James O’Keefe: The Most Trustworthy Name In News
By Jordan B. Rickards, www.RickardsReview.com
“There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” — Oscar Wilde
The guerilla journalist James O’Keefe strikes again. The man who exposed Planned Parenthood accepting donations for race-based population control, and ACORN employees eager to aid in child prostitution and sex trafficking, set his sights most recently on liberal bulwark NPR. As has been widely reported by now, O’Keefe’s associates taped NPR executives enthusiastic to receive a $5 million donation from the Muslim Brotherhood, and in so doing characterized Tea Partiers and evangelical Christians as “racist.”
But Brian Todd, who interviewed O’Keefe for CNN (which might very well stand for Condescending News Network), tried to turn the story away from NPR and onto O’Keefe, accusatorily asking “What do you say to those who say to you that this was sleazy, that you set those people up in an underhanded way, that it’s not journalism?” This was not the first time O’Keefe had been forced to defend himself from an ad hominem assault from a journalist, as George Stephanopoulos had already done that in an “interview” that read more like a criminal interrogation, wherein the former political operative accused O’Keefe of being a political operative. O’Keefe, therefore, should have anticipated Todd’s personal attack, yet he did not respond tactfully. O’Keefe, whose preferred medium is visual presentation and is yet untrained in the art of rhetoric, countered defensively by saying “ABC’s Primetime live used to do frankly far sleazier things when they went into supermarkets, and got jobs at supermarkets, and they set up private citizens.”
That was a rather regrettable response. By saying that another group is “sleazier,” O’Keefe unwittingly conceded his critic’s point, which is that what he does is itself sleazy. This is, of course, nonsense. O’Keefe should have responded by pointing out that his methodology is no different than what narcotics officers do when they bust drug dealers by engaging in undercover buys. This sort of tactic is made necessary because, as O’Keefe realizes while CNN pretends not to, the only way to observe honest behavior from a dishonest person is to trick him into thinking he’s not being observed by anyone he would hope to deceive. The more relevant question then, the question O’Keefe should have shot back at Todd, is why does James O’Keefe have to do the main stream media’s work for them?
The answer is that the self-impressed media elite seem more concerned these days with selling books, touring the lecture circuit, and making sure they attend the right cocktail parties, than in actually performing any investigative work beyond checking the Drudge Report every fifteen minutes for updates on Charlie Sheen or Lindsey Lohan. The talking heads we see on today’s ubiquitous 24/7 news cycle may fashion themselves as modern incarnations of Walter Cronkite, even occasionally tackling hard news, but really they are a breed of their own: a new class of journo-pundit, an incomparably smug group which demonstrates on a nightly basis that to be included in their class you do not have to be intelligent, only opinionated. To members of this group, they need not look past their reflections for the news, because in their minds they are the news. While O’Keefe’s lens points at the event, their lenses point at themselves.
True, a conservative like Sarah Palin comes on the scene and reporters descend on Alaska like locusts, swarming about for anything that could discredit her. Conservative nominees to the Supreme Court are hyper-scrutinized for anything that might reveal a character defect, or at least lend itself to such an inference. And we all remember the lengths to which the media went to demonstrate that George Bush had either not served, or served dishonorably in the National Guard.
But such vigilance is exclusively reserved for right-of-center targets. Liberal Supreme Court nominees like Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan never had their discarded trash rummaged through, or video stores in their hometowns interviewed for the names of movies they may have rented, as happened to Robert Bork. We know every intimate detail of Palin’s life, and George Bush’s academic woes are legend, but we have no college records for our commander in chief, nor any major news outlet making any effort to discover them. And while the investigation into Bush’s National Guard service culminated with Dan Rather’s resignation after the discovery (by a blogger) that he had based his reports on fake documents, almost no media attention was paid when Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor, stole and destroyed real, classified documents from the National Archives in order to hide them from the 9/11 Commission.
Journalists often brag that they write the first draft of history. But historians, being a more cynical, sagacious, and erudite group, are often keen to recite William Durant’s caution that history is mostly guessing, and the rest prejudice. Indeed, in modern American media there is only one objective source that can be trusted to write the first draft of history without conjecture or bias, and it is not CNN, or NBC, or FoxNews.
It is James O’Keefe’s camera. May its battery never die.