okeefebreitbartConservative filmmaker James O'Keefe says that a CNN reporter who exposed his alleged plot to seduce her on a boat "was never going to be placed in a threatening situation."
O'Keefe offered his explanation of events Monday on Big Government and Big Journalism, two right-leaning websites run by publisher and provocateur Andrew Breitbart.
Breitbart, who wrote Friday that the activist "owes his supporters an explanation," told The Upshot today that he's only had a "cursory glance" at O'Keefe's explanation but expects it to be truthful. "James O'Keefe has never lied to me," Breitbart said. He added that O'Keefe is now "being challenged by mainstream media that cares more about taking down James O'Keefe than it does al-Qaida."
But it's not only the mainstream media that's concerned with O'Keefe. Politico's Ken Vogel reported Monday that even some leading conservatives have turned on O'Keefe over allegations he tried to seduce a reporter on camera. Since last fall, conservatives have lauded O'Keefe for his video stunts aimed at scoring political points against long-running conservative targets, including community-organizing group ACORN. He first got on the media's radar in Sept. 2009 through his undercover videos posing as a "pimp" outside ACORN offices (and "boyfriend" inside) — several clips of which ran on Big Government — and earlier this year for entering Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses.
Last week, CNN investigative correspondent Abbie Boudreau said she learned of the boat plot while working on "Right on the Edge," a documentary about young conservatives. "Recently, I was the target of a failed punk," Boudreau wrote. "James O'Keefe, the so-called 'pimp' in the ACORN exposé videos, was participating in a detailed plan to 'faux' seduce me on his boat."
Boudreau reported that Izzy Santa, one of O'Keefe's colleagues, warned her that a scheduled face-to-face meeting with O'Keefe was really a setup for a prank.
She later obtained "CNN Caper," a 13-page document with details about the hidden-camera seduction plot. The list of equipment and props needed included "hidden cams on the boat," "condom jar," Alicia Keys music, " ceiling mirror," "posters and paintings of naked women," "Playboys and pornographic magazines," "candles," "Viagra and stamina pills," "fuzzy handcuffs," and a "blindfold."
Boudreau wrote that she didn't get on the boat after arriving at the Maryland residence to meet O'Keefe and Santa. However, O'Keefe — who had been on the boat docked behind the house — got off to speak with Boudreau before leaving.
You can watch Boudreau's report below:
So how does O'Keefe explain the "CNN Caper?"
O'Keefe writes that the CNN prank was pitched to him, and he "liked the basic absurdity of meeting Abbie Boudreau on a boat and the idea of counter-seduction satire executed in a tame, humorous, non-threatening manner." However, O'Keefe claims that he "was repulsed by the over-the-top language and symbolism that was suggested in the memo that was sent to me, and never considered that for a moment."
"In my version, the reporter was never going to be placed in a threatening situation," O'Keefe wrote. "She would have had to consent before being filmed and she was not going to be faux 'seduced' unless she wanted to be. If a CNN reporter would be willing to engage in such a folly, it might even be more newsworthy than Rick Sanchez's firing."
O'Keefe claims that the "CNN Caper" was "never going to be implemented as written."
And yet Santa, who was at the house on the day in question, clearly believed that O'Keefe was going through with it. That's why she apparently went to Boudreau. Still, O'Keefe now says he wasn't in earnest about the scheme and explains that Santa "was simply trying to protect me and the organization from a dangerous and objectionable plan, one sent to me in my personal emails that she assumed, wrongly, and probably due to my own lack of communication to her, that I was going to implement."
Breitbart, reached in New York City, where he just wrapped up a taping for the first episode of CNN's "Parker Spitzer," said that he's been in transit most of Monday and only quickly read the explanation.
"When I heard he issued one, I asked to put it up on our site," Breitbart said. "I don't have a strong opinion on it. Other than a cursory glance, I haven't thought about it."
Breitbart said that "it's his explanation" and added that he trusts O'Keefe not to lie to him.
Despite the claims of critics, Breitbart also pointed out that he is "not part of [O'Keefe's] inner sanctum" and therefore isn't involved in the production or planning for his videos.
UPDATE: Boudreau responds in a statement to The Upshot: "I am not interested in debating James O'Keefe about what his plans were for me on his boat. His statement reinforces what we reported in our documentary."
Correction: This article originally stated the O'Keefe posed as a pimp inside ACORN's offices. That is incorrect. He actually posed as the "prostitute's" boyfriend when speaking to ACORN staffers inside while wearing an outlandish "pimp" outfit outside in the video clips. Also, O'Keefe did not plead guilty to phone tampering -- as the post originally stated -- but entering Landrieu's office under false pretenses.
(Photo O'Keefe, standing, along with Breitbart and colleague Hannah Giles at a news conference in Oct. 2009: AP/ Haraz N. Ghanbari)