James O’Keefe “Assaulted” in Entertaining New Video

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 27 2013 4:08 PM

James O’Keefe “Assaulted” in Entertaining New Video

James O'Keefe in 2009

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Times-Picayune has a nice recap of “journalist provocateur” James O’Keefe’s latest stunt. It’s not nearly as ambitious as his Planned Parenthood, ACORN, or NPR sting operations, but it’s far more entertaining, if you ask me. In it, O’Keefe’s Project Veritas crew confronts former U.S. Attorney and current Tulane Law School assistant dean Jim Letten on the Tulane campus. O’Keefe blames Letten for his 2010 prosecution for entering Mary Landrieu’s offices under false pretenses (Letten recused himself from the case, which was ultimately settled with a guilty plea), and attempts to give Letten a copy of his new book.

The Times-Picayune’s photo caption team sums up the clip’s highlights better than I ever could:

The video shows an agitated Letten accusing O'Keefe of "terrorizing" the former U.S. attorney's wife at their home, of harassing him and trespassing on the Tulane campus. He called O'Keefe a coward and a spud and referred to O'Keefe and his companions as hobbits.

The hobbit stuff, which is quite excellent, starts around the 36-second mark, and the footage of Letten losing his temper goes on for another two and a half minutes before police detain O’Keefe and his crew. Also very funny, at the four-minute mark O’Keefe accuses Letten of engaging in “minor assault” for grabbing the book from him and then tossing it back at him.

This kind of thing is clearly more personal vendetta than investigative journalism, but it provides an embarrassing portrait of Letten losing his cool. And as a stunt in book publicity cooking, Letten played right into O’Keefe’s hands—the clip has 66,000 views and has inspired numerous sucker bloggers (guilty!) to write about it.

Tulane has issued an order banning O’Keefe from the campus, but this is clearly a mission accomplished for Project Veritas.

Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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