I was listening to Sam Seder and Digby on the Majority Report talking about the various political sexual harassment cases in the news last week. Sam talked about the fear the GOP will weaponize them. Of course they will, they have in the past.
I expect more allegations of misconduct on the left to pop up. Not because there are numerically more, but because the right will actively seek out cases on the left to push to balance out their own woman-grabbing elephant in the room.
When I started this piece on Thanksgiving weekend 2017, I anticipated cases of false allegations coming from the right.
On Monday I read the story of a woman who manufactured an allegation against Roy Moore and tried to get the Washington Post to run with it. The woman worked for James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. (I was right again, but since I didn’t publish Sunday I don’t expect a cookie from Karoli this time.)
A false allegation that is reported as real by the liberal media–then revealed to be false–would be great for the right. It lets them defend their own while demonizing women and the media. “See?” they would crow, “Women LIE! You shouldn’t believe them! The liberal media lies too!”
Project Veritas: Bad Actors Hiring Bad Actors
It’s important to know that James O’Keefe is a wannabe thespian.
Project Veritas is a bad theater group pretending to be a non-profit muckraking journalist group. He’s a bad actor in both meanings of the phrase.
Conservative spend millions on groups like O’Keefe’s to damage people, groups and institutions that they see thwarting their agenda. According to tax records, O’Keefe was paid 240K in 2015 and 317k in 2016. Here is the 990 form for his tax exempt “charity” also gives the volunteers and paid operatives an opportunity to “stick it to the libs.” One right wing conservative group, called Turning Point USA, is currently using the O’Keefe model to attack teachers and universities.
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The good news is that the MSM is getting better at detecting O’Keefe’s tricks and turning the tables on them. However, not all groups or institutions targeted have the ability to thwart the scammers before they do damage. That is why we have to educate ourselves in order to help the groups under attack. It is possible to prepare for them, and, if they miss the opportunity to thwart the attacks, how to seek redress afterwards.
O’Keefe’s incompetence allows us to see the method to his mendacity. This story from Jane Mayer in the New Yorker describes his attempt to sting Open Society Foundation, a George Soros pro-democracy group. Listen as he unwittingly leaves a voicemail describing his entire plan to the person he was targeting at the Open Society Foundation.
1) They distribute a mix of lies and manufactured evidence with some facts
One of the important things I learned at James O’Keefe University (AKA a seminar in an airport hotel), is that while their most damning “evidence” is usually manufactured, sometimes they do catch real people, breaking laws, violating the rights of others or just not living up to the stated values of the group.
Groups that are under attack don’t always respond rationally in a crisis. One mistake is firing or demanding the resignation of the people accused before the full story can come out. When this happens the right wing attackers win.
In some cases it is absolutely correct to fire someone or to demand a resignation. But the attacking groups count on an instant response, usually from someone caught on camera, off guard and while in public.
If you are in this position when first hearing an allegation, ask to see the results of the full investigation of everything, including the source of allegations
2) O’Keefe teaches groups to hold back some supporting evidence to use after the story first breaks in the MSM.
O’Keefe is hoping the media (or an organization) will defend the accused before seeing the entire story. If they do, he then rolls out some new information that supports the first revelation.
The goal of this action is not just to embarrass the liberal media, but to keep the scandal going for another news cycle. O’Keefe has learned that he can offer the unedited raw tapes, but no one has time to go through them all. (A line used by O’Keefe on Sam Seder.)
Although O’Keefe’s tricks are now known by national media, a group using O’Keefe methods can still push a story forward in regional media especially if they aren’t aware of the group’s methods and intent.
In addition, while O’Keefe and other groups still crave the attention of the MSM, they now go straight to YouTube with their narrative, which is then promoted on social media to their base.
Ask that all evidence to be seen, sourced and vetted, but expect it won’t happen in a timely fashion.
Prepare your own social media response until the media can weigh in.
3) They want allies of the person/group under attack to either disavow or defend them
The mainstream media will go to the allies of the group under attack looking for a comment after an allegation. If you are under attack, brief your allies ASAP. They especially like to go to government officials because the media quote them.
Remind your allies that other media will call. They need to be prepared. I’ve found that not all allies are equally sophisticated when it comes to talking to the media. The attackers often pitch the story to RW media with a list of people and organizations to call. They are looking for the weakest link.
Allies: Get the facts before you react.
I don’t like burning up the keyboard talking about O’Keefe, Turning Point and their mendacious moles, but it’s very possible you or a friend in a progressive organization will be under attack from them and will need to respond.
The right counts on people being unaware of their tricks and the MSM to act a certain way. But as the Washington Post has shown, it is possible to turn the tables on them and flip the narrative.
Coming next: You’ve been attacked by O’Keefe’s moles, now what do you do?
1) Identify them
2) Catch them in the act with video and other independent evidence
3) Inform others about them
a. Mock them (Optional, but fun)
4) Press charges to have them arrested for the crimes they commit (prepare for their plea bargains to lower criminal charges)
5) Sue them and their funders in civil court for damages
I’ll have examples from each step.