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A Washington Legal Scandal for the MAGA Media Era

james o'keefe
James O’Keefe of Project Veritas. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
September 19, 2022

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, so it’s only fitting that Washington is once again salivating over a case that explores the boundaries between political subterfuge and investigative journalism. I’m talking, of course, about Democracy Partners v. Project Veritas, the latest in a series of lawsuits targeting Project Veritas and its crusading founder, James O’Keefe, over their infiltration of left-leaning organizations. At the trial, which began Thursday and is now headed for a dramatic finish, a jury will decide if Project Veritas engaged in legitimate journalism, like what Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein pursued once upon a time, or rather nefarious political spying, similar to those Richard Nixon-connected burglars who once broke into D.N.C. headquarters. It’s Watergate, the remix.

Project Veritas was founded by O’Keefe in 2010 to capitalize on his blockbuster undercover video recordings targeting ACORN, a liberal grassroots organization, that were selectively edited to discredit their work helping low-income communities. The videos, which O’Keefe promoted by dressing up as a pimp, transformed the then 25-year-old activist into a star of the Fox News cinematic universe. ACORN filed for bankruptcy soon afterwards.