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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 01:42 PM ET, 10/24/2011

James O’Keefe, whiffing with his gotcha attempt on Sam Stein

Video-ambush provocateur James O’Keefe lays bare his tendentious silliness in a new almost-gotcha hit on Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein. The key bit of information about Stein comes when some guy with O’Keefe’s Project Veritas uses a hidden camera to interview a former professor of Stein’s at Columbia Journalism School.

Associate Professor Dale Maharidge ends up gushing about Stein:

“Sam’s amazing. He’s not a go-out-to-the-hinterlands kind of guy. . . . I stay in touch with Sam. He goes out drinking at night with people. . . . You get some booze in people and suddenly the stories flow.”

Scandal!!!!! Prominent Washington reporter intoxicates — poisons! — Washington wags and then robs them of information.

If ever there were an opportunity for an O’Keefe trap. Get some middle-aged person with nice clothes and a story line about being a Washington lobbyist. Get an e-mail over to Stein saying the following:

Dear Mr. Stein: I loved your story on how overblown all that Muffingate coverage was. Hilarious! It made me realize how the media goes out of control for ticky-tack stories of gov’t waste, when there is a huge one that has never, ever been told, and it involves the complicity of some important Washington figures. Buy me a drink or two and I’ll tell you all about it! Deal?

How could Stein have possibly passed up such an offer? Next step: Meet Stein while carrying a hidden camera and chronicle a night in which he recklessly shoves margarita after mojito after draft beer at his source.

Instead of that must-see scenario, O’Keefe calls Stein and asks if he gets his sources drunk. Associate Professor Maharidge would appreciate the journalistic lesson that springs from O’Keefe’s call: No fishing expeditions.

By  |  01:42 PM ET, 10/24/2011

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