DALLAS—Asked what he would say to real victims of sexual assault who may be upset that one of his Project Veritas operatives posed as someone who’d been sexually exploited by Roy Moore in a failed attempt to sting The Washington Post, James O’Keefe offered two words:
“No comment,” he told The Daily Beast after speaking to an audience of less than 100 people in an auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University Wednesday evening.
“No comment,” he said again when asked if Jaime Phillips, the woman who posed as Moore’s victim, was one of his operatives.
And asked if he gave credence to the Post’s reporting—prior to exposing his amateur sting operation—on the women who have accused Moore, the Republican running for U.S. Senate in Alabama of unwanted advances and worse when they were teens, O’Keefe repeated himself: “I have no comment on that.”
Those answers came after he’d regaled his mostly sympathetic audience with his greatest hits, and offered his philosophy, such as it is:
“We now understand that journalism is an activity, not an identity,” he said. “The establishment desperately needs to to limit the amount of people who are journalists in order to limit access to power.”
He offered the well-worn line that “the job of a journalist is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”
Except that, as Project Veritas’ latest tax filing shows, O’Keefe is well paid to work on behalf of the very comfortable.
During the question and answer session, one young supporter detailed his own affliction after he spoke out against homosexuality in high school and was “forced to undergo sensitivity training, and forced to read the biography of Harvey Milk, the homosexual mayor of San Francisco.” (Harvey Milk was never mayor of San Francisco.)
He asked O’Keefe: How to defend against this creeping secularism, this threat of leftism?
“Information,” said O’Keefe.
He presented himself as the provider of the secrets people want hidden, beginning with a hidden camera video in which he tried to fool a Rutgers University administrator into believing he wanted Lucky Charms cereal banned from campus because they were an insult to the Irish. After that he went through several more such “stings,” before saying he didn’t have time to show the results of his “undercover journalism” investigation into The Washington Post, though he did say it was getting him a lot of attention on Twitter.
Then, despite the lack of time, he showed a video in which a Democratic operative talked about paying people to disrupt Trump rallies, and then a video of Sean Hannity interviewing Donald Trump Jr. at a presidential debate while narrating for the audience the behind-the-scenes story of how he ended up on television that night.
But while O’Keefe went on about his proximity to people with fame and power, his stunt journalism has little to do with the often lonely, grinding work of actual investigative journalists who sit for hours on end reading, researching, creating spreadsheets, reaching out to sources, fact-checking those sources’ claims and questioning their own conclusions to ensure objectivity and fairness.
O’Keefe, though, talked not about research or reporting but about being there when the Fox News host asked Trump Jr. about the tape of the Democratic operatives. He even highlighted his face to be sure the SMU audience could see him in the clip. Then came his moment: “There’s James O’Keefe right there,” Hannity said to Trump Jr.
And there O’Keefe was, walking into the frame and in front of Fox News’ national audience as his audience at SMU laughed.
O’Keefe didn’t laugh. He smiled, and said: “That’s one way to get on television!”