James O’Keefe’s latest project, “To Catch a Journalist” is trying to uncover the seamy underside of the liberal media, and he’s made two shocking discoveries:
- There’s a DC journalist who goes out to have drinks with his sources. (Sam Stein)
- Two academics leading to a seminar at NYU like the New York Times and think Michele Bachmann is crazy. (Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky)
Neither of these yawners has gotten any traction — the only reason I know anything about them is because I follow Rosen on the Twitter and he wrote a post explaining how one of O’Keefe’s operatives was able to sit in on his seminar. Rosen argues that O’Keefe is a terrorist in precisely one way:
Occasionally I will hear someone exasperated at his tactics describe O’Keefe as a kind of terrorist. This is not wise and it’s not true. He doesn’t use violence; he’s an “entrapment journalist,” as Steve Meyers of Poynter put it. But having been targeted, I can see one thing in his methods that is akin to terrorism.
As I said, when someone asks to sit it on my class, I say “come on in.” But my students are now shocked and angry that their learning environment has been invaded by a trickster like O’Keefe. I need to prevent that from happening again. But the only way I can do so is by closing my classroom to all outsiders, or by looking into the background, motivations and character of potential visitors, which is creepy and offensive. O’Keefe has struck at a pedagogical strength–the openness of my classroom–and changed it into a weakness. In that precise sense, and no other, he is like a terrorist.
That’s not quite right. The second way that O’Keefe is like a terrorist is that his tactics are calculated to provoke an over-reaction from the target. That’s how he was successful in ousting the CEO of NPR over something a fundraiser said in an unguarded moment. If NPR had acted the way that Rosen and Stein do in this case, their nontroversy would have blown over. Instead, NPR’s duck and cover gave O’Keefe credibility and a reason to raise more money from conservative backers.