The rap on James O’Keefe — whose latest bombshell caught CNN’s quasi-Marxist star pundit Van Jones with his well-tailored pants down — is that his Project Veritas videos are “unfairly edited.”
I have news for O’Keefe’s critics. All videos (and films) are basically unfairly edited, as Sergei Eisenstein and the early Soviet directors demonstrated a hundred years ago. It’s the nature of the medium. Some things get left out and others put in.
Nevertheless, the video or movie camera is a recording device. On close examination, looked at specifically, the actual photographs and recordings finally don’t lie, juxtapose them how you will. Van Jones did say “Russia is a nothingburger!” The network’s John Bonifield did call CNN’s Russia narrative “bullsh$t” concocted for the money. The repellent lady from Planned Parenthood did offer to sell fetal parts. The equally repellent Democratic Party operatives did instigate violent demonstrations at Trump rallies to make the candidate’s supporters look like thugs. O’Keefe himself did walk back and forth undettered across the Rio Grande from Mexico to the USA dressed as Osama bin Laden to show the pathetic level of our border security.
I could go on. There are many more, including examples unmasking the shibboleths of voter registration, but the point is obvious. Despite some selective editing (but not any that materially alters the facts) and sometimes overly portentous music (why bother when you have the goods?), what James O’Keefe reports is true. It happened.
Because they so often rely on leaks — no photographs, videos or anything like them, often nothing concrete at all — what the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and so many others (even the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, alas) report is very often, one is tempted to say most often, either a distortion or an outright lie. This is particularly true when what they are reporting has political relevance — and so much does.
If not the root cause — that’s uncontrolled and unacknowledged bias — this excessive reliance on leaks has seriously exacerbated the precipitous decline of the mainstream media. For much of our media, leaks are an opium-like drug that clouds their thinking and to which they are literally addicted. They are waiting for the phone to ring like the junkie is waiting for his next fix. That the leakers all have motivations of their own, known and/or unknown, yet are able to remain anonymous to the public, makes what they leak almost de facto dubious and unreliable, in fact dangerous (as well as illegal, obviously).
Yet the MSM reporters gobble them up, eager to scoop their competitors and at the same time — much like overweight, self-satisfied picadors — weaken Trump and his administration for the final kill, doing, in their own eyes anyway, good works while advancing their careers.
O’Keefe has revealed them to be fools, remarkably unsophisticated in their response to his revelations. (Jeff Zucker, et al., looked like dimwits walking into the most obvious trap by dismissing Bonifield as a mere “medical” producer with the famous Van Jones already queued up for humiliation.) At this point, only the most naive believe what the MSM says. CNN is already a joke, but the NYT, WaPo, etc. are not far behind. We are all reading Pravda now.
Ironically, Woodward and Bernstein are responsible for a lot of this. They made a giant success off leaks, turning journalists into culture heroes (really false gods) to be portrayed by Redford and Hoffman in the movies. Generations of aspiring journalists sought to follow in their footsteps — to be these false gods. Only there was no there there. No Nixon to upend. So they turned Trump into the New Nixon and manufactured a crime to go along with it.
W & B also inadvertently encouraged a new kind of leaker that is endemic today. Call him or her the “score settler,” a loathsome character lurking in the bowels of the Deep State or intelligence agencies, a remnant of the previous administration, who thinks his or her reasons for telling a partial, misleading truth are justified, are for the public good, when they are almost invariably only for their own good or some supposed ideological good they wish to impose regardless of the wishes of the voters in a democracy. (These are both often enmeshed.)
This created an extreme, almost pathological, will-to-believe the leakers on the part of the MSM as illustrated by the recent firings (sorry, “resignations”) of three CNN employees in the face of a $100M lawsuit. One of these credulous employees, Eric Lichtblau, was once a Pulitzer Prize winner at the New York Times.
Woodward, to his credit, seems to have recognized how extreme the situation has become. He chided the NYT today, saying, “Fair-mindedness is essential.” His own paper, under Bezos, has become even worse. But never mind. Give him credit for a half-truth. (By the way, CNN’s Jeff Zucker is a working stiff compared to Jeff Bezos. What’s Bezos’ excuse?)
But more importantly — it’s over. Well, if not over, a new, positive rung has been reached. The MSM, as we knew it, is, if not destroyed, seriously wounded. They are — channeling a phrase from the Vietnam Era — a “pitiful, helpless giant.” The work begun in 2004 when many of us spoke out against Dan Rather’s deceitful promulgation of the forged Bush National Guard papers on “Sixty Minutes” has, thanks to O’Keefe and others, not to mention the irrationality of the MSM itself, finally reached a critical mass. If only Andrew Breitbart were here to see it.
Celebrate for ten seconds. But as another of the original group, Glenn Reynolds, keeps reminding us — don’t get cocky.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. He tweets @rogerlsimon.