For NPR, the public relations nightmare may have just begun: James O’Keefe is planning to release more of the interactions between his group, Project Veritas, and NPR employees.
“We’ve got more material coming out very soon that will shine more light on things,” O’Keefe tells National Review Online. “It’s going to cover after the lunch as well [as before the lunch].”
O’Keefe says he doesn’t know if the current video will result in a loss of federal funding for NPR. “It’s unclear. We have more material. It might even make it [the story] bigger.”
NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher confirmed to National Review Online that there was interaction between O’Keefe’s employees and NPR employees before and after the videotaped lunch, saying that NPR requested “typical information that you would ask from any sort of non-profit charity that would be making a financial contribution of this size,” such as the non-profit’s board members and prior donor recipients.
Christopher said she did not know what else O’Keefe had. “Maybe he has e-mails, the same e-mails that we have,” she says. “Maybe he has recorded phone calls. Maybe he has more video, sting video. It’s just hard to know.”
For O’Keefe, the NPR sting is part of a “larger endeavor, to investigate the media, to look at the watchmen, to investigate the investigators.” Project Veritas, he says, has a “long-term commitment” to media investigation.
Talking about why NPR was targeted, O’Keefe says that “we need to be concerned about where our tax money is going.”
He calls then-NPR Foundation president Ron Schiller’s comments in the video “very revealing” and says they are “the tip of the iceberg.”
“These are two strangers he [Schiller] was meeting with,” O’Keefe remarks. “These were two Muslim Brotherhood strangers. If he’s willing to be so candid with two Muslim Brotherhood strangers, what is he saying amongst executives at NPR? What is he saying amongst his own employees?”
O’Keefe wasn’t in this particular video. Instead, Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar posed as members of the fictional Sharia-promoting Muslim Education Action Center. But O’Keefe doesn’t think he’s so well-known that he couldn’t continue doing occasional covert stings.
“I’m probably going to train people to do it,” he says. “But I still believe there are pockets where people haven’t heard of me, or don’t really follow politics. I will do some, but when it comes to more high profile, when you’re meeting with media executives, I probably couldn’t do it.”
He “admire[s]” Buffalo Beast editor-in-chief Ian Murphy’s ability to get Gov. Scott Walker to talk candidly, thanks to Murphy’s David Koch impersonation, but rejects the claim that his work and Murphy’s are identical.
“The part I don’t admire is the fact that he impersonated a living individual,” says O’Keefe. “I don’t impersonate actual people. These characters are made-up. I didn’t steal someone’s organization . . . So I think that he crossed a line in only that respect.”
“But I did admire how he showed [the ability to get] through to the governor . . . That is a truth he exposed and to his credit,” O’Keefe adds. “I just wouldn’t cross the line about impersonating actual people.”
Shrugging off attacks that his video stings aren’t journalism, O’Keefe says, “It doesn’t matter what you call us. What we do is we expose things for what they are. You can call it filmmaking. You can call it activism. You can call it journalism. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s truth seeking.”
But he maintains that what Project Veritas is doing is more like investigative journalism than the work of most journalists. “They’re going into press conferences and asking people like [former NPR president and CEO] Vivian Schiller questions and doing stenography, writing down her responses,” he comments.
“We don’t do stenography,” O’Keefe continues. “We do investigative reporting. Ron Schiller would never have admitted that NPR would survive without federal funding . . . [without] our investigation. They won’t admit that in public.”
O’Keefe also thinks that the NPR sting will influence public opinion about the federal funding of NPR.
“I have an infinite faith in Americans, if simply armed with the facts, to make their own conclusions and their own decisions,” he says. “I would hope that, especially given the fact that these types of organizations receive tax money, people take the tapes seriously. And they really give this issue a lot of consideration.”
“This is our media. These are the people who are supposed to be informing us,” O’Keefe adds. “They [Americans] can watch the tape, [and] decide for themselves.”
Asked about additional video stings from Project Veritas, O’Keefe declines to give details.
“I couldn’t do that. We’re still finishing up some of them. There’s good stuff to come, and, I think, good stuff on this project as well to come.”