By now, many Corner readers will have heard about the latest juvenile stunt by James O’Keefe. For those of you who haven’t, here is the CNN story about his attempt to “punk” a female CNN reporter.
When O’Keefe last made the national news, he was clumsily staging a fake phone-repairman stunt at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in an attempt to call attention to the number of calls she had received against Obamacare. The Left certainly got carried away with dreams of Watergate II — the “break-in” was obviously play-acting to manufacture a silly Internet video, not a burglary to steal documents or vandalize the office — but the episode made many conservatives think twice about their past praise of O’Keefe as an “investigative journalist.” Whatever he is, he certainly isn’t that.
This CNN episode ought to convince all conservatives that not only should O’Keefe’s behavior be condemned, but conservative leaders and organizations need to do a better job of assessing the maturity level and character of the people they hire, support, or praise. Building an alternative media network of conservative and libertarian periodicals, news portals, broadcasters, blogs, and video sites is a great idea. The collapse of the traditional media’s business model and credibility make it a timely idea. But such a network must offer the public real journalism, produced by independent-minded professionals committed to the standards and practices of the profession. If it offers little more than Michael Moore–style filmmaking with dashes of campus hijinks and bad taste, it will squander scarce resources and backfire badly.