Conservative activist O’Keefe posts tapes targeting CNN
New York — Conservative activist James O’Keefe on Thursday released what he said are 119 hours of raw audio secretly recorded inside CNN’s Atlanta headquarters in 2009.
The audio was recorded and provided to O’Keefe’s website, Project Veritas, by a source he didn’t identify.
His organization promoted the tapes as exposing journalistic lapses at CNN. One excerpt reveals that CNN did not include a particular poll in its reporting eight years ago. However, it is common for news organizations to be discerning about which polls they choose to report on.
“We don’t know everything that’s on the tapes. We’ve listened to a fraction of them,” O’Keefe said during a phone interview Thursday, adding that the process of sifting through them continues.
He did not explain the yearslong delay in the tapes’ release, but said the source had approached his organization “in recent weeks.”
The audio was initially posted online for only a few minutes Thursday morning before the site crashed. It remained unavailable for several hours after that.
More tapes will be forthcoming, O’Keefe said. He refused to comment on whether any were more recent.
“This is a kind of new era of journalism where it’s WikiLeaks-style dumping of information that we will continue to do more of,” he said.
CNN declined to comment.
In previewing the planned release, O’Keefe, who is generally critical of the news media, had said on Wednesday he is targeting CNN because it “has a very important role as an arbiter of news.”
Some of O’Keefe’s previous ventures have resulted in a legal backlash. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses after trying to tamper with the phones in Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office. He called that episode a “huge misunderstanding” and defended his tactics, saying investigative reporters have been using hidden cameras for years.
The year before, he became notorious for his selectively edited videos about ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, which backed efforts to register voters in urban and other poor areas of the country. He used a hidden camera to record as he brought a young woman posing as a prostitute to the group’s offices. The widely aired footage and the resulting outrage led to ACORN disbanding. O’Keefe agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit based on the ACORN incident.
Though he has said he has no formal training as a journalist, O’Keefe helped found a conservative monthly journal called The Centurion as an undergraduate at Rutgers University. After graduating in 2006, O’Keefe was paid to set up magazines and newspapers on university campuses for the Leadership Institute, which recruits potential conservative public policy and media stars.