The PJ Tatler

James O'Keefe Returns with 'To Catch A Journalist'

Here’s the video, and a solid post on it by Ace.

Rather than regurgitate what Ace wrote, let’s take a look at how the Poynter Institute blog is treating it. Poynter says its mission is to

teach those who manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design, whether they belong to news organizations or work as independent entrepreneurs. We teach those who teach, as well as students in middle school, high school and college—the journalists of tomorrow. And we teach members of the public, helping them better understand how journalism is produced and how to tell for themselves whether it’s credible.

So they churn out journalists and teach them how to be ethical. Ok. O’Keefe’s latest video is pretty straightforward, no pimp outfits or outlandish stunts. It’s just an undercover video of so-called elite journalism profs at NYU talking amongst themselves, dissing Republicans, admitting a strong pro-Obama bias at the New York Times, and so forth. Poynter’s Steve Myers says:

In the second installment of his “To Catch a Journalist” series, James O’Keefe has produced a surreptitiously recorded, heavily edited video starring NYU professors Clay Shirky and Jay Rosen.

Everything we see on TV, with the exception of live events, is “heavily edited,” and where would many news magazine shows be without obtaining video that’s “surreptitiously recorded”? Another name for that is “undercover video,” the kind of thing 60 Minutes has done for decades. The network newscasts try packing a day’s worth of news around the world into 24 minutes of actual airtime — they are by their nature heavily edited. Every 60 Minutes story that has ever aired has been “heavily edited,” mostly so they can pack several hours’ worth of interviews and background footage into their broadcast time. Anyone from the prestigious Poynter j-school knows this. Why call James O’Keefe out for it then? O’Keefe’s videos are no more heavily edited than anything else, but I  don’t see anything about anyone else’s heavy editing of undercover video on the Poynter site. In fact, check the Mission section on this page to see Poynter bragging about being associated with Dan Rather, who pushed forged documents against a sitting president in 2004 and ended up disgraced, and Gwen Ifill, who unethically moderated a presidential debate while she was also selling a book about one of the candidates. Ethics?

Poynter’s problem with O’Keefe probably boils down to his politics, and the fact that for all their fine pedigrees and so forth, O’Keefe alone is more effective than 100 Poynter grads. He is living proof that Poynter is pretty pointless.