James O’Keefe’s Much-Hyped CNN ‘Expose’ Much Like James O’Keefe: A Total Joke (VIDEO)
Conservative activist James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, the right-wing propaganda outlet known for videos deceptively edited to portray a false narrative about their targets, O’Keefe declared that he’d come up with explosive “news” about CNN, but that “news” blew right up in his face.
James O’Keefe plays fast and loose with the facts
It seems O’Keefe was determined to root out CNN’s “liberal bias” against President Donald Trump, but that fell flatter than Trump’s abysmal approval ratings because it was revealed that all O’Keefe really did was obtain 119 hours of audio recordings from low-level CNN staff members that were made all the way back in 2009.
And O’Keefe’s claim had some CNN staffers worried he would release recordings that might embarrass the network, Politico reports. It’s likely that the employees didn’t feel any better when he was featured on The Drudge Report and Sean Hannity’s radio show, where he previewed the tapes. People at CNN may have also been concerned because of O’Keefe well-documented history of selectively editing recordings. In fact, O’Keefe was convicted and forced to pay a $100,000 fine for this very reason, He was even convicted of tampering with the phone lines of former Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu’s office.
Suffice it to say that the staffers needn’t have worried. At least so far, since O’Keefe hasn’t released all of the recordings, whether questionably edited or not.
“In Project Veritas’ news release about the tapes, the first highlighted segment are two producers talking about the use of certain polls and why then-CNN polling director (now NH1 News political director and anchor) Paul Steinhauser declined to use a poll by Rassmussen a group whose polling methods are still not widely accepted. Another highlight is of an assignment desk editor saying ‘Fox News is unbearable,’ and a news desk editor talking about how ‘there’s no debate’ about climate change.”
Let’s unpack that.
Not wanting to use polls with questionable methods? Suggesting that Fox News, the so-called news network conceived and created to be a Republican Party propaganda tool, which often broadcasts hateful, fear-mongering, or blatantly false content, is “unbearable”. Suggesting that the fact of climate change is, or at least should be, beyond debate – which is the consensus of the serious scientific community? Where is the journalistic malfeasance in any of that?
O’Keefe seized upon a well-known quote about the role of journalism in “aiding the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” But the situation, as portrayed by Project Veritas, depicted Richard Griffiths (now CNN’s Vice President and Senior Editorial Director) as being ‘caught’ explaining what the role of a journalist should be.
As ‘caught’ by Project Veritas, here’s Griffith’s quote:
“If we are journalists, what is our role as a journalist? What is the fundamental role as a journalist, for us to do? Tell a story. Tell what’s going on. There is a secondary corollary to that, right? Aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To a degree, right? Is that not a part of the traditional role of a journalist. It’s actually one of the things I can most be proud of as a journalist. You know we try hard to show the ugly side of humanity so we can do something about it. It’s hard, very hard.”
The phrase “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is a cornerstone for many journalists. It is, in fact, one of the most famous quotes about the press, Poynter reports. It comes from a fictional character created in 1893 by the noted journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne, who was writing for The Chicago Evening Post.
Dunne introduced his readers to the fictional character, an Irish Bartender named Mr. Dooley, who had a penchant for satirical humor when it comes to politics. And it’s Mr. Dooley who’s credited with this famous phrase.
But what’s interesting is that many of us remember the phrase like this:
“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
The phrase appeared in the 1902 book Observations By Mr. Dooley, and it’s definitely different than what we remember, and it’s actually critical of the press:
“Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim afttherward.”
It could be said that when President Trump and his cronies get too comfortable, it’s our job as journalists to afflict him. The same goes for O’Keefe.
Politico reports that O’Keefe has said in a video (which video isn’t specified) that he thinks CNN is now attempting to afflict Trump. And he’s going further than that, asking volunteers to sift through the 119 hours of raw tape. He’s also offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who finds examples of “content that exposes media malfeasance.”
What O’Keefe’s project really showed with this “laughably underwhelming” supposed exposé was really just an over-eager attempt to validate Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media. His “bombshell” was little more than a nothingburger, topped by a lot of nothingcheese.
Or as one CNN spokesperson said:
“I don’t think there’s anything to comment on.”
Watch O’Keefe pander to people foolish enough to believe him:
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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.