Fox News has been one of the biggest supporters of James O’Keefe, who is infamous for dressing up as a pimp and videotaping ACORN staffers offering to help the supposed pimp and his prostitutes secure funding for a brothel. The network constantly replayed coverage from his operation. In September, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace named O’Keefe his “Power Player of the Week,” calling him an “undercover reporter” and a “fascinating character.”
Yesterday, the FBI arrested O’Keefe and three others — “charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony” — saying that they were plotting to wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office (D-LA). One of the other men, Robert Flanagan, is the son of William Flanagan, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. Two of the men “dressed as telephone company employees” and showed up to Landrieu’s New Orleans office, saying they had to “fix phone problems.” O’Keefe was already there and was “positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation”:
After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.
They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and both went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials, after which they stated they left them in their vehicle. The U.S. Marshal’s Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.
Fox News aired a report about the arrests shortly after the news broke. However, reporter Tim Gaughan tried to downplay the news:
GAUGHAN: [It’s a] very weird story that probably needs a lot of context and a lot of looking into, which is what we’re going to do here. I just wanted to get it on the record with it right now.
SHEP SMITH: So, they’re saying basically, they’re in there — It sounds as if what they’re saying is, they’re looking for some ACORN hanky panky and they try to tap into Mary Landrieu’s telephone to get it.
GAUGHAN: That could be one way of looking at it, yes.
Ironically, at the end of the Power Player segment in September, Wallace said, “O’Keefe says he wants to do more undercover films, and he has some targets in mind. He says his friends always tell him the next sting will never work.” “I disagree with them,” replied O’Keefe. “I think that I’ll come up with a new strategy and I’ll get them to say yes.” Looks like O’Keefe’s friends were right.
Andrew Breitbart’s site Big Government, which helped make O’Keefe a star and pays him to be a contributor, claims that it had no knowledge of what the four individuals were up to. Michelle Malkin writes, “They are, of course, presumed innocent until proven guilty. But for now, let it be a lesson to aspiring young conservatives interested in investigative journalism: ‘Know your limits. Know the law. Don’t get carried away. And don’t become what you are targeting.'” Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey said, “Journalists don’t tap phones, and if that’s what he tried, he’s an idiot.”
,The AP reports that a magistrate “set bond at $10,000 each after they made their initial court appearances wearing red prison jumpsuits. None of the defendants commented on the allegations in court. ‘It was poor judgment,’ Robert Flanagan’s lawyer, Garrison Jordan, said in a brief interview outside the courthouse. ‘I don’t think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime.'”