This is a copy of the Op-ed piece submitted by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe to the Washington Post. They declined to run this piece.
On the front page of the November 30 edition of Washington Post was the story, “Endeavor to infiltrate The Post dated back months”. The first line said in part, “The failed effort by conservative activists to plant a false story about Senate candidate Roy Moore in The Washington Post was part of a months long campaign to infiltrate The Post…”
The premise that Project Veritas was attempting to plant a false story is incorrect. The objective for the undercover tactic or alias, was to gain access to Washington Post journalists to expose their political bias and agendas.
Reporting that our tactic resulted in the undermining of victims of abuse is patently false. We never wanted The Washington Post to print a false story. We just wanted the meeting and wanted to talk politics.
For many years, Project Veritas has used various cover stories, tactics if you will, to gain access to targets to elicit the truth. When we posed as dead voters, we did not vote and we were not dead. When I suggested to ACORN workers in 2009 that I wanted to bring underage girls from Central America to live in Baltimore and become prostitutes, I did not plan to do any such thing, nor did I. When two of my colleagues dressed as phone repairmen to enter Mary Landrieu’s office, they were not there to repair the phones.
Let’s take a deeper look at the realities of what it means to go “undercover.” Pimps, hookers, dead voters, Muslim Brotherhood agents, doctors, telephone workers — we operate under alias to elicit a truthful reaction from the subjects we are talking to. It is a method that even our critics have admitted is effective. When Chris Cuomo’s co-host on CNN said that one of our targets was “caught on tape not knowing they were being videotaped”, Cuomo responded, “Sometimes that’s when you’re the most honest”.
Our last hidden camera investigation into the New York Times led the paper to change their social media policy. Our hidden camera investigation into CNN (using a complex tactic, over months to build trust with an Atlanta based CNN producer) resulted in news from the producer that the Russia story narrative is “mostly bullshit” and that CNN CEO Jeff Zucker wanted to push the Russia story primarily because it was good for ratings. Our hidden cameras also captured the unguarded and honest remark from Van Jones that the Russia story is a “Nothingburger”. The videos prompted a reaction from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, who urged all Americans to watch the videos.
When we posed as a child abuser and met with the president of the Yonkers Teachers Union who told us “You don’t fucking tell anybody anything.” Nobody questioned our motives or said we were trying to undermine victims in that case. The moral calculus was clear. The resulting videos of that Union President talking to an abuser lead to her resignation and prompted the Inspector General in Yonkers, New York to investigate.
Project Veritas and undercover journalists of all stripes use the same techniques that are used by police, intelligence agencies, consumer reporters and even secret shoppers. But Project Veritas is pilloried for it. Why? Politics and power. We are attacked in reality not because of our techniques, we are attacked because the elite establishment does not like us targeting them or their sacred cows. Produce hidden camera videos in Chinese sweatshops and win an Emmy. Produce undercover videos exposing hypocrisy in the mainstream media and get accused of criminal activity.
German undercover journalist Gunter Wallraff said, “My job is to deceive in order not to be deceived, to break the rules of the game in order to disclose the secret rules of power.” Veteran journalist Ken Auletta argued, “The journalist’s’ job is to get the story by breaking into their offices, by bribing, by seducing people, by lying, by anything else to break through that palace guard.”
Sisela Bok, in her book “Lying,: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life” identifies basic moral excuses for intentional deception, one, “the protection of truth” is our ultimate justification for the undercover tactics we use.
This entire story is really just about power and a media who cannot abide us or allow us to be defined as journalists because we are battling the status quo. If we investigate one of the enemies of the ordained narrative, we are their friend. If we investigate one of their friends, or them, we become the enemy.
I believe we have a stone lodged between Goliath’s eyes, making our organization public enemy number one. Our investigations produce real public policy outcomes, including defunding of taxpayer funded organizations, legislation and passage of new Voter ID laws, and even impacting state and national elections.
In the final analysis, it’s not about our methods or our techniques – the history of undercover journalism is replete with techniques far more extreme than ours -this is about taking sides in a politically charged world – and whose side you are on.