The Daily Caller: Who or what motivates you to do the investigative work you do?
James O’Keefe: Injustice in society, imbalance in society and a lack of media not doing the job. A lot of people come to me telling me they’re passionate about exposing certain things, and I want to train them to do it.
TheDC: Why should people of all political beliefs trust you?
O’Keefe: Because the footage speaks for itself and because I’ve released the full uncut, unedited footage. And it has prompted government reaction. The New York Times Magazine did a great piece the other day where they went through all the unedited tapes and said nothing is taken out of context. The president and Congress have reacted. Everyone who has seen these videos is outraged by them.
TheDC: Are you a journalist, an activist, or both?
O’Keefe: It doesn’t really matter what you label it; it is exposing things for what they are. That’s what it is. I think that most journalists today are either pundits or stenographers. They don’t actually do digging. They don’t actually do muckraking. So I think journalism probably defines what we do.
TheDC: Do you think it’s possible for someone who has been trained in a journalism school to go out and do the work you’re doing?
O’Keefe: I don’t think they teach this in journalism school. I’ve experienced a guy at [New York University], Jay something or other, who, all he does is criticize me. [O’Keefe’s talking about Jay Rosen.] My response to him the other day on Twitter was “Professor, what does it say about your profession that it takes 22-year-olds to launch multiple Medicaid investigations in Ohio and we’ve got [attorneys general] investigating Ohio Medicaid fraud and South Carolina Medicaid fraud and Virginia Medicaid fraud. Where are your journalism students doing this? Why does it take 22-year-olds to do it? That’s the state of journalism today.
TheDC: What’s the goal with your nonprofit Project Veritas?
O’Keefe: To investigate and expose waste, fraud, abuse, dishonesty, corruption in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.
TheDC: Who helps fund you?
O’Keefe: Small donors that send us money on the Internet, small donors that send us money through direct mail and people who send us checks to our P.O. box.
TheDC: Do you ever feel sketchy about the undercover work you’re doing?
O’Keefe: Do you feel sketchy about the undercover work that ABC News Primetime Nightline and Diane Sawyer did and the work that Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes did and the undercover work that NBC’s Dateline did to catch a predator and that won Emmy Awards and Peabody Awards? There’s no distinction between what I do and they do except that I release the full, unedited tapes. They don’t.
TheDC: Do you ever trust anything NPR says?
O’Keefe: It’s not that I don’t trust them. But if they are firing people because they disagree with their opinions [he’s referring to the ousting of commentator Juan Williams for comments about Muslims that some saw as intolerant], that is probably something that is wrong. But I don’t have any political problems with the subjects. If they are getting taxpayer money, millions and millions and millions of dollars worth, we deserve to know what these editors and people are thinking about the American people. We’re trying to expose that.