Patterico's Pontifications


The Atlantic, in Reporting on Libel of James O’Keefe, Libels James O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:37 pm

Sheesh. How hard is this?

Conservative video provocateur James O’Keefe filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Keith Olbermann, his Countdown guest host David Shuster, and their employer Current TV, for saying he’d been convicted of a felony and accused of rape. It must be infinitely frustrating to Shuster, who actually made the error, that he was close — O’Keefe has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony,” and accused of harassment. But that’s not what Shuster said.*

O’Keefe most certainly did not plead to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony.” On the contrary, as I have explained many times (most recently here), the U.S. Attorney conceded that there was no evidence that O’Keefe intended to tamper with the phone system or commit any felony. This is from a document signed by the U.S. Attorney:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

You’d think, when reporting on a libel suit where the defendant mischaracterized the plaintiff’s criminal record, you wouldn’t want to mischaracterize the plaintiff’s criminal record.

Wouldn’t you?

Were I The Atlantic, I would issue a very prompt and gracious apology and retraction. O’Keefe doesn’t really seem to be in the mood to be defamed without consequence these days.

UPDATE: A correction has been issued. H/t Dustin via email.

50 Responses to “The Atlantic, in Reporting on Libel of James O’Keefe, Libels James O’Keefe”

  1. I wouldn’t necessarily think a lawsuit over this would be a great idea, especially if they issue a quick and adequate apology and correction.

    Patterico (feda6b)

  2. Don’t hold your breath on the ‘gracious’ apology.

    As one of the commenters to the piece notes, it was a textbook example of media bias.

    The unflattering picture of O’Keefe. The label that he’s a conservative (ew!) and a provocateur, whereas the people who actually smeared him aren’t labeled at all. That they are liberals or provocative is deemed not relevant.

    And the author goes out of his way to note that Shuster’s libel “was close” to the truth, which is editorializing and also outrageously incorrect.

    For the record, I didn’t rip off this blog post in my comment on the piece… Great minds think alike.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  3. And SPQR was ahead of me too.

    It initially seems The Atlantic doesn’t read its own comments, but they did correct the “charged with a felony” claim, which appears to have been brought to their attention in the comments.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  4. I read the whole transcript again and the only thing I can see that might cause James any (fact based) trouble is the YT video for libel or something. Though it sounds like that was taken down pretty quickly.

    I guess you have to go to journalism school to read what these other people are reading.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  5. Pat:

    What do you want to bet that the potentially libelous language used by the Atlantic — “pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ‘with the intent to commit a felony,'” — was supplied by David Schuster himself, while the lapdog reporter comiserated with him over the phone.


    Dafydd the Snarker (632d00)

  6. [Cue the chorus to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”]

    Dafydd the Snarker (632d00)

  7. Patrick — its worse than you are saying.

    Its nonsensical to say he pled to a “misdemeanor ‘with the intent to commit a felony.'”

    The second part of that is the element which makes the crime charged A FELONY.

    Its the element of the offense that takes it from a misdemeanor (no intent to commit a felony therein) to a felony (intent to commit a felony therein).

    I think this is sometimes called a “wobbler” in state court.

    Basic federal criminal law — if you misrepresent yourself to enter a federal building that’s a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

    If you misrepresent yourself to enter and federal building with the intent to commit a felony therein, that is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

    The statement be US Attorney at sentencing made clear they uncovered no evidence to support the felony charge. It was made in order to make clear that they were not making any deal with O’Keefe — he was pleading guilty to the most serious offense that the evidence would support.

    shipwreckedcrew (2e6c61)

  8. Oh great . . . another juice box journalism major, this one working as a fact checker for The Atlantic, gets to go on funemployment.

    Meanwhile, the Justice Department is now looking into instigating an entirely new line of criminal prosecutions:
    Misdemeanor convictions for terror suspects that intended to kill Americans.

    Icy (7fc862)

  9. Well is this one of Sullivan’s former Kramerica interns, who likewise shared a misunderstanding
    of ‘human growth and development’

    narciso (87e966)

  10. Thanks for that info, SWC.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  11. It’s seems they have reading comprehension issues all through out the Atlantic;

    Yes they don’t mention the exoneration from the charges, Bairstow brought up earlier,

    narciso (87e966)

  12. As Raymond Donovan plaintively argued,’ where does
    one go to get their reputation back’

    narciso (87e966)

  13. O’Keefe’s going to have a hard time proving the required intent, at least for the people reporting on the story like this.

    Geoff (518b93)

  14. They lie as a matter of course, or they don’t know better, they cite the libel, first reported on the
    Jersey station, as proof of something,

    narciso (87e966)

  15. Not to insult anyone here, but after seeing the product that harvard law produced (he resides in the whitehouse)the value of a law degree, especially from that school, is seriously damaged. Given that, can we really expect anything BUT garbage from these people?

    J (2946f2)

  16. They have corrected:

    More clarification is in order, so let’s set O’Keefe’s record straight: He was originally arrested in January 2010 for “entering a federal building under false pretenses with the intent to commit a felony — itself a felony charge,” the New Orleans Times Picayune reported, but the charges were reduced to misdemeanors for simply “entering federal property under false pretenses,” per CBS. O’Keefe pleaded guilty in May 2010 and was sentenced to three years of probation, a fine of $1,500 and 100 hours of community service, the Times Picayune reported.

    But instead of admitting fault, they are merely “Clarifying”. No apology.

    The bare minimum after being dragged there.

    I also could nit pick about this part:

    The “rape” allusion comes from a complaint by fellow conservative activist Nadia Naffe

    Where in her complaint was there anything about rape? They are using sufficient weasel words that they probably can get the notion across but would refuse to correct this.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  17. Amen, J.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  18. Their reporting is not about truth and falsehood. It’s about creating an impression that won’t be dented by corrections – or languishing lawsuits.

    It’s generally understood in certain circles that O’Keefe is a criminal and shouldn’t be listened to. That’s how they hold their base, and that won’t ever change.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  19. “More clarification is in order, so let’s set O’Keefe’s record straight”

    Stupidity or a continued malicious intent to mislead by Adam Martin?

    The record is comprised of the court and police documents, not the characterizations of the records in a story or stories by credentialed, not educated, reporters published by the legacy media.

    It’s funny that in Martin’s setting the record “straight”, he wholly ignored the statement of the district attorney regarding the felonious aspect to the event provided by Patterico, and, instead, went for the newspaper stories best inferring a felony — which Martin was wrong about in his initial effort to continue the libeling of O’Keefe — was committed.

    The headline makes it appear the story will be a news report, but it’s moreso just a defense of Shuster’s libel.

    Dusty (fb2bcd)

  20. “O’Keefe’s going to have a hard time proving the required intent, at least for the people reporting on the story like this.”

    I don’t think so. David Shuster was disciplined in 2010 by MSNBC for making the same bogus charge in a tweet.!/SteveKrak/status/8284337570

    O’Keefe can easily show that Shuster knows full well that the charge is false, the fact that others described him as “giddy” over the charges can be used to demonstrate that repeatedly making a false allegation is out of malice.

    Eric (89bbcc)

  21. Good God.

    Andrew Breitbart has passed away.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  22. What a huge loss.

    The movement aside, he also had four children.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  23. RIP Andrew Breitbart.

    Daryl Herbert (e3159e)

  24. Only the good die young. Unbelievable. May he rest in peace.

    Colonel Haiku (b3b825)

  25. Die horror.

    Ed from SFV (f46ce8)

  26. It just goes to show, how inconsequential, all of this other stuff is, in the big picture, condolescences to his family,

    narciso (87e966)

  27. Very well said, Narciso.

    God bless his family and colleagues and may he rest in peace.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  28. OMG. Breitbart. How awful. I hope he knew how beloved he was.

    MayBee (081489)

  29. I know that all of us who admired his fortitude, his instincts… his enthusiasm and tenacity have to feel stunned at this news. Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

    Colonel Haiku (b3b825)

  30. His HONESTY!

    Colonel Haiku (b3b825)

  31. So far both FOX NEWS and Drudge are reporting Breitbart died of natural causes at age 43. He leaves a wife and 4 young children.

    ropelight (436971)

  32. unexpectedly from natural causes

    He wasn’t “young” young, and these things happen, but I certainly hope “Columbo” and “Monk” looking into it, “just to be sure”.

    Painted Jaguar (dictated to MD in Philly) (3d3f72)

  33. Wow. This post went up just before it happened.
    Patterico- xoxoxo

    MayBee (081489)

  34. My God. What could possibly be “natural causes” for any 43 year old? I was looking forward to having him standing up for what is right for decades to come.

    TomB (c8ee37)

  35. I put up a post.

    Patterico (feda6b)

  36. Breitbart was always shining a light on partisan ugliness, dishonesty, corruption, and sleaze.

    It’s in that spirit that I unfortunately have to say I’ve seen some stunning crowing at his loss. Already.

    This will surprise no reader here, but I wanted to note this.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  37. I was looking forward to having him standing up for what is right for decades to come.

    I was looking forward to seeing him tomorrow night.

    Patterico (feda6b)

  38. Forty-three is too young to die these days. May he rest in peace and my deepest sympathies to his family.

    nk (dec503)

  39. No, the Nazgul wraiths are always with us,

    narciso (87e966)

  40. My God. What could possibly be “natural causes” for any 43 year old? I was looking forward to having him standing up for what is right for decades to come.

    Comment by TomB — 3/1/2012 @ 6:43 am

    nk (dec503)

  41. Sorry, fat-finger syndrome. It’s not common, but early forties are a hurdle, not to say pitfall, for men. Going on perfectly fine and boom, heart attack or stroke.

    Jim Fixx (The Book of Running) is the case which I remember most.

    nk (dec503)

  42. Well you got a correction. Pity it’s dishonest:

    O’Keefe has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony,”

    Doubting Rich (cf2efa)

  43. I had a brother-in-law who died at 43 of a heart attack right after landing in Copenhagen. He died right in front of their emergency medical station. He, too, left 4 young children. These things, unfortunately, do happen. And they are devastating.

    Colonel Haiku (b3b825)

  44. Ooops, wrong cut-n-paste. Their dishonest correction reads:

    Previous correction: An earlier version of this story stated that O’Keefe had been accused of a felony when he was arrested in Landreiu’s office. That was inaccurate. He was accused of “entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony,”

    Doubting Rich (cf2efa)

  45. Breitbart

    I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.

    Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  46. oops. Wrong thread.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  47. The Atlantic’s correction tells you all you need to know about the trouble that Olby/Shuster/Current TV are in.

    Atlantic’s legal department immediately understood how the non-lawyers were screwing up what they were saying, and required them to update and correct the story.

    They are still technically wrong in claiming the “charges” were “reduced” to a misdemeanor. He was never “charged” with a felony so there was nothing to “reduce”. He was arrested based on a suspicion that he MIGHT have committed a felony, but the first charge filed against him was a misdemeanor and the prosecutor later publicly stated that no evidence was found that would have supported filing a felony.

    shipwreckedcrew (2e6c61)

  48. 43. I had a brother-in-law who died at 43 of a heart attack right after landing in Copenhagen. He died right in front of their emergency medical station. He, too, left 4 young children. These things, unfortunately, do happen. And they are devastating.

    When I was stationed overseas there was a young naval officer, in his early 30s, who died from a heart attack while driving to church. It came as a huge shock to everyone who knew him even casually. He was healthy as a horse on Friday; on Monday we arrived at work to the news that he had suddenly died.

    Devastating as it was to family and friends, the devastation potentially could have been much worse. He had two of his children in the car with him. He had just exited the toll road, and was pulling away from the toll booth when he quietly died and rolled to a stop (alternatively, no one really knows if his last act was to stop the car). Had it happened while he was still traveling at highway speeds imagine the tragedy that would have undoubtedly occurred.

    As an aside, it’s because of things like this that I couldn’t immediately jump to the certain conclusion when Whitney Houston died at 49 that it absolutely had to be because of substance abuse. It’s not that I had any illusions, it’s just that rare and unlikely events occur mixed in among the more predictable ones. It isn’t like people in their 30s and 40s in present day America die of natural causes at a high rate, but every once in a while they’re struck by a bolt from the blue and join the silent majority.

    Steve (740ac6)

  49. The media is fond of styling itself as our protector. Let me make it clear that when I want to be protected by filth like them, I will let them know. Until then they can go to hell.

    sherlock (9a0f2b)

  50. witch

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

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