#TCOT Tuesday: James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII)

James O’Keefe is always creating headlines, most recently filing suit against Al Gore’s Current TV, Keith Olbermann and David Shuster.  Shuster of course is a respected, award winning television journalist (unlike O’Keefe) and thought it was hilarious to falsely label O’Keefe a convicted felon who had been accused of rape.  O’Keefe’s willingness to counterattack and his frankly confrontational take on the “fascist” media has made him a figure of loathing on the Left, while even frightening some conservatives that shy away from his adversarial tactics.

Lost in the caricature is what James O’Keefe is really all about.  Reluctant to label himself a right-winger, he considers himself an “artist” more in the spirit of the Old Left.  His motivation is to “stick it to the man, expose things, educate people,“ and most of all, “reveal the truth about powerful institutions.”

Twitter is central to O’Keefe’s artistry, allowing him to be in complete control of his message and get in touch directly with people.  More than anything else, O’Keefe believes “content is king” and emphasizes the need for tweeting original content.  He has built his following by breaking his own news first on his own twitter account.

He also uses twitter to keep tabs on the media, notably Sree Sreenivasan (@sree), Dean of Students at Columbia Journalism School.  While Sree posts interesting stories on the media, O’Keefe says wryly, he’s “not too much of a fan of mine.”

O’Keefe is not some conservative movement hack.  He is scathing in his treatment of the Beltway Right, noting that they “spend millions on conferences, ceremonies, and gatherings – funding what amounts to a veneer of activity in an echo chamber” instead of funding direct action.  The result is that while “the Left is out there occupying buildings, state legislatures, pressuring corporations and engaging in street activism with full support of the entire left of center, the Right casts its own to the wolves.  That’s the biggest difference right there.”  While conservatives titter about such tactics, O’Keefe seems almost envious.

O’Keefe slams the Right for its refusal to engage the mainstream culture and their skepticism of effective tactics, noting that “Lila Rose’s videos inside Planned Parenthood clinics have done more to damage Planned Parenthood’s reputation than all other pro life organizations combined.”  He didn’t add that his own takedown of ACORN could be put in the same category.

O’Keefe’s identification of the media as political actor in its own right separates him from the conservatives that merely complain about liberal bias.  For James O’Keefe, the media has become part of the system that they were supposed to guard against.  Even when he breaks a story about government malfeasance, most of the media attacks the messenger and ignores the message.  O’Keefe fires back that they are fascists.  “They defend the government using corporate money, I don’t know what else you would call it.”

Anti-system, artist, and activist – James O’Keefe doesn’t fit with the presumptions and premises of the self satisfied Beltway Right.  In fact, he’s not really part of it at all.  His mission, as he sees it, is to pursue “art for art’s sake” and make the world a “more virtuous place.”  This kind of existential politics fits uncomfortably with a movement concerned about status within the existing system and which once used “don’t immanentize the eschaton” as a slogan.  Looking at how that movement operates today and what it has and mostly hasn’t achieved, maybe an artist is what we need.

Comments

Comments

  1. test1234 says:

    Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

  2. Adi says:

    , “it is much easier to let the cat out of the bag then it is to put it back.” So it seems obama’s suoitlon is the insurance companies pay for the contraceptives, and abortions and not the hospitals. How did he turn it around to payment? I was under the impression the problem was administrating the drugs or providing them not paying for them. Also has anyone seen obama change his mind before, after the fact and a good suoitlon result? Who thinks if not fought all the way by the Catholics it will not later be imposed by this president? Probably down the road when there is less attention being paid then now and when the outcome may not be detrimental to his presidency. Or get quite so much publicity. Obama has demonstrated time and time again he does not talk the same actions he preforms. What he does and what he says he is going to do are, in most cases, if not all cases, not the same but opposite. That is his smoke screen!Steve Elliot is correct in his analogy we have been “stupaked” by obama. However, an older analogy is “he double crossed” Americans. And nearly everyone understands that. But not just in the case of this recent attack on religion. As a matter of fact almost daily for over three years. Because we have been lied too and deceived, nearly daily for that three years how can it be he is still able to continue his charade without being exposed by the main stream media? Obama said there would be no lobbyist allowed within his administration, yet within thirty days after he took office he installed several. He also said he would be the most transparent president ever in the history of the United States, and he has turned out to the most secretive. Which was demonstrated quite well during the passage of obamacare. He also said he would bring the country together but instead has been a separatist. He passed The Affordable Healthcare Act, (obamacare) stating how wonderful it was and then issued over two thousand wavers to people and companies who thought it sucked, while forcing it on the rest of us. It would be easy to go on and on about his incompetency but we are all aware of his acts. However, incompetency may not be the right term because as every day passes it becomes more apparent his acts are intentional. But then he did promise us fundamental transformation. He just never explained it. By not explaining it he could never be claimed to be incorrect in his actions because there is no goal planned just like there is no budget, consequently, he has no guide lines or consequences to his actions. Is that smart or destructive?

  3. A well thought out and educational blog post, thanks very much

  4. Satisfied birthday Mama Morris.

  5. Ava says:

    Your mode of explaining all in this post is actually fastidious, every one be able to
    effortlessly understand it, Thanks a lot.

Polititainment

WH wants climate change 'Frozen' spinoff
Sorry, Anna. That snowman might not be possible in the new, evil, climate change-wrecked world of the Obama administration’s “Frozen” spinoff. According to The Hill, a State Department official recently met with Disney to discuss the idea of using “Frozen’s” characters to teach children about the impact of global warming on the polar bear. Robert Papp, […]
Dylan: 'Gov. not going to create jobs'
Bob Dylan’s latest quote is music to a conservative’s ears. Dylan gave an interview this week to AARP The Magazine to promote his new record “Shadows in the Night,” but that somehow led into some wise words on the government and job creation. “As long as there’s suffering, you can only be so happy. How can […]
Kid Rock tells off Michael Moore

Amid the chorus of protest raining upon Michael Moore (and to a lesser extent, Seth Rogen) -- veterans, country stars, the general public -- Kid Rock may have sounded the loudest note of all.

Stewart bashes GOP 2016 field

Stewart is pretty dismayed by all the “fresh new faces 2016 has in store for us.” Like Mitt Romney, “the once and future not-president.”

Fallon's SOTU pros and cons list

Jimmy Fallon helpfully compiled a pros and cons list from last night's State of the Union Address.

White House

WH chief of staff blurts out previously-concealed name of American hostage on live TV

All in a day's work at the White House: sometimes you keep ISIS hostage names a secret, sometimes you let them slip in an in interview on national TV.

7 Times Obama was ‘Partisan,’ Not ‘Practical’ during his State of the Union address
Near the beginning of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama promised to be “practical, not partisan” in his proposals to Congress. However, his speech ended up being anything but. From cracking jokes to outright veto threats, it was clear that the president had no interest in bipartisanship. So we decided to […]
Obama has been reminding Republicans ‘I won’ for 2,189 days

President Obama trotted out one of his favorite talking points against Republicans yet again Tuesday night, reminding the opposition party that "I won."

Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina challenges WH hypocrisy on equal pay for women

Carly Fiorina, the first woman to run a Fortune 20 company and former Republican Senate nominee in California, took on Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, telling Jarrett she is “struck” by the White House’s failure to live up to its own standards for pay equity for their staff.

Obama fails to mention $60B price tag of his ‘free’ community college proposal in State of the Union address
President Obama was quick to tout his grand idea of “free” community college during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, all while ignoring the actual cost of the program on American taxpayers. “By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education — two in three.  And yet, […]

Congress

Senate surpasses its 2014 vote total in a week
Is this what the Senate looks like without Harry Reid in charge? The new Republican-led Senate has already voted on more amendments in just one week than the Democratic-controlled Senate voted on in all of 2014. “We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think is noteworthy for the Senate. We just cast our 15th roll-call vote […]
Whistleblowers denounce DOJ juvenile program

According to whistleblower reports, a Justice Department (DOJ) juvenile delinquency program provided grants to states jailing foster children and runaways over minor offenses like skipping school.

Gohmert: Obama 'divisive on the issue of race'

There’s a reason reporters clamored around former-House-Speaker-candidate Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at the State of the Union like this:

Rand Paul slams SOTU’s ‘lack of sincerity’ on NSA

Senator Rand Paul spent Wednesday morning blasting Obama’s State of the Union address, telling a roomful of conservatives at the Capitol Hill Club that “Some of the stuff, frankly, was difficult to even listen to and keep a straight face.”

Alexander: Obama ignored American people in SOTU
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R – Tenn.) hit the nail on the head in his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. “I think the President ought to give two state of the union addresses. We pretty well heard the first one, the one with things Congress wouldn’t ever do. We need […]