Tag Archives: Breitbart News

Project Veritas’ YouTube sting was deeply misleading — and successful

Project Veritas’ YouTube sting was deeply misleading — and successful
James O’Keefe’s stunt playbook keeps giving conservative lawmakers ammunition, even if the evidence is all phony

By Casey Newton and Russell Brandom
https://www.theverge.com/interface/2019/6/27/18760463/project-veritas-youtube-sting-james-okeefe

My esteemed colleague Russell Brandom leads our policy team. He was struck by the disingenuous response from conservative lawmakers to the most recent video sting from Project Veritas, which presented YouTube employees in an unfair light. Russell asked if he could take over the column today, and I was happy to oblige. I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance at the Aspen Ideas festival.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has been on a tear against Google lately, with the most recent salvo coming this Monday. Like most of O’Keefe’s work, it’s deceptively edited and doesn’t add up to much, but he managed to catch one executive in a pretty poor choice of words. In a hidden camera conversation with Jen Gennai, Google’s Head of Responsible Innovation, the executive is caught saying the following:

Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google. And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that.

If you substitute “Cambridge Analytica” for “Trump Situation,” it’s more or less the argument Facebook and Google have been using to fend off antitrust proposals all year. But if you’re inclined to think the whole media is biased against the president, it was exactly what you’d been waiting to hear. When the video was pulled off YouTube for “privacy violations” the next day, it only fueled the paranoia.

The whole situation would probably have stayed quiet if it weren’t for Ted Cruz, who called out the video in an uncomfortable moment at the Senate Commerce hearing the following day. Cruz was questioning Google UX Director Maggie Stanphill, who was nominally there to speak about dark patterns in interface design. Cruz took her to task for the quote in the video, and then again when he realized she hadn’t actually read the report.

“I would recommend people interested in political bias at Google watch the entire report and judge for yourself,” Cruz said. The clip was then circulated on the usual right wing outlets (Town Hall, Breitbart, PJ Media), and got a minor replay from the Homeland Security Committee the next day. After that last hearing, the scandal grew big enough that YouTube decided to issue an official denial, saying simply “we apply our policies fairly and without political bias.”

It’s embarrassing that Congress took this so seriously, and no one wants to give it any more attention than it deserves. But O’Keefe has played this trick over and over, so it’s worth breaking down exactly what’s happening here.

To start with, there’s a fairly straightforward reason why the Veritas video was banned. YouTube’s privacy guidelines ban videos that identify people who don’t want to be identified. There are exceptions for newsworthiness and public figures, but the Veritas video is clearly on the wrong side of the rule. The offending footage is the hidden-camera video of Gennai, who is no one’s idea of a public figure, and obviously didn’t consent to be in the video.

Even if you see Veritas as making a newsworthy point about platform bias, it’s hard to argue that including Gennai’s name and face was necessary to make that point. (Hidden camera footage used on broadcast news typically blurs out faces for exactly this reason.) Given the general temperament of Veritas subscribers, one can only imagine the kind of abuse that’s been pointed at Gennai in the days since the video went live.

This sort of takedown happens often enough that we can assume most YouTubers are aware of them, to say nothing of reporters covering YouTube moderation issues. It’s hard to believe O’Keefe was walking into this blind — just like it’s hard to believe he wasn’t aware that YouTube was scheduled for a run of congressional hearings in the days after the video posted. He was daring YouTube to ban him, knowing that it would elevate a mediocre scoop into two days of congressional berating.

The point wasn’t to force YouTube into better policies or more consistent enforcement. It was simply brute force, letting executives know that every time someone in the conservative clique has trouble with YouTube, there will be a lawmaker ready to sweat them over it. Each time it happens, Google gets a little more gun-shy dealing with high-profile policy violations, whether it’s Alex Jones or Steven Crowder. And as long as the trick keeps working, O’Keefe and Cruz will keep doing it.

Project Veritas seemingly caught feeding false Moore accusations to Washington Post

Project Veritas seemingly caught feeding false Moore accusations to Washington Post
By Cristiano Lima
https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/27/project-veritas-moore-washington-post-261023

Project Veritas, an organization run by conservative activist James O’Keefe, appears to have been get caught trying to pass false sexual misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore to The Washington Post, extending its history of deploying deceptive tactics to try to ensnare news organizations in controversy.

The newspaper reported Monday that a woman who falsely told its reporters she had been impregnated by the embattled GOP candidate as a teenager was seen entering the offices of the organization in New York, seemingly tipping the group’s hand in its efforts to bait The Post into publishing uncorroborated accusations against Moore.

After a series of interviews with the woman, The Post report said, the newspaper opted not to publish the explosive yet unverified claims. It noted that during the meetings, the purported accuser repeatedly solicited the reporters for opinions on whether her claims would damage Moore in Alabama’s special election on Dec. 12.

Moore, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is locked in a struggle for political survival after a spate of recent allegations of sexual misconduct with minors when he was in his 30s.

Project Veritas released a series of videos Monday depicting interactions between Post reporters and O’Keefe at the group’s headquarters. In several clips, Post reporters can be seen approaching members of Project Veritas. The members ignore the reporters’ questions, instead hinting at a string of damaging videos the organization promises to reveal.

Project Veritas later on Monday began posting unverified interactions between the organization and members of The Post. The videos refer to the newspaper as the “American Pravda,” a reference to the news arm of the former Soviet Union.

Led by O’Keefe, the organization is known for carrying out hidden-camera interviews in which it looks to lure members of established news outlets into making supposedly compromising ethical statements. It has been criticized for deceptively editing footage to misrepresent the subjects’ comments.

In 2010, O’Keefe was sued for his videos involving members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) purportedly discussing illegal activities. O’Keefe later apologized for the series and paid $100,000 in a settlement.

O’Keefe was commissioned in 2009 by Andrew Breitbart, founder of the popular conservative news site currently led by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Bannon and Breitbart News are among Moore’s staunchest political allies and defenders.