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As Exhibit A, look at James O’Keefe, who famously and proudly passed off his partner as a prostitute while secretly videotaping ACORN staffers.Who in the debate over O’Keefe’s work took the position that because the colleague was not actually a prostitute, the entire project was unethical and therefore all of his videotapes should be ignored?The framing and style of videos created by James O’Keefe is well known due to his 2009 “sting” in which he and accomplice Hannah Giles visited ACORN offices and pretended to be seeking advice on how to run an illegal business that included the use of underage girls in the sex trade.The resulting videos — which were edited to create the impression that O’Keefe and Giles had spoken to ACORN representatives while dressed as a pimp and prostitute — dealt that organization a mortal blow before reports publicizing the deception in O’Keefe’s videos came to light: How quickly things seem to fall apart when James O’Keefe is the person who put them together.
Nearly all the videos used stitched-together, out-of-context remarks with no indication of what occurred or what was discussed just before and after the included portions.That article noted that the time-consuming nature of fact-checking (particularly when source material is obscured) has led to Project Veritas efforts skating past cursory review: From where might we have learned such a lesson? Think ACORN and think Shirley Sherrod: job- and organization-crippling scandals in which the media blindly aided and abetted.Note too that O’Keefe is a political point-scorer, and here he is scoring from a soft-target.After his fraudulent ACORN videos, the lesson media should have learned about right-wing “citizen journalist” James O’Keefe is not to trust him.But they didn’t, so here we are with his NPR stunt, which allegedly shows NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller saying mean things about the Tea Party in a meeting with phony Muslim Brotherhood-connected donors. It’s not quite a Shirley Sherrod moment — where the right-wing video was edited to totally turn her message around — but it’s clear that things aren’t exactly what they first seemed.