James O’Keefe is a conservative activist who likes to play dress up, pretend to be someone he’s not, and get random people at big organizations to say things he then takes out of context and uses as political propaganda. (He’d describe himself as more of an investigative journalist who, with his Project Veritas organization, performs elaborate stings to reveal liberal bias.)
His major success in doing this was back in 2009; his deceptively edited video got ACORN, a 40-year-old voter registration and low-income community advocacy organization, shut down. Since the resulting lawsuit proved his video was deceptive and he agreed to pay the fired employee $100,000 to settle it, most mainstream media has largely ignored his (illegal) shenanigans.
The exception has been when his ineptitude warrants mockery, like the time he accidentally stung himself with a seven-minute voicemail left on a target’s answering machine explaining how they’d attempt to sting the George Soros-funded organization. Or that time when he unsuccessfully tried to trick the Washington Post in to a running a false accusation of sexual assualt — in an attempt to discredit the multiple well-corroborated allegations that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore had pursued sexual relations with underage girls when he was in his 30s — that only served to increase the credibility of the Washington Post's reporting. (In case you were wondering what kind of journalistic ethics O’Keefe might claim to have.)
For the last few years, to little effect, CNN has been O’Keefe’s biggest target, and his newest video has the climate denial community excited. And although no one with any editorial standards seems to have covered it, the Daily Wire, New York Post and Sinclair Media have.
Supposedly, according to the CNN staffer who may or may not sound like he’s feeling the effects of the alcohol he’s drinking as he’s trying to impress a woman he thinks he’s dating but is actually a Project Veritas employee: CNN is definitely responsible for Trump getting voted out of office, and word has come down from the top that once the public is done with COVID-19, CNN will turn its focus to climate change and they’ll “milk that quite a bit” because it’s “a pandemic-like story that we’ll beat to death, but that one’s got longevity.”
You can watch it on Twitter if you want to see how snippets of conversation during a half-dozen “dates” can be stitched together, because Twitter apparently has no problem with career liars like O’Keefe spreading their propaganda on the platform. [Edit: Mere hours after this was published, Twitter banned O’Keefe’s account for “platform manipulation and spam”. Coincidence? Probably...]
So we’re conflicted, because we really want this to be true. There are few subjects more deserving of CNN’s massive resources and audience’s attention than the climate crisis, and they have recently announced a climate desk, to build on some other great work they’ve done.
But the fact that it’s being featured in a Project Veritas video means the opposite is likely true, and network head Jeff Zucker still believes as he does in 2014, that people won’t watch climate content, and CNN will continue to only rarely cover this existential threat to people and planet, and adopt Big Oil’s framing when they do...that is, unless there's another missing plane.
Either way, a word of warning, and let's be honest, we're talking to the bros in our readership right here: As we do come out of social isolation, be careful of attractive people who are inexplicably interested in hearing your nerdy, mediocre self vent and complain about your work at a “liberal” organization in DC or New York.
This is doubly true if they’re thin on their own life history and personal details, and always happen to have their phone out and inconspicuously pointed in your general direction.
Oh, and they probably don't like your podcast either.