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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 02:49 PM ET, 10/27/2011

O’Keefe, Shirky, Rosen, and the nothing sandwich

Take away the Project Veritas branding, take away the “To catch a journalist” title, take away the James O’Keefe conspiratorialism, and the video below is nothing but a couple of professors prattling on in not-so-fascinating ways about media and politics. Actually, even with all that stuff, it’s still just a couple of professors prattling on in not-so-fascinating ways about media and politics.

Of course, it’s just another in a series of O’Keefe clandestine videos. Of ACORN- and NPR-exposing fame, O’Keefe lives to do surreptitious videos of allegedly bad actors in our society, and lately he’s been taking aim at journalists. After this one and the one earlier about HuffPo reporter Sam Stein allegedly intoxicating his sources, it’s clear that O’Keefe needs a couple of things:

1) A bona fide scandal;

2) An editor.

Someone needs to have the authority to tell O’Keefe: Hey, there’s nothing here. Bag it.

New York University Professor Jay Rosen does a wonderful job of articulating O’Keefe’s nothing sandwich. Rosen is one the journalism professors — another is Clay Shirky — who is shown in the video. The footage depicts Rosen making some remarks about how the media is an elite part of American society. In the latter part of the gotcha video, O’Keefe places a recorded phone call to Rosen. When O’Keefe asks Rosen to comment on some remarks he’d made in the undercover video, Rosen replies, “Do whatever you want to do.” Over and over.

David Folkenflik of NPR tweeted that in this instance, O’Keefe’s plot to “catch a journalist” “looks an awful lot like “to catch a J school prof.” And that’s an important point. Though Rosen and Shirky are prominent thinkers in the area of media and culture, they are not primarily journalists. That very fact explains why many journalists spit and sneer when the names of these journocritics emerge, as they often do, in discussions about the industry’s future.

We’re expecting a correction from Project Veritas any second now.

By  |  02:49 PM ET, 10/27/2011

 
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