Professional sting artist James O'Keefe said Wednesday that CNN is his next target. In an interview with CNN (yes, really), O'Keefe claimed to have “a few hundred hours” of “secretly recorded material” from inside the cable news channel. He said he would release some of it Thursday morning.
O'Keefe's “CNN Leaks,” as he called them, would appear to be the fulfillment of a warning he issued last month at a pre-inauguration party called the DeploraBall. At the time, he said only that he would be “going after the media next.”
Our original, Jan. 20 post about that warning follows:
The great irony of James O'Keefe's new threat against the media is that he issued it at the National Press Club of all places.
“Everyone's saying, who are you going after next?” O'Keefe said at the event, according to Newsweek. “I'm going to tell you. I'll make it public. I'm going after the media next.”
Politico's Ben Schreckinger reported that O'Keefe indicated his media sting is already underway: “We're inside their newsrooms.”
We'll eventually find out whether O'Keefe's threat was legit or merely an attempt to make journalists paranoid about moles in their midst. It could have been both.
O'Keefe has gone after the media once before. In 2011, two people working for his Project Veritas group posed as representatives of a Muslim charity and secretly recorded a conversation with NPR fundraising executive Ron Schiller. They taped Schiller making disparaging remarks about tea party members, calling them “seriously racist, racist people” who “believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting.”
Schiller, who already had accepted a position at the Aspen Institute when the tape was released, resigned from NPR immediately. NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller, who is not related to Ron Schiller, stepped down also.
Another attempt to target the media would presumably have a similar aim — to reinforce conservatives' belief in pervasive liberal bias. (It should be noted that Ron Schiller, as NPR's vice president of fundraising, had nothing to do with news coverage.)
Incoming National Press Club President Jeff Ballou had the perfect response to O'Keefe's threat:
Mr. O'Keefe is free to exercise his First Amendment rights — even in our home.
Second, if he'd rather understand than fight the journalism profession, he now knows our address. I'm happy to listen to and educate him on the great work of our members and colleagues at large as we at the National Press Club have done for more than a century.
Third, it's clear we're leading by example of constitutional and legal tolerance because he made his declaration here.
Indeed, the fact that the National Press Club welcomed the DeploraBall and allowed O'Keefe to say whatever he wanted runs counter to the notion that the media is intolerant of conservative voices. It will be worth remembering this if and when O'Keefe comes out with his next tape.