James O'Keefe and Politifact Discover Occupy Wall Street

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2011 12:17 PM

James O'Keefe and Politifact Discover Occupy Wall Street

The right's Nellie Bly goes undercover as a banker -- basically, dressing like himself, but with glasses -- and hobnobs at Occupy Wall Street. The resulting video is underwhelming. No one cries out for socialism. A couple of central casting hippies muse about how nice it would be for billionnaires to fund their movement. (This is true!) Also, a woman is cagey about giving O'Keefe a hit off her joint.

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Actually, the biggest surprise in the video may be that O'Keefe did this, instead of a Project Veritas comrade. News of O'Keefe at the protest circulated immediately (anything else would have been odd, in a Twitter-centric movement like this), and even in this video you can see cell phone and tablet cameras filming and snapping shots of O'Keefe. This is a meta-story, as is PolitiFact's amusingly deadpan analysis of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, the samizdat newspaper being printed by Occupiers and handed out in New York. The Occupiers are rated "half true," because they use broader definitions of poverty than the government deos.

[Census] numbers show that 60.4 million Americans are at 125 percent of the poverty line, 75.3 million are at 150 percent of the poverty line, and 103.6 million Americans -- or just over one-third -- are at twice the poverty line. So to get to 100 million Americans, the article would have to count people who are at roughly twice the official poverty level.

Does the dismissiveness matter? Just getting noticed by O'Keefe and PolitiFact is a victory for the Occupiers. (Probably less useful: The continuing efforts of some D.C. protesters to co-opt the movement and do stupid things with it. They're currently in the Hart Senate offices, getting arrested.)

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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