appear, and this is a quote from the document, as “an obvious sex tape machine.” And those are just the parts that CNN has released so far.
The twisted logic outlined to justify this plot is that CNN “seduces” conservative activists by having attractive reporters, and this would somehow be turning the tables on CNN. Or whatever.
At one point in the strange outline, there is actually a script, complete with fantasized responses from Boudreau. Again, yes … seriously.
As Boudreau reported to CNN’s Rick Sanchez in an interview, “part of the script was I would break down and start crying and … ask to just please let me off the boat.”
That’s considered “punking”? A deliberate plan to make her feel isolated, alone, unsafe and afraid? The stated goal of which is to have her pleading to be let go?? That’s not called punking around here.
O’Keefe, in a statement to CNN, said that the document was not his “work product” and claimed that when it was sent to him, he “immediately found certain elements highly objectionable and inappropriate, and did not consider them for one minute following it.”
Boudreau, however, counters that “that does not appear to be true, according to a series of emails we obtained from Izzy Santa, who says the e-mails reveal James’ true intentions.” Izzy Santa, as you saw in the video above, was the activist who pulled the plug on the plan by informing Boudreau.
If an enterprising citizen can expose media bias with a video camera and good idea, that’s a good thing. But I fail to see how luring a lone female reporter to a remote location and isolating her on a boat, surrounding her with sex toys and pornography, and trying to convince her that the virtual stranger sitting next to her is coming on to her, possibly in front of a “sex tape machine,” does that. That’s not a recipe for a gotcha video, it’s more like a step-by-step instruction on how to cause discomfort and fear. What an ugly and potentially traumatic situation to create on purpose. It’s not clever or funny, it’s sick.
There will no doubt be more details and, one assumes from the reporting, emails, that will fully establish who wrote what and whether O’Keefe was going to go through with the plan or not. Those details will probably be reported by Boudreau, an actual journalist.
So no, I don’t think “stunt” or “prank” are the right words. I think the one I would use is “despicable.”
Oh and Izzy Santa? Good for you.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll just note that RedState Editor Erick Erickson also works for CNN.