by Aaron Warner
James O’Keefe, founder and director of Project Veritas, vividly described the problem of fake news and today’s anemic journalism at Dartmouth College Wednesday night.
Project Veritas (PV) is a corruption watchdog organization now famous for targeting Big Tech, Big Pharma and the political left’s favored organizations such as ACORN, Planned Parenthood, Teacher’s Unions and CNN. His recent book American Muckraker ranks #6 on Amazon’s Professional Responsibility & Law Ethics list.
His physical reception was an eager crowd of thirty or forty people who arrived early, with the Filene Auditorium at Moore Hall swelling to a hundred people there to meet this polarizing avatar of modern journalism. O’Keefe, despite his critics’ claims of “deceptive and selective editing,” brought with him many of the now famous videos Project Veritas has released over the years to become one of the most feared and hated watchdog groups in America.
Always one to confront his critics head on, O’Keefe took Kyle Mullins, a senior and editor of the student newspaper The Dartmouth, to task as an example of the problem with journalism as it’s practiced by those who cant left. Mullins’ article warning the Dartmouth student body about O’Keefe, reads like the introduction to PV’s Wikipedia page which likewise characterizes O’Keefe as using “deceptive” and “selective” editing, while also bemoaning their use of hidden cameras and undercover operatives who capture their desired targets confessing newsworthy things such as voter fraud, conspiracy to commit a crime, protecting predators in schools, etc..
Mullins seems to write more from the angle of tribalism than journalism.
O’Keefe’s first rebuttal is to the term “selective editing” which he explains is the very nature of editing. Editing is the process of selecting what will stay and what will not. Mullins, this evening’s mouthpiece for the left, uses this term as if to ascribe motive to O’Keefe who turns it around on Mullins by spending the next forty-five minutes showing videos Mullins selectively edited out of his articles claims about O’Keefe.
Were anti-CRT expert James Lindsay in attendance he would have called this “the iron law of woke projection.”
The integrity of PV is what’s called into question by its detractors, and at times they have miss-stepped and violated laws or individual’s rights and paid the price quite literally. O’Keefe even acknowledges as much, and one gets the sense that his passion has gotten out front of his prudence in his race to keep the powerful and corrupt in public view. Though their Wikipedia entries are blatantly written to denounce PV and O’Keefe, they can’t help but concede the resultant successes in raising awareness where it’s needed – the public eye.
This is the true calling of journalism and O’Keefe remains committed to it. He laments the weak kneed and supine positioning of much of today’s media, both institutional and individual, who shirk their professional obligation to keep the powerful to account. Simply put, he blames the commercial nature of the business of journalism. “Brought to you by Pfizer” he repeats ad nauseum to make the point. The question remains – where have all the cowboy journalists gone?
One has to wonder if the Dartmouth editor Kyle Mullins has taken the time to watch any of Project Veritas’ videos. It’s one thing to read press pieces and Wikipedia entries written by persons hostile to Project Veritas and their mission. That is the journalistic equivalent of asking the fox to tell you its thoughts on the farmer’s dog.
The videos, edited by necessity, still aren’t capable of hiding bold statements by those committing the crimes plain to the naked eye. One would have to be delusional to watch someone like Texas ballot harvester Raquel Rodriguez stating multiple times what she is doing is “against the law” and believe Project Veritas is guilty of maliciously editing her story. However if you read the Wikipedia entry they summarize it thus:
“On 13 January 2021, Raquel Rodriguez, a former campaign worker was arrested and charged with election tampering, after Project Veritas posted an edited video of the woman, in which she appears to be helping an elderly person fill out a mail-in ballot form and discussing assisting people at the polls. Rodriguez stated that she is the biological niece of the woman she is seen on video with, and has moved to have charges dismissed on the grounds that it is not unlawful to help relatives vote.”
This is deceptive editing, and why Wikipedia, which touts itself as authoritative by dint of its numerous citations, is maligned among those who adhere to the truth. Yet there is little difference between Mr. Mullin’s piece on O’Keefe and the Wiki entry. Both take a negative view of Project Veritas and exhibit obvious bias. Mullins takes it a step further and predicts how O’Keefe’s visit to Dartmouth will go, rife with protests, dramatic displays from the audience, and conservative spun videos offering a victimhood angle to the host Republicans. How did Mullins do on his prophecy? He batted a solid .000.
Which illustrates the trenchant problem with today’s news reporting. It is full of assumptions and biases where facts are subservient to feelings and the meatier matters are replaced by a Bill Gates like meat substitute and for the purpose of protecting those who fund fact-checkers like Mr. Microsoft.
Mullins’ piece on O’Keefe may have been well written but that doesn’t make it good journalism, because it fails to rise the level of thoroughness. Like O’Keefe pointed out, the Dartmouth editor inserts his opinion as fact and selectively chooses which Project Veritas stories to highlight for maximum denigration.
One of the broader points O’Keefe is there to make is his concern, shared by many, that our nation is sinking into an Orwellian state of being. The irony being both Mullins and O’Keefe share this perception however Mullins seems to believe O’Keefe is guilty of working for the Ministry of Truth and vice versa. This double-think among journalists is yet another feature of O’Keefe’s message and captured in his “selectively” edited interview by PV attorney’s of Democracy Partner’ Lauren Windsor who objects to their characterization of her editing, only to admit she edited the video to promote a given narrative.
Orwell’s 1984 warns ominously of the primary goal of “the Party” to intimidate the people into denying reality. He wrote: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Like Orwell, O’Keefe is a voice crying in the desert – which is the translation of the Dartmouth motto, “Vox Clamantis In Desert.” Despite Mullins’ polemic against James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, the evidence remains. Rather than accept the party line, as trotted out by the Dartmouth newspaper, this journalist recommends you go to the Project Veritas website and see for yourself. It’s up to you if you want to deny the reality captured on film by these undercover journalists.