My new column for The Week looks at the latest embarrassing stunt from conservative activist James O’Keefe.
How often do you read the word “dildo” in a CNN story? If you have not followed today’s media convulsion, you must really read the whole thing.
Regardless, here’s a summary: “A conservative activist known for making undercover videos plotted to embarrass a CNN correspondent by recording a meeting on hidden cameras aboard a floating ‘palace of pleasure’ and making sexually suggestive comments, e-mails and a planning document show.
“James O’Keefe, best known for hitting the community organizing group ACORN with an undercover video sting, hoped to get CNN Investigative Correspondent Abbie Boudreau onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session, those documents show.” (Among the props was the previously mentioned dildo.)
O’Keefe’s latest brainstorm went awry, however, when an embarrassed confederate gave away the plan to Boudreau. CNN then obtained copies of emails confirming the zany details, including O’Keefe’s hope of seducing Boudreau by plying her with strawberries and champagne. It’s like a scene out of some horrible Austin Powers sequel.
It’s a funny story, in a way. But it contains some serious elements too, worth thinking about
• James O’Keefe is obviously a loose cannon—or worse. Before his Lothario stunt, he was arrested for attempting to plant electronic eavesdropping equipment in the Louisiana office of U.S. Senator Mayor Landrieu. His videotapes of ACORN employees offering him pimping advice have been exposed as deceptively edited.
Yet even so, O’Keefe remains a hero to many in the conservative movement. He can raise money, fill a hall at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), and count on a friendly reception from Fox News and talk radio.
For O’Keefe, politics is a form of war, waged without rule or limit. That would not matter much if he were one lone attention-seeker. But O’Keefe is not alone. Some conservative leaders have honorably repudiated O’Keefe’s latest gambit. Special praise here for Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a watchdog group. But if the “politics is war” attitude persists, these episodes will recur.
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