Pimps, Lies, and Videotapes

Inside Andrew Breitbart’s and James O’Keefe’s right-wing video fantasy factory.

Courtesy Fox News, CNN

Ever since ACORN was taken down by a bad pimp costume and a hidden camera, right-wing media mogul Andrew Breitbart and provocateur James O’Keefe have discovered that by the time their work is exposed as disingenuously edited hit jobs, the damage is done, and their brand has been boosted. As Breitbart told the AP, “I’m committed to the destruction of the old media guard. And it’s a very good business model.” Read the editors’ note, “Why Do We Keep Falling for O’Keefe’s Smear Jobs?” here. Below, their stings to date.

targets exposed! cutting-room
ACORN Community organizers helping an outrageously dressed pimp with “child prostitution, human trafficking and tax evasion.” O’Keefe didn’t wear a pimp costume in ACORN offices; ACORN later cleared of criminal wrongdoing. Posted videos and gave them to Fox News; took credit: “I’m the guy that brought down ACORN.” Yes Yes ACORN lost federal funds, went bankrupt.
Sen. Mary
Attempted “probe” of the senator’s phones to see if she was ignoring calls about Obamacare. Video seized when FBI arrested O’Keefe (PDF) for impersonating a phone-
company worker.
Disavowed any connection, but admitted O’Keefe was on his payroll at the time. Yes No O’Keefe sentenced to 3 years probation.
US Census Falsified timesheets “costing taxpayers an estimated $10,000,000.” Full video exposed sloppiness, not massive corruption. Posted videos. Yes No None
Black USDA official boasting of racism at an NAACP event. True, pro-racial- harmony message of Sherrod’s speech. Posted video one week after NAACP criticized tea party’s racial politics. No Yes Sherrod fired and now suing Breitbart.
O’Keefe tries to lure Boudreau on a yacht for a “counter-seduction satire.” Plan failed when female colleague of O’Keefe warned Boudreau. Called O’Keefe’s plan “patently gross and offensive.” Yes No None
PP staffers helping pimp with child sex trafficking. PP staffers alerted the Feds to impostor. Promoted videos by Lila Rose, an O’Keefe protégé. No No One PP staffer fired; no charges against PP.
Public Radio
NPR fundraisers caught wooing Muslim donors, slagging tea partiers. NPR exec says he’s a disaffected GOPer and quotes others like him. Didn’t post video, but praised O’Keefe’s tactics. Yes No Two NPR executives axed, NPR federal funding in jeopardy.
O’Keefe cronies get ballots by posing as recently deceased voters, showing “the integrity of the elections process is severely comprised.” Oops—asking for a ballot using a false name is a crime, even if you don’t cast a vote. Not involved, but defended O’Keefe on Twitter. Yes No Prosecutors could pursue state and federal voter fraud charges.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.