Tuesday, February 02, 2010

James O'Keefe Admits Error in Judgment on Hannity Show

James O'Keefe is a victim of his own success.  He and Hannah Giles infiltrated an ACORN office in the guise of pimp and prostitute to ask for tax and other advice.  The ACORN officials gave them advice on how to get housing and tax breaks without revealing their true "employment."  Unbeknown to the ACORN officials, they were secretly being filmed.  When O'Keefe released the tapes for public viewing, ACORN suffered a firestorm of public humiliation and scorn for their unethical and possibly illegal advice.  ACORN, famous for its support of voter fraud through fictitious registrations, deserved the embarrassment.  They lost a lot of federal funding in the process.  O'Keefe, at age 24, became a conservative hero, feted and featured on shows like Sean Hannity's.  He was the knight who had slain the ACORN beast.

Alas, the ACORN caper was a hard act to follow.  What could O'Keefe do next to keep his fame rolling?  Aha!  He would investigate Senator Mary Landrieu's office telephones to see why they were never answered.  So he and three other men showed up one day at the Senator's federal offices dressed as telephone repairmen and attempted to get access to Landrieu's phones and wiring.  Well, as it turns out, they only wanted to photograph or film the phone setup to determine if it had been wired to shut off calls from Landrieu's constituents, who were phoning in droves to protest Landrieu's support of Obamacare.

Meanwhile, building security figured that four guys impersonating phone repairmen, who were attempting to gain access to a U.S. Senator's phone system, were probably trying to bug the telephones.  It was a reasonable assumption, and one that O'Keefe should have figured out for himself before embarking on such a foolish mission.  (Maybe next time he can test airport security by showing up at the airport dressed as Osama Bin Laden, or test bank security by arriving dressed as a bandit.)

O'Keefe screwed up big time and his prior success does not erase that unfortunate fact.  He as much as admitted that on Hannity yesterday.  There are some lessons to be learned from this unfortunate incident:
1.  If you are not a professional, investigative journalist (but merely an amateur wanna-be), take great care in planning undercover surveillance projects:  consult with an attorney first before embarking on such a mission; 
2.  Brainstorm the possible consequences or downside on how the project could fail, take a wrong turn, be misinterpreted (especially by law enforcement) or spun by the left.
3.  Admit it when you screw up, or if you are merely a conservative not involved, admit it when O'Keefe or others like him screw up.  There is little to be gained by advancing moral equivalences with past leftwing misdeeds.
4. Remember, stupid mistakes like O'Keefe's phone repairmen episode hurt the conservative movement by providing ammunition to our political opponents.   

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