Clay Shirky and Jay Rosen—respectively, the bestselling author on technological innovation (and Observer profilee) and the revered head of NYU’s journalism program/ubiquitous new media guru—have been tapped by James O’Keefe as the latest stars of one of his “gotcha” propaganda videos. This marks the first time prominent media figures have been targeted by O’Keefe for the full feature treatment.
You know O’Keefe, and have probably heard of some of his “greatest” hits:
- He dressed up like a pimp and entrapped community organizers from ACORN, effectively dismantling the organization.
- He was arrested for trying to wiretap the office of U.S. Senate member Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
- He got NPR’s senior vice president of fundraising canned for calling the Tea Party “weird.”
- He attempted to get CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau on a boat for a psychosexual entrapment video, which he very publicly failed at.
And so on. O’Keefe’s last major public appearance was when he was profiled by the New York Times Magazine (which wasn’t received entirely favorably for it’s attempt to humanize O’Keefe, among other reasons). In the profile, the author remains fairly weary of The Teabugger:
My first meeting with O’Keefe, a month or so earlier, was somewhat awkward. He arrived at the Chart House restaurant in Weehawken, N.J., right on time, but he seemed slightly surprised he had showed up at all. “You’re from The New York Times,” he said. “How can I be sure you’ll be objective and accurate?”
“The same way I can be sure you’re not filming this conversation,” I replied.
O’Keefe assured me that he would never do such a thing.
Well, he might not have taped his interviewer, but he certainly went after Mr. Shirky, Mr. Rosen, and the Times. Video highlights, so you don’t have to watch:
- People are seen noting the New York Times as an “elite” paper, and referring to “elites.”
- A self-depreciating joke is made about “us Chardonnay swilling news junkies.”
- Analysis of the Times hesitations behind initially covering Barack Obama as a presidential candidate is heard.
- An “even if” theoretical of Liberals at the Times who wanted to get Obama elected is heard.
And per the ever-reliable analysis of Andrew Brietbart:
The professors stop short of saying that the Times explicitly intended to help the Occupy demonstrators. What they say is, effectively, “If the Times had wanted to help Occupy, here’s how it would have done so–and that’s in fact what it did.”
If you’ll notice, nothing in the above indicates either of these men—who have consulted and/or written for the Times in the past—openly admitting a bias within the Times. They pose theoreticals, and how they’d play out, but as you can see above, it’s plainly clear a connection between theoretical intent and actual intent isn’t moved forward.
Even for a video where quotes are so obviously removed from their context and clips are edited with the prejudice of a toddler with an industrial paper cutter, the video isn’t all that damning. Even the music (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) has a pretty light ring to it.
Jay Rosen took to Twitter earlier to preempt a forthcoming response: “I’m at O’Hare now, switching planes. Later today I will have a statement about James O’Keefe’s attempted ‘sting’ against me and Clay Shirky.” In an email to BetaBeat, he reiterated that he will definitely be weighing in on this, “But I am right now in meetings in Cedar Rapids and won’t be able to blog about it until later tonight, maybe much later.”
Shirky, who isn’t that active on Twitter to begin with, has yet to respond publicly. UPDATE: Shirky responds to the matter to The Atlantic Wire’s Adam Clarke Estes, noting that he hasn’t even watched the video.
Interesting that O’Keefe would go after these two, instead of, say, someone with actual authority at the Times. Especially without targeting any of the things they’re famous for speaking on: the way technology is reshaping journalism. Which O’Keefe is clearly a student of.
If you want to watch, well, it’s your ten minutes (far more entertaining alternative, which isn’t saying much: the Fake Jay Rosen Twitter, which has a wonderful avatar):
[Above: The “Gotcha” Dancers. Who are far more entertaining than O’Keefe, as evidenced…]