Amid failed ‘sting operation’ against Washington Post, Project Veritas founder to speak at SMU
Just days after national outcry against Project Veritas’ failed “undercover sting operation” in which a member of the activist organization falsely claimed to a Washington Post reporter that she was impregnated as a teenager by Roy Moore, the organization’s founder is set to speak on campus Wednesday.
Founder James O’Keefe will appear in the Hughes Trigg Theater Wednesday night at 7 p.m., to speak out against “fake news” and “bias in American mainstream media” as a part of programming by the Young Americans for Freedom.
The event will continue as scheduled, Young Americans for Freedom confirmed Tuesday, despite widespread condemnation of the speaker.
The Washington Post reported Monday that a woman approached reporters saying that she “might know something” about Roy Moore, the Republican candidate running for Alabama Senate who has been accused by several women of sexually harassing them as teenagers while Moore was district attorney.
The woman, Jaime Phillips, “shared a false story about an alleged sexual relationship in 1992 with Moore” which led to an abortion at age 15. Phillips also prodded journalists to say her allegations could sink Moore’s political prospects.
Reporters began to grow skeptical of inconsistencies in Phillips’ story. Then, a Post researcher discovered a GoFundMe page, started by a Jaime Phillips, seeking donations to move to New York for “a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt [sic] of the liberal MSM.”
When confronted, Phillips provided reporters with more inconsistencies.
Post reporters spotted Phillips entering the Project Veritas office on Monday.
When questioned if Phillips was a Project Veritas employee, founder James O’Keefe initially refused to answer.
He later sent an email to supporters with the title “Our Cover is Blown!” in which he admitted that Phillips was a Project Veritas employee — calling her an “investigative journalist embedded within [The Washington Post].”
In response to the national outcry against the failed sting operation, the SMU Young Americans for Freedom issued a statement Tuesday about the event.
In the statement, the campus organization said, “We look forward to an open, robust exchange of ideas at our event tomorrow evening.”
The event, which is free to attend and open to the public, is scheduled to have a Q&A session at the end.
The event description on Facebook boasts that Project Veritas has “exposed voter fraud, corruption at ACORN, bias at NPR, racial discrimination at Planned Parenthood, corruption at Enroll America and Battleground Texas, incompetence in Medicaid, hypocritical Hollywood environmentalists, Al Sharpton, the heartbreaking failures of the VA, and lawbreaking in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Critics, however, say that O’Keefe selectively edits his “undercover sting” videos to misrepresent subjects, implicating them in crimes or misdeeds that they did not commit.
In the case of “corruption” at ACORN, a nonprofit for persons of low and moderate income, government investigations found that O’Keefe had misrepresented the employees in his video.
The videos appear to show employees of offering him advice on how to avoid detection of tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution. O’Keefe selectively edited and manipulated the videos and distorted their chronologies. One employee, who was fired, sued O’Keefe for invasion of privacy. He issued an apology and agreed to pay a settlement of $100,000.
Project Veritas has used this “undercover” method to incriminate high-ranking politicians, journalists and government workers.
In 2010, O’Keefe pleaded guilty to entering the federal office of then-U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) under false pretenses. He alleged that he and other Project Veritas activists had entered the office to investigate accusations that “Landrieu’s office had ignored phone calls from constituents” during debate over the Affordable Care Act.
Young Americans for Freedom says that it has “never encouraged student activists to pursue undercover investigations.”
“Our hope is that this event serves as a platform for fruitful and interesting discussion on campus about political journalism,” the campus organization’s president, Grant Wolf, said in an email.