I knew he’d done it. All I had to do was prove it. Now I can.
Remember James Rainey? He’s the hapless L.A. Times columnist who told his readers that an L.A. ACORN worker had refused to help Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe with an underage prostitution ring. Trouble is, Rainey never contacted Giles or O’Keefe to verify the story. And when we learned that the ACORN worker had been eager to help Giles and O’Keefe, Rainey got enough egg on his face to make omelettes for a platoon of haughty Frenchmen.
Stung to the quick, Rainey wrote an ass-covering column that minimized his error, and said the following about O’Keefe:
So what sort of creature does this make O’Keefe? I don’t disagree with his observation in a previous interview with The Times that he follows the mold of filmmaker Michael Moore, using confrontation to get at his version of the truth.
O’Keefe adamantly denied this quote to me, calling it a “complete fabrication.” He told me that it was possible that he had mentioned Michael Moore in an interview with an L.A. Times reporter, But O’Keefe strongly denied telling anyone that he “follow[ed] the mold” of Moore, or that he “us[ed] confrontation to get at his version of the truth.” O’Keefe told me that he believed this alleged quote bordered on defamation, as Moore uses deceptive editing techniques to push his agenda, while O’Keefe does not.
I tracked down the original quote — and it appears James Rainey put a few words in James O’Keefe’s mouth. Here is what O’Keefe actually said, according to reporter Robin Abcarian:
I am in NY and trying to do these videos full time. A lot of them are undercover. Veritas Visuals, I can show you some links, did some investigation for right.org, a parody up on YouTube. I want to be the conservative version of Michael Moore and Jon Stewart and Jackass and Trigger Happy TV. Combine those elements to promote the conservative agenda thru those means.
Rainey’s version unfairly rewrites the actual quote. O’Keefe never actually said that he “follows the mold” of Michael Moore to “us[e] confrontation to get at his version of the truth.” Rainey made it sound like O’Keefe admitted seeking something less than the full truth. But O’Keefe told me that he seeks the full truth and resents Rainey’s false implication that he admitted otherwise.
I asked O’Keefe why he mentioned Michael Moore and the others. He explained:
Michael Moore’s documentary films do a good job of interlacing music and b-roll in between interviews to tell a vivid story. Jon Stewart’s correspondents ask facetious or outrageous questions of interviewees. Jackass uses the shock factor, and Trigger Happy TV’s short videos are viral and entertaining.
My investigative videos do not “follow the mold” of Michael Moore’s distortions any more than they “follow the mold” of Jackass’s throwing oneself down stairs in a shopping cart. I meant to admire some of the qualities — cinematography and shock value, respectively — of each.
Rainey’s quote is not a fair paraphrase of O’Keefe’s words. It’s not what O’Keefe said, and it’s not what he meant. It’s a fabrication, pure and simple.
James Rainey put words in James O’Keefe’s mouth. He owes James O’Keefe a correction.