Video shows Dem activist bragging about disrupting rallies, voter fraud

Daily News Article - October 21, 2016


1. Define political operative, politico, political dirty tricks, activist and Veritas as used in the article.

2. Who are Robert Creamer and Scott Foval? Be specific. (Also, list the positions each held in Democratic politics)

3. Describe the revelations Creamer and Foval each made to undercover journalists from Project Veritas. (List the specific activities they mention.)

4. a) In response to the release of the videos, what did Democracy Partners accuse Project Veritas of doing?
b) Do you think if the Project Veritas reporters had identified themselves and explained what they were investiging, Creamer and Foval would have given them the information they were asking about? Explain your answer.

5. How did Foval and Creamer respond to the videos’ release?

6. Watch the video. How does Mr. Foval explain/describe “birddogging”?

7. Both men were fired or "stepped back" from the organizations they were with. The Washington Post reporter writes, “while neither man is defending the content of the videos, the editing raises questions about what was said and what may come out later.”

Paul Farhi writes in an October 19 Washington Post commentary “Is it okay for James O’Keefe’s ‘investigative reporting’ to rely on deception?” the following:

The techniques employed by O’Keefe and his associates, they say, fall far outside journalistic norms. Mainstream news organizations discourage the methods that he regularly employs to expose questionable practices, usually by liberals or Democrats.

Among the more problematic is Project Veritas’s associates’ use of aliases and false identities to gain access to the people it stings. The organization acknowledges that its people posed as political donors to trick the two Democratic operatives into speaking with them…

Although variations on such tactics have been employed by news organizations on rare occasions… such deceptions are generally discouraged as a violation of trust between source and reporter.

Andrew Seaman, the chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee, calls O’Keefe “an advocate who uses some of the more controversial items in journalism’s toolbox.”

The Society of Professional Journalist’s ethics code doesn’t forbid undercover reporting, he notes. But it stresses that the methods O’Keefe regularly uses should be a last resort in pursuit of information that is “vital” to the public.

Readers responding to Mr. Farhi’s commentary overwhelmingly disagreed. Read some of the reader comments below:

  1. The resignation of two major DNC operatives following the release of the video suggests that deceptive editing isn't a problem in this case. So maybe it's time for the media to stop focusing on the messenger and start investigating the possibility that the DNC is indeed inciting violence at Trump rallies.
  2. 60 Minutes used to do this type of undercover reporting routinely. I remember watching those reports as far back as the 1970s. They were my favorite parts of the show. When all you can do when the truth is revealed is disparage who revealed it and how, you are dissembling and attempting to mislead the public...
  3. CBS News proudly states this in its online obituary of 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace: "Two of the more famous exposes in this genre that used hidden cameras were investigations of a phony cancer clinic and a laboratory offering Medicaid kickbacks to doctors." Because, don't ya know, there's no ethical hand-wringing at all when CBS does it. Nor does the media hesitate to run with it when someone secretly tapes [2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt] Romney's "47 percent" remark or Trump's "Access Hollywood" comments. Everything's ethical unless it makes a Democrat look bad.

a) What do you think of the assertions made by each reader reacting to the Washington Post commentary? Do they make valid points? Explain your answers.

b) Do conservatives make a legitimate point in asserting that the media would be widely reporting on the videos exposing wrongdoing by political activists if the activists had been Republicans? Explain your answer.