The White House is Now Using James O’Keefe Videos to Attack the Press

by Zack Ford –

This particular attack on the press garnered a response.

At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used a question from Breitbart News to attack the entire press corps. Breitbart reporter Charlie Spiering asked about a specific story CNN retracted, but in her response, Sanders accused CNN of being “repeatedly wrong” on other stories, and encouraged people to watch an unverified video from James O’Keefe’s disreputable Project Veritas instead.

“Frankly everybody across the country to take a look at it,” Sanders said of the video that was just released Tuesday morning. “I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. I think that we have gone to a place where, if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for America.” She went on to refer to the “Russia/Trump hoax,” suggesting that all of the reporting about President Trump’s connections to Russia was more “fake news.” Her tirade prompted Brian Karem, a local reporter and editor for a Washington, D.C.-area paper, to openly criticize her for demonizing the media in this way.

In the Project Veritas video Sanders referred to, someone is secretly recording a series of casual conversations with John Bonifield, a CNN supervising producer who works in the network’s medical unit. Like just about every other “gotcha” video O’Keefe has released over the years, this one appears to be highly edited. Nevertheless, he claims that Bonifield’s comments prove that CNN knows its stories about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia are “mostly bullshit,” but is running them heavily just for the ratings.

The New York Times’ Sopan Deb was quick to point out the obvious flaws in the video. Besides the fact the video is clearly edited and O’Keefe is notoriously untrustworthy, a single producer for CNN’s medical coverage has absolutely no authority to speak about the network’s Russia coverage.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has promoted O’Keefe’s videos. In a presidential debate last October, then-candidate Trump promoted some of his other videos purportedly showing Hillary Clinton supporters boasting how they were inciting violence against Trump supporters. Though Trump claimed these efforts were “started by her,” there is no evidence in any of the videos to suggest Clinton had any knowledge about the supposed schemes.

And Trump’s support for O’Keefe extends beyond simply promoting his videos. In 2015, the Trump Foundation made a $10,000 donation to Project Veritas. Besides the fact that O’Keefe selectively edits all of his undercover videos, he also has a financial motivation to try to help Trump.

O’Keefe can also thank his duplicitous antics for a criminal conviction. After a botched “sting” of then-Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2010, he and three of his associates pleaded guilty to entering U.S. property under false pretenses. O’Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation, a fine of $1,500, and 100 hours of community service. He later also agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement to an ACORN employee he secretly recorded in 2009.

Of the 17 minutes Sanders spent at the podium on Tuesday, she spent more than half of it criticizing the media, including the spiel in which she peddled O’Keefe’s video. All of the questions that provoked those criticisms came from conservative news outlets like Breitbart and Lifezette, while other outlets that were called upon asked policy questions.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress