James O’Keefe, the 28-year-old filmmaker known for a series of undercover video stings targeting federally-funded organizations, called the use of secret cameras that captured Mitt Romney’s comments at a private fundraiser ”an effective tactic that has a place in a democracy.” But he accused the news media of using a double standard when covering the new video and when writing about the films he produced.
“I think that there’s definitely been a double standard amongst professional journalists here because they’ve been pretty much raking Project Veritas [his company] over the coals for about three years,” O’Keefe told Yahoo News during a phone interview from his office in New York. Project Veritas is the organization he founded to produce his videos. “There are no questions about whether it [the video of Romney] was dubbed or doctored, whether there are criminal, potentially state crimes committed in the course of taking that camera around, whether somebody left the camera there and walked away.”
A series of video clips taken surreptitiously during a May fundraiser showed Romney telling donors in Florida that he will “never convince” people who are not eligible to pay income taxes to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” These Americans, who Romney characterized as Obama supporters, “are dependent upon government…believe that they are victims…believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney said. The videos, taken by an anonymous source and popularized by the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine on Tuesday, received so much media coverage that Romney called an emergency press conference on Tuesday night to discuss his remarks.
One of the nation’s most notorious young political filmmakers, O’Keefe first made a name for himself in 2009 when he filmed employees of the advocacy group ACORN offering advice to what they were told was a couple seeking to establish a brothel using underage girls. In response, Congress voted to cut off federal funding for ACORN. In January 2010, O’Keefe was arrested when he posed as a telephone repairman at the New Orleans offices of Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. The congresswoman had told constituents that her phone lines were not functioning, and O’Keefe intended to prove that the phones were working properly. He was caught during production and received a misdemeanor for entering a federal building under false pretenses.’
O’Keefe’s exploits made him a hero among conservatives, but they invited a wave of scrutiny from the left. An article posted on the liberal Salon.com, for instance, tried to paint him as a racist. Several media outlets incorrectly printed stories that he was a convicted felon, and others dismissed his videos because they were “selectively edited.” While O’Keefe’s videos were edited, he made it a common practice to provide raw video online. Mother Jones released the full video of Romney on Wednesday, taking “a page out of the Breitbart playbook,” after “releasing the tapes one at a time,” O’Keefe said.