Following conservative activist James O'Keefe's arrest for allegedly participating in an attempt to interfere with the telephone system at the New Orleans offices of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Media Matters for America review found that O'Keefe previously appeared at least seven times on Fox News and other Fox networks to promote videos he recorded of ACORN workers. During these appearances, O'Keefe said he was "willing to serve prison time" for potentially violating Maryland's two-party recording law, and asserted that he was "doing creative investigative journalism."
O'Keefe has appeared on Fox networks at least seven times since September 13
September 13, 2009: On Fox, O'Keefe omits relevant evidence as to whether any ACORN employees "were not willing to cooperate." During a September 13, 2009, appearance on Fox News, senior correspondent Eric Shawn asked O'Keefe, "Were there some that refused your offers, that actually did not -- were not willing to cooperate?" O'Keefe responded: "No -- in none of the facil -- none of the facilities kicked us out. That's a lie." O'Keefe's response omitted relevant information he subsequently disclosed in a video released November 16, 2009 -- more than two months after Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com website began posting videos of O'Keefe and conservative activist Hannah Giles visiting ACORN offices. In the video released on November 16, 2009, O'Keefe stated that a Los Angeles ACORN worker identified as Felix Harris "was the only ACORN employee in our nationwide investigation who would not assist us obtain a house for our illegal activities." O'Keefe further stated in that video that his interaction with Harris occurred on "August 17, 2009," nearly one month prior to his interview with Shawn.
September 14, 2009: On Fox & Friends, O'Keefe says that ACORN "expressed no hesitation" helping him "skirt the law." O'Keefe was a guest on the September 14, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends in which he appeared to promote a video taken at a Brooklyn, New York, ACORN office. After co-host Brian Kilmeade assured the audience that O'Keefe -- who appeared on the show in full-length fur coat and sunglasses and carrying a cane -- was not really a pimp and was just "playing one on our show," O'Keefe agreed, stating, "I'm one of the whitest guys ever." Co-host Steve Doocy asked, "You went into these offices and you asked for help essentially skirting the law, and they were awfully helpful in helping you do just that, right?" O'Keefe replied, in part, that "they expressed no hesitation. ... They came up with new scenarios to skirt the law that I never thought of."
September 15, 2009: On Fox, O'Keefe says he is "willing to serve prison time for what I found." After O'Keefe released a video of ACORN workers in Baltimore that was apparently recorded without the workers' consent, some observers suggested that he and Giles could face criminal charges for violating a Maryland Law that requires the consent of every party to a private conversation in order to make the recording lawful. When Fox News' Glenn Beck asked O'Keefe about such a possibility, O'Keefe replied that he was "willing to serve prison time for what I found."
From the September 15, 2009, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: OK. Are you concerned at all? Baltimore is coming after you. They're not even coming after the corruption here. They're coming after you and Hannah. And they're saying that you could go to prison for five years for taping these people in Baltimore.
O'KEEFE: I'm not concerned. I don't think -- I think it's not in their interest to come after me. And if -- I'm willing to serve prison time for what I found.
BECK: You worry about going to jail at all?
September 27, 2009: Fox's Wallace names O'Keefe "power player of the week" to attack Media Matters on conservative funding of videographers, ignoring Media Matters' evidence. On the September 27, 2009, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace helped O'Keefe defend his dwindling credibility by advancing several of O'Keefe's claims without noting that those claims were contradicted by readily available evidence. Wallace suggested that O'Keefe "denies reports" by Media Matters that O'Keefe, in Wallace's words, "got any money from conservative backers." Wallace did not note that the evidence Media Matters highlighted consisted of public statements by conservatives that they had funded O'Keefe in the past or planned to raise money for O'Keefe and his partner, Hannah Giles, in the future.
November 16, 2009: On Fox, O'Keefe defends his tactics as "creative investigative journalism." In an appearance on the November 16, 2009, edition of Fox News' Hannity, O'Keefe told Sean Hannity: "The thing that's more outrageous than even what you see is the fact that it takes two citizen journalists to do this type of thing. The media is not devoting resources, doing creative investigative journalism. So we hope people will join us in future projects."
November 19, 2009: On Fox, O'Keefe says that "most people in this country think we did a lot right." During an appearance on the November 19, 2009, edition of Hannity, after being asked by Hannity, "How difficult is -- is it knowing that you have a lawsuit hanging over your head?" O'Keefe stated: "I mean, some people say that we did something wrong, but from what I've seen, most people in this country think we did a lot right." (Transcript accessed via Nexis)
November 20, 2009: On Fox Business, O'Keefe calls ACORN videos "journalism in its purest form." On the November 20, 2009, edition of Fox Business Network's Happy Hour, co-host Rebecca Diamond told O'Keefe: "If you want to be considered a real journalist ... you can't pretend you're somebody you're not." O'Keefe replied, in part: "I lied about who I was, but 60 Minutes used to lie about what they did. NBC's 'To Catch a Predator' did the same thing. These are tactics that journalists -- this is journalism in its purest form, and they've been using these tactics for years." Co-host Eric Bolling stated, "I'm all for this, you know, dressing up and catching them doing things that are frankly illegal, immoral and unethical."