If shoulder shrugs and eye rolls were audible, that's the cacophony of sound you would have heard bouncing across the political blogosphere on Tuesday and Wednesday after James O'Keefe and his online mentor, Andrew Breitbart, launched their latest, and wildly hyped, undercover video gotcha campaign. O'Keefe -- freshly minted as an admitted criminal in the great state of Louisiana -- along with Breitbart, seem to be trying desperately to prove they're not the Milli Vanilli of online journalism -- one-hit wonders who lucked into a big-media hit with their ACORN crusade eight months ago. (And yes, like the lip-syncing Milli Vanilli, it turned out O'Keefe and Breitbart's lone hit had been doctored in the studio.)
Partisan activists and dedicated right-wing fans alike seem especially focused on trying to salvage O'Keefe's reputation so that his future endeavors will be taken seriously by those outside the anti-Obama echo chamber. But that's not small task, considering O'Keefe was revealed as the perpetrator of the now-famous ACORN pimp hoax. In fact, according to Breitbart, it was O'Keefe who duped his mentor, causing Breitbart to later concede he had no idea what was on O'Keefe's ACORN tapes. (Ugh.)
In fact, no less than four independent reviews of the ACORN scheme concluded that the videos showed no criminality on the part of low-level ACORN workers, but the tapes did raise questions about the misleading way their were edited and presented. (i.e. Scenes were "taken out of context," and edited "substantially" in order to push an agenda.)
And it was O'Keefe the GOP prankster, along with his right-wing pals, who played dress-up in January and hatched the brilliant idea of entering a federal building under false pretenses in order to secretly videotape staffers in the office of the U.S. senator's office, and then request access to the office's central phone line. A Louisiana judge declared that the actions of O'Keefe and his cohorts were "unconscionable," "nefarious" and "potentially dangerous." For that adventure, O'Keefe was ordered to pay the state of Louisiana $1,500 and perform 100 hours of community service.
So, yes, O'Keefe's reputation is in desperate need of some repair. But judging from the nap-inducing undercover effort he put forward this week, that repair work may be beyond the likes of Breitbart and a handful of sycophantic bloggers.
And for now, it sure looks that one-hit-wonder tag is a keeper.
Read the full Media Matters column, here.
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