James O'Keefe, the conservative activist known for manipulating the mainstream media by making undercover videos that helped destroy the progressive community group ACORN, plotted to humiliate CNN and its investigative journalist Abby Boudreau.
He planned to record a meeting using hidden cameras aboard a floating "palace of pleasure" where he would seduce Boudreau and make sexually suggestive comments, according to CNN.
O'Keefe, a convicted federal criminal, tried to lure Boudreau onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the sessions. CNN documents and interviews yesterday suggest that O'Keefe had secretly, and illegally, taped phone calls he had with Boudreau.
The incident, reported by CNN yesterday, occurred last August, when Boudreau agreed to meet O'Keefe to discuss CNN's request to be present on set for a music video shoot in which O'Keefe stars. Boudreau, an attractive blond reporter, had been attempting to interview O'Keefe as part of an upcoming documentary, Right on the Edge, covering activities of young, Rightwing activists like O'Keefe. CNN released the story yesterday to promote its documentary.
"I've been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is," O'Keefe planned to say in his undercover video with Boudreau. "They want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort.... Instead, I've decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I'm going to punk CNN. ... This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath."
AVOID MARVIN GAYE, TOO CLICHE
The following are a list of props O'Keefe planned to use during his seduction of Boudreau in the boat: condom jar, dildos, music (Alicia Keys, 80s romance songs, things that are typically James, (avoid Marvin Gaye as too cliché), lube, ceiling mirror, posters and paintings of naked women, playboys and pornographic magazines, candles, Viagra and stamina pills, fuzzy handcuffs, and blindfold.
O'Keefe secretly recorded a call, during which he asked Boudreau to meet with him in person and alone, and emailed it to his partner in the plan, Izzy Santa, and two other colleagues under the heading "Getting Closer." O'Keefe's scheme failed after Boudreau was tipped off to it just prior to her planned rendezvous with O'Keefe on the boat, by Santa who, says Boudreau, decided the scheme was a immoral.
O'Keefe may have again violated and conspired to violate Maryland's Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act with his attempt to "punk CNN." O'Keefe violated the very same law in Maryland when he illegally video taped ACORN's workers, though law enforcement officials have yet to prosecute him for his previous offense.
O'Keefe is currently on probation after pleading guilty to a federal misdemeanor following his scheme in Louisiana earlier this year.
This latest O'Keefe incident should encourage law enforcement officials to indict O'Keefe, and CNN to investigate its own inaccurate and insufficient reporting of the ACORN story.
As of yesterday CNN still can't get the story correct. Kyra Phillips, a CNN anchor and Boudreau suggested that last year, when O'Keefe taped ACORN, he entered ACORN's offices pretending to be a pimp. In fact, O'Keefe never posed as a pimp when he talked to ACORN staffers. He presented himself as a friend, or boyfriend, or a colleague of Giles, who was posing as the prostitute. O'Keefe wore a dress shirt and Khakis when he entered ACORN offices, and later spliced in shots of himself wearing the pimp outfit in the final videos to make it appear that he had worn them in the meetings with ACORN. To sensationalize the tape, O'Keefe dressed up in cartoonish pimp garb for the bumpers shown on television. The outlandish costume aimed to make ACORN's African-American intake staff look like buffoons.
As reported in my recent book, Seeds Of Change, The Story of Acorn, America's Most Controversial Anti-Poverty Community Group, CNN was one of the mainstream medial outlets that repeatedly ran inaccurate stories about ACORN's voter registration work, and frequently played O'Keefe's doctored videos smearing ACORN, without ever making a correction or reporting on the important job ACORN had done fighting poverty. By failing to reveal the deception of the ACORN tapes it was complicit in the tragic destruction of America's most effective anti-poverty organization, responsible for registering millions of young and low-income and minority voters and increasing the nation's minimum wage.
The media in the US, including CNN, owes ACORN an apology.
John Atlas's new book Seeds of Change, The Story of ACORN, America's Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, Vanderbilt University Press. Buy it at Amazon and Vanderbilt University Press or better yet at your local book store.