An Interview With James O’Keefe - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
An Interview With James O’Keefe
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James O’Keefe attends The American Spectator's gala on October 14, 2021. (The American Spectator)

How did you get started as a journalist?

While a student at Rutgers University, I founded the newspaper The Centurion with the goal of exposing wrongdoing on my college campus. My first experience in national journalism was in 2009, when I went undercover inside ACORN offices across the country to expose fraud and rampant corruption. Those undercover videos made national headlines and led to congressional action. Under a Democratic House of Representatives, Democratic Senate, and President Obama, the federal government voted to fully defund ACORN, which led to its bankruptcy soon thereafter.

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What animates your work?

What has motivated me from the very beginning is the pursuit of truth. From a very early age, I noticed that our media was broken and no longer pursuing journalism with the purpose of informing the public. Project Veritas’ work is to do the job that the media refuses to do, with no profit imperative, deception, lies, or propaganda.

What do you feel has been your biggest contribution to independent journalism?

In 2019, we pioneered the “Be Brave. Do Something.” insiders program that enables whistleblowers from public and private institutions to come forward safely when they have evidence of corruption that the American people have a right to know about. The powerful accounts that Project Veritas has published since the program’s inception have arguably been our biggest contribution to independent journalism.

Which of your projects has been the most rewarding for you personally?

Recently, Project Veritas filed several lawsuits against media and Big Tech organizations that defamed us. We are suing the New York Times, CNN, and Twitter, to name a few. We recently won against the New York Times on the motion to dismiss, which puts us in a unique category of plaintiffs to defeat the New York Times in such a significant ruling in the past few decades. I have found that exposing them through litigation and deposition can be equally or even more effective than the other forms we currently employ. We have now established PV Legal, which calls on anyone who has been defamed by powerful organizations to partner with us and file lawsuits to expose media wrongdoing.

You have played a big role in the fight for election integrity. Where do you see the focus of this effort going as we anticipate the midterm elections and the 2024 presidential race?

Project Veritas intends to lead the fight against voter fraud as we have been since our founding. Going into the 2022 and 2024 federal elections, we will have journalists on the ground and whistleblowers coming forward, feeding us crucial information in real-time. We look to focus our efforts on battleground states as well as states where voter fraud is most rampant.

Which investigative journalists past and present do you most admire?

Gunter Wallraff, Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell, and Mike Wallace.

Where is the line for investigative journalism? Is there something you won’t do to get a story?

Project Veritas will never break the law to get a story. We believe that undercover journalism is always ethical, regardless of the accusations that have been made against it. On Project Veritas’ website, there is an extensive list of ethical values that must be followed by all employees.

What advice would you give to young journalists who want to do investigative work?

I advise young Americans who aspire to become journalists to be unafraid. Anyone with a camera can be a journalist; all it takes is courage and willpower. I started off with nothing but a camera and a passion for truth. Project Veritas would not exist if I had not put my blood, sweat, tears, and reputation into this mission — and it’s been well worth it.

You have a new book, American Muckraker: Rethinking Journalism for the 21st Century, coming out. What can readers expect?

American Muckraker is an eye-opening glimpse into the state of journalism as seen by the “muckrakers” who defend press freedoms in a brave new world of video journalism. Readers can expect an academic book with inspiring true stories as well as philosophical knowledge of the ethics and history of journalism. It is meant to set a bedrock foundation in this field — cited in academic circles — about what it really means to be a muckraking journalist in the 21st century.

James O’Keefe is the founder and CEO of Project Veritas.

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