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Monday, October 4, 2010

James O'Keefe and the Politics of Association

Oct 4th, 2010

by F. Grey Parker

James O'Keefe has finally gone too far. His attempt to "punk" a female journalist from CNN by luring her to a secluded location, sexually harassing her and trying to make her cry was exposed last week. 

You can't make this up. Unlike the way O'Keefe has targeted his ideological enemies, we don't have to invent controversy.

Why this story shouldn't go away goes beyond his actions alone. His previous tactics have been consistently ignored or even excused by his sponsors. The lionization of his so-called "citizen journalism" deserves greater scrutiny now.

Not since the Fifties has a right wing campaign against other Americans relied so heavily on the assumption of guilt by association. The argument that because you know or once had referenced someone with outsider views means you that are not to be trusted has become a staple of the right's new-media campaign to smear a sitting president. That is Glenn Beck's primary theme, in fact. 

Having criticized this reactionary meme, allow me to now play Devil's advocate. As they say, what's good for the goose... 

Defending James O'Keefe's previous work, Rush Limbaugh said, "O'Keefe believes that in taking on the left, it's simply not enough to call attention to them and act outraged and try to get other people outraged.  What you have to do is to get them to act out who they are because they hide who they are."

How about now, Rush? Do you think Mr. O'Keefe was legitimately trying to expose that CNN's Abbie Boudreau is some sort of nymphomaniac dildo junkie who likes being cornered by a man wielding a condom jar?

He has been cheered by Hannity, Hewitt, Malkin, Savage and on and on. 

In the wake of the current scandal, O'Keefe's most strident patron, Andrew Breitbart, has suddenly had too much:

"I proudly stood behind James O’Keefe on his groundbreaking ACORN investigation. I also defended him when the media, including CNN — during a previous regime, “the Rick Sanchez era” — falsely reported the Sen. Mary Landrieu story as a “wiretapping” plot gone wrong.
In all these cases the left-leaning media exposed its obvious bias against James because of his contrarian point of view and because the targets of his investigations are protected institutions of the Democrat Media Complex.
However, in my dealings with Ms. Boudreau, she and her producer, Scott Zamost, conducted themselves professionally, and I believe James owes them a candid and public explanation.
From what I’ve read about this script, though not executed, it is patently gross and offensive. It’s not his detractors to whom he also owes this public airing. It’s to his legion of supporters."

With all due respect, Andy, this is a pretty poor rebuke. It certainly is an attempt to cover your own ass. 

Today, Breitbart gave web space for a comment on the matter from O'Keefe. Not only is it not an apology, it's also an attempt to pass the buck. He clearly doesn't actually see anything wrong with what he put in motion. The money quote:

"I’ll admit that I liked the basic absurdity of meeting Abbie Boudreau on a boat and the idea of counter-seduction satire executed in a tame, humorous, non-threatening manner. After all, as all liberal reporters do, she was trying to “seduce” (a metaphor) me so she could get more for her story. It would be fun, I thought, to turn the tables in jest."

The comments beneath O'Keefe's post are as revolting as they are revealing. His supporters don't care what he does. Their hate is so palpable that no tactic seems to bother them... as long as the target isn't one of them.

So many conservative pundits have been O'Keefed. In fact, they have O'Keefe all over them.

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