Chris Good at The Atlantic:
James O’Keefe, the conservative filmmaker who posed as a pimp in video stings at ACORN field offices, has been arrested by the FBI at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) office in downtown New Orleans, in connection to what appears to be an attempt to wiretap the offiice, NOLA.com reports:
FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes alleges that O’Keefe aided and abetted two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who dressed up as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office’s telephone system.
A fourth person, Stan Dai, was accused of aiding and abetting Basel and Flanagan. All four were charged with entering fedral property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
O’Keefe gained notoriety for his secretly filmed ACORN videos, which caused a firestorm of media intrigue surrounding ACORN after O’Keefe posted them on the Andrew-Brietbart-owned blog Big Government last year.
The Times-Picayune has not posted the full FBI affidavit, but the details they have are damning. This is neither a time to joke nor a time to recklessly accuse Democrats/liberals of setting this up — nor a time to whine about media coverage double standards. Deal with what’s on the table
UPDATE x3: OK, final word. I’m sticking out my neck and declaring that I think this will prove to be a big nothing.
I just don’t believe this guy was wiretapping phones or trying to do so. I really don’t.
It might not even have been an attempt to show how easy it would be to bug phones. Maybe there is another explanation. But I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I don’t.
You can quote me.
But this guy is no journalist – conservative or otherwise. He’s a glory hound. And, if these charges pan out, prove the adage that you’re only as good as your next spectacular. The nature of modern celebrity demanded that O’Keefe try and top his ACORN show. Taping the private conversations of Landrieu and spilling them out all over YouTube would have kept him on top of the heap.
Fortunately, the FBI had other ideas and now O’Keefe faces the prospect of doing hard hitting exposes about prison food.
What a dope.
Andrew Breitbart at Big Government:
Wait until the facts are in.
Mainstream Media, ACORN, Media Matters (all the supposed defenders of due process and journalistic ethics) are jumping to conclusions over the arrest today of James O’Keefe, with the clear intention to smear and, if possible, convict O’Keefe and his alleged co-conspirators in the court of public opinion in order to taint the “jury of their peers.”
The ACORN story was a huge black eye for the organized left and their allies and cohorts in the mainstream media. So they are relishing every minute of this breaking story, making it their top story – while they ignored the initial ACORN story until they no longer could.
MSNBC and other “news organizations” are even billing this developing story as “Watergate”. What do Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow know? And when did they know it?
I’m sure they would like to believe O’Keefe is stupid enough to try to “wiretap” a sitting U.S. senator in broad daylight during office hours, while recording the entire sequence of events on his cell phone camera. And they’d like you to believe it, too.
But there is absolutely no allegation in the criminal complaint that “wiretapping” or “bugging” is any part of this case, just the charge that O’Keefe and the others entered Sen. Landrieu’s office in New Orleans “for the purpose of interfering with the office’s telephone system.”
Heh. I can only hope the judge does a John Sirica, ie throws the book at him, and finds out exactly who’s been putting him up to this shit.
David Weigel at The Washington Independent:
O’Keefe had become a conservative media star since the ACORN sting. I just talked to Lisa De Pasquale, director of CPAC, who said that O’Keefe, along with co-stinger Hannah Giles and Andrew Breitbart, is (or was) under consideration for the annual conservative conference’s coveted Reagan Award.
Mike Flynn, the editor of Big Government–where the ACORN videos originally appeared–told me that the conservative news site had no knowledge of what O’Keefe was up to.
“We had absolutely no clue what he was up to,” said Flynn, “and now you see why! It’s a complete surprise to us. We’ll just see what happens.”
John Cook at Gawker:
And, of course, Fox News, which was one of the outlets that pushed hardest to turn O’Keefe into a folk hero, is taking the position that this Landrieu office incident is a story “that probably needs a lot of context and a lot of looking into” before anyone jumps to conclusions. Unlike, say, videos of a white boy in garish pimp clothes which are prima facie evidence of … something.
Stan Dai is one of the four men arrested with a failed attempt to bug Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.
I did some research. Ten bucks says this is the little (would-be) bugger:
STAN DAI, Lisle, Ill., attends The George Washington University majoring in Political Science. He is editor-in-chief of The GW Patriot, an alternative conservative student newspaper, a Club 100 Activist of Young America’s Foundation, and an Undergraduate Fellow on Terrorism of the Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies. He is co-founder of GW’s Students Defending Democracy, a volunteer on several political campaigns, and active in the GW College Republicans and GW Colonials for Life. He was a 2003 Honorable Mention in the U.S. Institute of Peace Essay Contest.
One Stan Dai was listed as the Assistant Director of the The Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (ICCAE) at Trinity (Washington) University. The ICCAE says it prepares young people for careers in intelligence.
(Original reporting, please credit Lindsay Beyerstein.)
Pareene at Gawker:
And Breitbart playing dumb about the activities of his newest pet conservative media darling strains credulity. First of all, O’Keefe was Tweeting that he was up to something. If O’Keefe was truly a free agent, wandering the nation taking down liberals on his own time and selling the videos to the highest bidder, then sure, Breitbart didn’t know. But O’Keefe’s on the BigGovernment payroll.
Read this interview Breitbart did with Hugh Hewitt yesterday. Breitbart says the last time he talked to O’Keefe was “weeks” ago (but less than a month ago). Hewitt asks how much Breitbart paid O’Keefe for the ACORN video:
HH: And are you free to tell me how much you pay him?
AB: I’ll…perhaps at another date, but he’s paid a fair salary.
HH: Is he…so he is an employee?
AB: I’m not sure that’s technically the thing, but yes, he’s paid for his life rights. And he’s, you know, he’s still…we reserve the right to say yes or no to any of the stories that he puts up on our site as we do to any other contributor who comes to the site.
HH: Will it be a mischaracterization to say he was working for you when he went about this?
AB: Well, I mean, no. He was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com.
HH: And I think that’s the key thing. Lots of people work for lots of corporations, and do dumb and sometimes illegal things that are not within the scope of their employment. And this was not within the scope of his employment.
AB: Yes, absolutely. That is absolutely the case.
So… Andrew’s websites pay O’Keefe a salary and have right of first refusal for the work he produces as an “independent filmmaker.” But the work he did when he attempted to film himself and his friends sneaking into the office of a US Senator to tamper with her phones does not count as work done for Andrew’s sites. (I guess because it wasn’t finished?) Lots of people do illegal things “that are not within the scope of their employment,” sure, but O’Keefe’s job is actually sneaking into places under false pretenses and filming it without permission, for Andrew’s websites.
UPDATE: Chris Good
UPDATE #2: James O’Keefe’s statement on Big Government
Chris Good at The Atlantic
David Weigel at Washington Independent
UPDATE #3: Ben Stein at The American Spectator
David Weigel at Washington Independent
UPDATE #4: Chris Good again, on the prosecutor’s withdrawal
UPDATE #5: Max Blumenthal at Salon
Larry O’Connor at Big Journalism
David Weigel at Washington Independent
UPDATE #6: David Weigel at Washington Independent
Frank Ross at Big Journalism
Lachlan Markay at Newsbusters
UPDATE #7: Charles Johnson and Conn Carroll debate Salon/O’Keefe at Bloggingheads
UPDATE #8: Justin Elliott at TPM
UPDATE #9: More Elliott at TPM
David Frum at FrumForum