Fraudulent right wing filmmaker James O’Keefe is very, very upset that the Customs and Border Patrol has started giving him special attention. Whenever he flies in and out of the country nowadays, instead of treating him like a regular member of the 1% they ask him all sorts of questions and stuff! Apparently, when O’Keefe ‘stung’ CBP with his ridiculous Mexican border stunt, in which he acted like a caveman gawking at the infrastructure and splashed through the water in a bin Laden mask before pretending to walk six miles in wet shoes, they didn’t think it was funny.
Breaking the story with his usual paranoid flair a couple of weeks ago, O’Keefe’s complaint got friendly coverage from conservative websites largely because one of the CBP employees asked him about Donald Trump. Of course, the agency was probably worried that O’Keefe was actively engaged in a sting at that very moment — a not-unrealistic suspicion that does in fact justify special attention. And if you are supposed to keep the world’s most infamous hoax filmmaker occupied while you search his luggage for hidden cameras, fake bombs, and gun blanks, what else should you talk about, other than current events? The weather?
Six years have passed since O’Keefe lynched an uppity black organization called ACORN by dressing like a law student and then pretending he had worn a pimp outfit. O’Keefe’s sophomore effort to that libelous race-and-sex charged sensation infamously blew up in his face at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office, following which disaster there was his rapetastic attempt to lure Abbie Boudreau into a hot date on a boat, after which he allegedly attempted to rape Nadia Naffe in his barn. And whereas the ACORN contrivance worked, passing without critical analysis from the Breitbart fringe to Fox News to the media mainstream and turning into actual federal legislation before anyone seemed to understand what it really was, awareness of O’Keefe’s style and methods has slowly spread throughout the body politic. It is no longer that easy for the self-discredited mountebank to turn his ‘social welfare nonprofit’ money into successful stings, and non-conservative media is much more critical of his ‘successes.’ Sure, he’s turned NPR into a new Koch propaganda outlet and managed to embarrass a few nobodies, but the people who make the editorial calls that count are wiser to O’Keefe’s antics than they used to be. So are the potential victims.
That trend was visible last May when O’Keefe’s attempt to sting Hollywood environmentalists resulted in a fracking blowback, as Gasland director Josh Fox made the flimflammer look like a schmuck. It continued last Friday with word from the Clinton campaign in Iowa that several apparent sting attempts had been foiled, with a known O’Keefe apprentice identified on the scene. As I keep saying, if you think you are being punked by James O’Keefe, you probably are, and that word seems to have gotten around at least one campaign. it will be interesting to see if O’Keefe does the same for Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, and how well their teams handle it.
But O’Keefe is no longer the only video frame-up artist in the picture anymore. His friend David Daleiden has burst on the hoaxing scene this Summer with a series of ‘investigative’ videos that turn out to be much less than he pretends, of course, but in the eyes of Michelle Malkin’s bloggers, the student has overshadowed the master:
I’ve yet to get too carried away with “sting” operations where the activist seems to be looking to entrap some witless volunteer or back bencher who might not know all the rules with tempting offers. I’m far more of a fan of undercover work which simply reveals people engaged in the illicit activity which is suspected. For one example, the Planned Parenthood videos weren’t entrapping anyone, simply offering the opportunity to them to make a pitch and try to score some money if they wished. At that point you give them enough rope and… well, you know the rest.
In fact, the very phrase ‘James O’Keefe-style videos’ made rapid debunking of the Planned Parenthood fraud much easier; his very name is now shorthand for false pretenses and deceptive editing. Furthermore, second thoughts about the runaway nature of the ACORN story seem to have had a delayed impact, for Planned Parenthood is proving far more aggressive and successful in their defense, with predictable results. Daleiden’s campaign of truth-destruction has already resulted in one lawsuit against his sketchy ‘Center for Medical Progress,’ with more litigation probably on the way, while the organization has wasted no time in countering a defunding campaign by Republican governors.
Thus, O’Keefe may have opened a new chapter in the history of the American paranoid style, but he has also stimulated the very responses which can neuter such efforts and render them impotent. And along the way, he’s managed to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with him, or with anyone connected to him, assumes the worst from now on.
James O’Keefe is someone who, through luck rather than ability, managed to claw his way into the public eye. He’s a one-hit wonder, someone who managed to catch lightning in a bottle once and who keeps repeating the same formula in hopes that it’ll work again.
It won’t, at least in part because others have started using the same formula. And because they’re all using the same formula, it’s easier for their targets to respond quickly and appropriately.
Luckily, these are not particularly clever people, so the formula isn’t likely to change for a very long time.