Last year, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles made headlines and became heroes to conservative activists with their ACORN sting operation. O’Keefe (dressed as a pimp) and Giles (dressed as a hooker) found ACORN employees seemingly willing to facilitate shady dealings. The resulting uproar led to the demise of ACORN, at least as it then stood.
Since then, O’Keefe’s taken on the media, teachers’ unions, and the Census Bureau. After one botched stunt, O’Keefe was charged with (and later cleared of) trying to tap the phones in one of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Louisiana offices. Most recently, he landed in hot water after he was accused of planning to seduce a CNN correspondent on a hidden camera — a charge O’Keefe denies.
O’Keefe recently agreed to answer 5 questions from The Daily Caller on his beliefs, his past, and his future:
1. Do you consider yourself an activist or a journalist? Can someone be both?
All good investigative journalism is adversarial. To not be an adversarial journalist is to be an activist for the subject you are supposed to be investigating. For example, reporters writing down what government officials say to them at press conferences isn’t journalism, it’s stenography. The NJ Star-Ledger rushing to call taped comments made by NJEA Associate Director Wayne Dibfosky “unsubstantiated” is not journalism, it’s damage control. The New York Times not assigning a reporter to the ACORN scandal until after the Congress defunds the organization isn’t journalism, it’s news suppression. The Washington Post running a front page headline proclaiming I wiretapped Senator Mary Landrieu is not journalism, it’s lying. Politico e-mailed dozens of “conservatives” in order to get two that criticized me, but wouldn’t disclose the others who would not. Is that journalism?
2. Do you have role models? If so, whom?
My grandfather; he could build something out of nothing.
G.K. Chesterton; his intellect, journalism, personality.
3. Is there someone on the political scene you would like to see run for president in 2012?
I would prefer to see the nation’s great leaders working at the grassroots level – I think you have greater liberty to affect social change outside of running for office.