In this era where facts are called lies and lies masquerade as facts, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the organization behind an effort to plant a fake news story would be called Project Veritas.
“Veritas” is a Latin word meaning “truth,” but truth is far from what Project Veritas was peddling when a woman named Jaime Phillips approached reporters for the Washington Post.
Phillips offered a tale that she no doubt hoped would be red meat for the liberal media. She claimed she had a sexual relationship with U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore as a teenager and that the affair left her pregnant. Moore, she claimed, tried to talk her into having an abortion.
The goal seemed to be that the Post would publish the tale and thus cast doubt on the stories of other women who had leveled accusations against Moore.
Instead, journalists at the Post did what journalists do. They checked her story, and as they did, the details began to unravel.
In the end, reporter Stephanie McCrummen confronted Phillips and asked her to explain the discrepancies.
And the Post got it all on video. If you haven’t seen it, that video is worth a look.
Days later, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe spoke to students at Southern Methodist University, and he downplayed the significance of the failed conspiracy.
“The Washington Post seems to want a Nobel Prize for vetting a source correctly,” he said.
The fact that critics scorn his tactics doesn’t bother O’Keefe.
“I think that in many ways being hated is a sign of respect,” he said.
O’Keefe gained national attention for a sting operation at an ACORN office in Baltimore where he pretended to be a pimp looking for government assistance in opening a house of prostitution.
His organization’s stings have also targeted Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio among other organizations. Project Veritas has been criticized for selective editing of its undercover videos, but O’Keefe rejected that criticism.
“We stand by our reporting, and we stand by every edit we have ever made at Project Veritas,” he said.
O’Keefe believes his work should be subject to the same protections as that of any news organization. He mentioned an effort by prosecutors in New Hampshire to obtain his raw footage.
“Would you ask ‘60 Minutes’ to cooperate with the U.S. government, to hand over hard drives?” he asked.
On the one hand, O’Keefe calls himself a “guerilla journalist.”
“At Veritas, we believe that we’re all journalists now,” he said. “The establishment desperately needs to narrow the definition of who is a journalist, in order to protect their power.”
On the other hand, he stands in opposition to traditional news organizations.
“The entire media establishment is against Project Veritas for good reason,” he said in a video posted on Facebook. “We’re challenging their credibility, their veracity and their monopoly. We are an essential threat to them. ... Project Veritas has a stone lodged between Goliath’s eyes. The media wants me to kneel down and apologize. I will not.”
In his remarks at SMU, O’Keefe vowed to continue his fight.
“We live in unbelievable times, and investigative reporting doesn’t really happen very often anymore,” he said. “Yes, we use disguise, yes, we go undercover, but sometimes it’s the only way to ferret out what people really believe – when nobody’s looking.”
O’Keefe names his organization for truth, yet he traffics in lies. He calls himself a journalist, yet seeks to undermine journalism. He claims investigative reporting is disappearing, and yet he sees his conspiracy undone by some good, old-fashioned investigative reporting.
Irony is dead.