Why Would Anyone Trust What O'Keefe Says About His NPR Video?

Conservative activist James O'Keefe has released a video purporting to show an NPR executive making inflammatory comments to two people posing as members of a “Muslim Brotherhood front group.” As has been the case in the past, conservative media outlets and blogs are hyping O'Keefe's video.

It's not clear why anyone would believe anything that O'Keefe says about what is seen in the video.

  • O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge for entering Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in New Orleans under false pretenses.
  • O'Keefe falsely claimed that his ACORN tapes were a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” that implicated many ACORN employees. In at least six of the eight heavily edited videos, either the activists did not clearly tell the ACORN employees that they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit.
  • Three separate investigations cleared ACORN workers of criminal wrongdoing, and a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that O'Keefe's surreptitious videotaping may have broken laws in California and Maryland.
  • O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart withheld an exculpatory ACORN video from Los Angeles for two months in late 2009, during the height of the ACORN frenzy.
  • A September 18, 2009, New York Times article reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O'Keefe's while at Rutgers University, said she “grew disillusioned” after O'Keefe asked Farkas to help deceptively “edit the script” of a video involving a nurse at the University of California at Los Angeles.
  • In a 10-minute video posted on BigGovernment.com in June 2010, O'Keefe stated that he had been hired as a Census worker and attended two days of training. He said, “What I found were Census supervisors systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” The video includes clips of census leaders, who according to O'Keefe, “didn't seem to have a problem with the discrepancy” of the hours recorded on his time sheet versus the hours he claimed to have worked. O'Keefe omitted a clip that was later aired by ABC, which shows a census leader emphasizing the importance of accurately reporting on miles driven by census enumerators.
  • O'Keefe reportedly planned to “seduce” and publically humiliate CNN investigative reporter Abbie Bourdeau. In an article posted at CNN.com, Bourdeau reported that when she arrived for an interview with O'Keefe, she was informed by O'Keefe's colleague Izzy Santa that O'Keefe planned to lure her aboard a boat where he would secretly record his attempts to “hit on her” using “strawberries and champagne.” Boudreau reported that a document she obtained suggested O'Keefe would also use props including a “condom jar,” Viagra, pornography, a ceiling mirror, and “fuzzy handcuffs.” The document explained the motivation: “The joke is that the tables have turned on CNN. Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.” O'Keefe later claimed that he had been “repulsed” by the scenario laid out in the document when it was presented to him, and that it did not represent his actual plan for the interview.

Given his record of systematically misleading people about his videos and his use of other dishonest tactics, it makes no sense for people to take him at his word. That should be kept in mind as details emerge about what, exactly, happened.