James O’Keefe, the conservative filmmaker known for his outlandish, selectively edited undercover videos, is back in the spotlight for embarrassing himself as he tried to embarrass someone else.
On Monday, The Washington Post wrote a detailed piece about how a woman, under a fake name and identity, tried to get the paper to publish a false story that Senate candidate Roy Moore had sexually assaulted her as a minor then convinced her to get an abortion.
The woman’s story didn’t hold up to scrutiny, and things got fishier once Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, a conservative activist group known for secretly recording videos in attempts to embarrass liberal groups and mainstream media organizations.
A Post reporter confronted O’Keefe about the apparent scheme on video. The controversial activist declined to answer repeated questions regarding the Moore story, but later released a highly edited video of the encounter that happens to cut out all the awkward silences:
These tactics, while ham-handed, aren’t new for O’Keefe. Here are five other times O’Keefe and Veritas made fools of themselves:
“Exposing” CNN’s Russia coverage
Project Veritas conducted a number of election-time stings that tried to influence the presidential campaign, and in 2017, his operation to finally capture, on film, the claim that CNN had an anti-Trump bias in its Russia coverage got a big look from Trump administration.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a press briefing in June, “There’s a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly everybody across the country to take a look at it.”
The shocking, blockbuster revelation? Someone from Veritas had secretly recorded a CNN producer, who covers health and science stories, not politics, saying he thought the network was leaning too hard on Trump in its Russia coverage.
Forgetting to hang up on Soros’ people
Last March, O’Keefe tried to punk the Open Society Foundations, a series of liberal democracy-promotion groups funded by billionaire activist George Soros, by pretending to offer them shady foreign cash.
The only problem was, after placing his initial call to the group, he forgot to hang up, and an employee listened in as O’Keefe and his staff chatted about their plan and scoured LinkedIn for potential ins with the group.
(Unsuccessfully) tapping a senator’s phones
O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a scheme from 2010 where he and three others posed as telephone repairmen and tried to bug the phones in former Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office. They got busted after employees asked them for ID and they said they left it in the car.
Luring a reporter to a floating “pleasure palace”
That same year, O’Keefe tried to lure a female CNN reporter onto a docked yacht that had been converted to a “palace of pleasure” — complete with hidden cameras, strawberries and champagne, dildos, and fuzzy handcuffs — in order to embarrass her.
The reporter caught wind of the scheme and cancelled a planned meeting with O’Keefe, one of the subjects of a documentary the network was making on conservative filmmakers at the time.
Even O’Keefe’s most successful sting wasn’t quite what he said it was.
In 2009, he catapulted to fame in conservative circles by bringing down the liberal activist network ACORN. He released a tape that purported to show him and an accomplice, dressed as a 1970s pimp and his girlfriend, getting advice on how to smuggle underaged prostitutes and run a brothel.
Prosecutors in New York and California found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the ACORN employees, but reports from the New York Times and California’s attorney general found that the pimp thing was just more O’Keefe selective editing; he actually went into the ACORN offices in a suit and tie.
Revealing Hillary’s sprawling $75 corruption network
O’Keefe announced in 2015 he’d finally gotten evidence of a longtime conservative talking point that the mainstream press ignores: that the Clintons were fine with accepting shady foreign money.
He proved it, like any reasonable investigative journalist would, by getting Clinton staffers at a campaign rally to accept $75 from a Project Veritas operative posing as a Canadian citizen in exchange for some T-shirts. Case closed.