The first of a series of October Surprise videos from conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe hit the internet on Monday, claiming to show Democrats hiring provocateurs to incite violence at some Donald Trump’s rallies.
But while the video was envisioned as a major strike against Hillary Clinton and her associated Democratic operatives, it was met with collective silence from the mainstream media, much to the consternation of conservatives.
The video was released early on Monday from O’Keefe’s Project Veritas and quickly racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube. It also garnered some coverage among right-leaning news outlets including Breitbart, the site that helped launch O’Keefe’s career with his 2009 video claiming to show widespread abuse at ACORN.
As Breitbart noted, the allegations made in O’Keefe’s videos were very serious.
“O’Keefe’s extensive video investigation reveals that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are involved in ‘bird-dogging’ and other provocative tactics through a web of consultants led by Robert Creamer, a veteran Chicago activist and convicted felon who is thought to have planned Democrats’ political strategy during the push for Obamacare in 2009 and 2010.”
The video came after weeks of anticipation, with the controversial prankster promising to release a number of videos he claimed would sink Clinton. O’Keefe said the video released Monday was the result of a year-long investigation that infiltrated many levels of the Clinton campaign, “from the bottom all the way to the White House.”
The video featured a series of undercover interviews in which operatives working closely and sometimes alongside the Clinton campaign appeared to admit to stirring up violence. One interview, with Scott Foval of consulting group Democracy Partners, appeared to outline the strategy that stirred up violence at political events.
“FOVAL: You remember the Iowa State Fair thing where Scott Walker grabbed the sign out of the dude’s hand and then the dude gets kind of roughed up right in front of the stage right there on camera?
“Project Veritas reporter: Yeah.
“FOVAL: That was all us. The guy that got roughed up is my counterpart, who works for Bob [Creamer].
“PV: And that was like, storyboarded? Him getting roughed up like that?
“FOVAL: We scenarioed it.”
The full video from James O’Keefe can be seen below.
Despite appearing to show what could be illegal activity, the October Surprise from James O’Keefe and Project Veritas earned very little coverage across media outlets. Outside of Breitbart‘s story, the video was covered only among a handful of small, mostly right-leaning news outlets by late afternoon on Monday. There was no coverage from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or among the nation’s largest newspapers.
The reason could be in part because of the sheer volume of O’Keefe’s release. The video runs more than 16 minutes and has a number of interviews. Verifying the authenticity could take days or more.
But the more likely answer is in James O’Keefe himself. The conservative filmmaker has gained a reputation for videos that appear politically damning on their face but turn out to be deceptively edited — or even outright falsified. O’Keefe’s signature project has been his 2009 video claiming to show employees at the community activist group ACORN advising a pimp in how to apply for benefits and grant funding while concealing his sex trafficking.
The videos led to a congressional backlash against ACORN and moves to de-fund the organization, but months later the full and unedited video revealed that the expose was a case of deception. O’Keefe failed to show ACORN workers acting appropriately when faced with the fake pimp, and ultimately he paid a $100,000 settlement to ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera, who was fired as a result.
As Think Progress noted, it was not the only time James O’Keefe used deception in a political hit piece.
“O’Keefe’s other videos have been exposed as either complete lies or deceptively edited. ThinkProgress reported last year that O’Keefe’s attempt to expose voter fraud by non-citizens actually featured US citizens. The conservative activist has also been arrested for trying to bug a Senator’s phone. In his ACORN pimp sting, O’Keefe deceptively edited in the famous pimp costume later, though he actually wore a suit and tie at the ACORN office.”
The checkered reputation of James O’Keefe is likely the reason for the media blackout on his alleged October Surprise, as major news organizations burned in their straightforward coverage of the ACORN videos are wary of being taken again in his latest video.
There have been calls for James O’Keefe to release the full and unedited videos from his latest October Surprise to assuage their fears, but it is not clear if Project Veritas plans to do so. But the media blackout seems to be doing little to slow the filmmaker — O’Keefe has promised to release more undercover videos highlighting misbehavior from the Hillary Clinton campaign.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]