In my column yesterday, I said a little about James O’Keefe and his fellow journalistic “stingers”: people who go undercover to catch other people in the act of being themselves. I said, “Like you, maybe, I have mixed feelings about these” operations. But what these operations expose “is marvelous. The targets speak very, very frankly. And, the more frankness, the better” (most of the time, or much of the time).
I also said, “I feel sure of one thing: If O’Keefe et al. were on the left, not on the right, dedicated to embarrassing and exposing conservatives, they would be hailed as heroes of investigation, transparency, and truth. They would have won every award under the sun by now.”
These remarks prompted a fair amount of mail — with one reader saying, “Remember Ali G!” Oh, yes: That was the Sacha Baron Cohen character who went around interviewing people, with hilarious results — or bizarre results, or painful results, depending. Cohen has had other characters too (e.g., Borat). He has generally been lauded.
Another reader reminded me of something I had forgotten about, or perhaps never known about: that NBC’s Dateline took Muslim men to a NASCAR event, in the apparent hope that NASCAR fans would mistreat them in some way (which didn’t happen). Here is a news story, headed “NBC accused of using Muslims to bait NASCAR fans.”
Anyway, journalism can be, um, creative.