Conservative media provocateur James O’Keefe got himself in hot water earlier this month after a stunt in New Hampshire that sought to expose voter fraud, but potentially may have committed voter fraud in the process. Now, O’Keefe is firing back as his alleged accusers, suing the New Jersey Star-Ledger for defamation. A press release from O’Keefe’s Project Veritas :
The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial board reported O’Keefe “committed a felony by fraudulently obtaining a ballot in the name of another person; [broke] New Hampshire law by recording another person.” Additionally the Star-Ledger Editorial board wrote January 22nd, O’Keefe is “still on probation for trying to tap the phone of Sen. Mary Landrieu. The Star-Ledger had previously printed a retraction for this claim on November 3rd, 2010. [...]
“It is my experience that demanding retractions from dishonorable people only leads to dishonorable retractions. Therefore, today I started a campaign to sue media organizations that state or repeat malicious lies about my work.”
Ironically, O’Keefe appears to misrepresent his lawsuit in the press release and misquotes the newspaper he’s accusing of defaming him.
While the press release is headlined, “James O’Keefe Sues the New Jersey Star-Ledger for Defamation after New Hampshire Voter Fraud Exposé,” and the release focuses on that stunt, the actual lawsuit makes no mention of the New Hampshire incident. The complaint instead involves the Star-Ledger’s offhand mention of an unrelated stunt in the editorial, when O’Keefe’s team sought to investigate Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) over a year ago.
O’Keefe accuses the Star-Ledger of reporting that he “committed a felony” in the New Hampshire stunt. But in the editorial on the paper’s website, that charge appears as part of a list under the subheading, “Here’s what else O’Keefe is accused of:” (A version accessed on Nexis reads: “Here’s what else O’Keefe is under investigation for:”).
Moreover, O’Keefe’s press release seems to misquotes the newspaper, if just slightly, swapping “committing” in the original text (both on Nexis and online) for “committed” in the press release. The word appears in quotation marks in the release and makes no indication that the language had been changed. While minor, this casual transposition calls into question the accusation’s accuracy.
The Star-Ledger, meanwhile, is hardly innocent here. The claim about phone tapping appears incorrect; O’Keefe plead guilty to a different, lesser crime.