Conservative provocateur who tried to plant fake stories in The Washington Post says it’s OK to lie if you’re lying to journalists

James O'Keefe

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James O’Keefe
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Stewart F. House/Getty Images

  • Right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe said his undercover staff are encouraged to deceive and lie to reporters.
  • O’Keefe was exposed for lying to The Washington Post last year, in an apparent attempt to plant a false story during the Alabama special Senate election.

OXON HILL, Maryland – Conservative provocateur and media personality James O’Keefe, who is famous for his undercover videos attempting to expose left-wing bias and corruption at institutions and news outlets, said lying in the process of obtaining a story is ethical, including the plot to plant a false story in The Washington Post.

At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington, O’Keefe participated in a panel titled “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.” The panel featured O’Keefe, fired Google employee James Damore, and others, who said large technology companies like Facebook and Twitter are curtailing conservative voices from inside their platforms’ algorithms.

After the panel concluded, O’Keefe, who runs Project Veritas, told Business Insider that he and his team of undercover activists do not lie to the public, but find it entirely acceptable to deceive the subjects of his stories.

“Deception is to get the meeting. We never lie to the American people,” O’Keefe said. “We only tell the truth to the American people. We never deceive the masses, ever. Period.”

O’Keefe added that he never intended to plant a false story in The Washington Post, despite a detailed report from the newspaper chronicling one of his employees attempting to persuade reporters that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore had impregnated her as a teenager.

“We never intended to plant a false story,” O’Keefe said. “It was always the intent to get a meeting and that was it.”

Rather, O’Keefe said that their intention was to discuss politics with the Post reporters in an attempt to expose liberal bias. O’Keefe acknowledged that the sting was a failure and that “reporters sometimes are successful and sometimes are not.”

“It was in the meeting to have a conversation, that’s it. That’s the extent of it,” O’Keefe added. “And I would happily go under oath in a court of law to say what I just said, as would my undercover people – as with my journalists. The media lied. The media lied.”

The Post chronicled O’Keefe’s employee, Jaime T. Phillips, in her plan to convince the newspaper to publish her account at the height of the Alabama special election last year, in which Moore’s campaign was embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct by several women, some of whom were teenagers at the time of the incidents.

“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron in November.

“But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”