You’ve probably already heard about the latest in a long string of failed stings from the tragically hilarious Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe. In the event you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown:
The Washington Post was approached by a woman, whose name appears to be Jaime Phillips, with an allegation against the republican candidate for one of Alabama’s senate seats, Roy Moore. Her story claimed Moore had impregnated her as a teenager and drove her to Mississippi for an abortion procedure.
Because the Post engages in investigative journalism with qualified professionals, Phillips’ tale eventually unraveled; not only did she litter the work of fiction with countless inconsistencies, but she failed to properly scrub her digital footprint. One item revealing her true identity was a crowdfund setup with the goal of helping her relocate to New York City for “work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceit of the liberal MSM,” and indicators of ulterior motives included frequent repositioning of a purse—containing a hidden camera—which she always brought to meetings with journalists.
As these issues piled up, the Post suspected a possible ruse being created by Project Veritas, which was confirmed once the paper’s reporters witnessed Phillips entering Veritas’ office. O’Keefe, of course, deflected any and all questions from Post reporters once Phillips’ true identity and purpose had been revealed, though the clear failure of the operation didn’t dissuade him from declaring success while frantically posting edited, undercover videos he felt exposed lies from the Post.
(After the initial investigation, further digging revealed that Phillips had spent months trying to make inroads with various reporters from outlets both big and small. People involved were able to recall her appearance at social gatherings for reporters, messages she'd sent while pretending to be an up-and-coming journalist, and one person even discovered she had rented his downstairs basement via AirBNB.)
Little time should be spent on the videos O’Keefe has since published; they amount to recordings of one Post employee saying he disagrees with some opinions published in the opinions section of the paper—shocking!—and another of a Post employee saying it hasn’t yet been proven Donald Trump colluded with Russia, which is factually true. Both videos were released with claims of groundbreaking information, the former alleged to prove the Post is publishing propaganda, and the latter supposedly evidence Robert Mueller’s investigation is a witch hunt.
In short, the best O’Keefe could come up with when his grand scheme crumbled before his eyes was to invoke right-wing outrage towards the idea journalists disagree with journalists, and a journalist correctly stating the investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump and the Kremlin hasn’t yet confirmed a direct link.
Ultimately, O’Keefe’s efforts served only the media he’s devoted his life to crafting a narrative against. His intent was twofold; O’Keefe hoped his longstanding belief in all journalists being as void of integrity as himself would payoff with the Post publishing an allegation he could overturn with a well-timed reveal, and the aftermath would discredit any further allegations published in media outlets beyond the right-wing bubble.
The result instead solidified the veracity of the Post’s reporting on previous allegations against Roy Moore. O’Keefe’s big payoff was the Post being proven to fully vet and investigate any information brought before their journalists, only publishing that which can withstand high scrutiny.
In a way, the biggest victim of O’Keefe’s hubris became the right-wing mythos itself.
A common refrain among the kind of people swept up in the cult of Trumpism has been the idea of false rape accusations. Check any male-dominated social media hub, and you’ll find a hyper-focus on the exceedingly rare instances in which an allegation was proven to be falsified.
The above screenshot comes from Reddit, where the rarity of false rape accusations means the same right-wing blog post had to be submitted three times in four days just so insecure men could feel they had unimpeachable proof of their claims that all rapes are fake news. In fact, false rape accusations lie somewhere below 7% of all rapes reported to authorities—and even that number may be inflated due to a lack of unified reporting systems between law enforcement agencies.
Where politics becomes involved, the narrative shifts slightly; all rape accusations against whichever politician you’re currently supporting—say, for example, Roy Moore—must clearly be a well-orchestrated ruse by political opponents.
Above, you’ll see results from /r/The_Donald, the biggest online organizer of support for Trump, and of harassment campaigns against his detractors. The sources used to claim Roy Moore’s accusers are lying? Unsourced, unverified images likely produced by anonymous message boards, far-right blog Gateway Pundit (which has its own issues with the truth), and the show known best for selling lead-filled supplements to its audience: InfoWars.
None of the allegations against Roy Moore have been disproven at this point. The only instance of a false accusation was never published as a legitimate accusation, and originated from a high-profile, right-wing agent and one of his employees. If O’Keefe hoped to prove rape accusations are widely fabricated, the result was instead highlighting the GOP willingly funds false rape accusers against its own candidates.
No, I wasn’t exaggerating; the O’Keefe sting was funded directly by the right-wing apparatus it was meant to benefit.
In 2015, two donations of $10,000 were made to O’Keefe’s Project Veritas from the Donald J. Trump foundation. Given the repeated spreading of O’Keefe’s work by Donald Jr.—something even his father has engaged in—and the president’s never-ending insinuation of all news being fake unless it agrees with his views, the family funding a well-known purveyor of false propaganda shouldn’t be surprising.
Equally lacking in surprise is a direct investment from billionaire and far-right political boss Robert Mercer. The same year in which O’Keefe attempted to commit voter fraud in New Hampshire and failed to implicate the son of a Virginia democrat in admitting to voter fraud, Project Veritas received $25,000 from the same Mercer-owned cutout which had been funding Breitbart News.
You may recognize Mercer from his many tentacles throughout the political scene, from funding opposition of campaign finance laws, to Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon and several others within the Trump operational sphere, and running a company specializing in the development of individual psychological profiles used to influence voters’ decisions with a rapid adaptability. Essentially, Robert Mercer’s existence has culminated towards psychological warfare through the fabrication of falsified propaganda and a microscopic targeting to give the GOP an unprecedented edge in winning political contests, while directly funding the right-wing contestants most likely to destroy society itself. (Sure explains why he’s racked up a $7,000,000,000 bill in unpaid taxes.)
Two names you may not recognize are DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. The former is a non-profit aimed at increasing the power of libertarians and conservatives in political power, funded by everyone from Betsy DeVos to Charles and David Koch; the latter operates in conjunction with the former. Both funds take place at the top of the list of donors to Project Veritas, funneling over a million dollars into the organization.
There’s undoubtedly more money involved in Project Veritas, which will be discovered as investigative journalists spend more resources investigating the inevitable failed stings to come. At the moment, however, we know for a fact that James O’Keefe has been funded by every major player in the right-wing hemisphere—including the 45th President of the United States of America—with his official take home salary being at least $317,000.
What’s not known is whether any money ties James O’Keefe to Roy Moore. Robert Mercer publicly stepped away from his company and sold his shares in Breitbart to his daughters, one of whom—Rebekah—hasn’t shied from supporting Steve Bannon. (Not much is known about his two other daughters.) But Robert also admitted wrongdoing in funding and lending credence to disgraced ex-Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos after the latter transformed from a run-of-the-mill conservative propagandist to a public defender of pedophilia; no evidence has surfaced which so far shows anyone in the Mercer family supporting Roy Moore before or after the revelations regarding his alleged molestation and stalking of underage girls.
Nor is there anything indicating the Koch brothers have injected funding into the Moore campaign, which is, in fact, surprising, considering how the Koch brothers seemingly hand out money to any political candidate who flies the GOP flag.
When the Washington Post questioned O’Keefe on camera, he refused to answer any questions on whether he was working with or being paid by Trump or Moore for this specific operation. It would be irresponsible to assume he’s working in conjunction with either man with no substantiating evidence—save for the donations from Trump’s charity in 2015 and Trump Jr.’s continued promotion of O’Keefe’s work—but one statement is of interest: Moore’s threat of litigation.
Roy Moore threatened to sue the Washington Post after their initial story in early November of allegations from women who say he molested or raped them as teenagers, and has repeated these threats as each new report surfaces. Yet, almost four days after O’Keefe’s scheme fell apart, Moore hasn’t made a single comment about the actual, legitimately false rape allegation O’Keefe tried to spread—let alone any threat of a lawsuit.
Considering how Moore has devoted much of his campaign to making himself appear as a tough, strong-arming savior who never backs down, there’s a definite peculiarity to the lack of attention he’s given this situation.
In James’ case, he should hope nobody is looking to sue anytime soon, since he might have trouble getting funds in the future.