Monday, February 17, 2014

Veritas liberabit

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, journalism

It has been said in several ways; in the instance I know, a good friend was advised, "A real journalist must be prepared to spend time in jail." Baronet Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." The logical conclusion is that all those in power are corrupt. It is the experience of any who have in any way embarrassed a powerful person that this is totally true. Of course I understand that being opposed or jailed by officialdom is no proof that you are right. But a lifetime spent as a "journalist" while never ruffling the feathers of the powerful is a certain proof of being, as O'Keefe names such people, an "anti-journalist".

Now, suppose you were to make it your business to be a modern Diogenes (he of the lantern, looking for "an honest man" — one who could gaze without flinching). You shed the light of day upon what you find. Maybe you submit your videos, uncut, to YouTube. What will be the result?

Just ask James O'Keefe, founder of Project Veritas. He has a few years of this under his belt, as he describes in Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy. Since he began practice as a citizen journalist (that is, self-funded), he has spent about half the time under house arrest, and odd bits of time jailed here or there.

From the beginning, O'Keefe and his allies have carried out their investigations without breaking any laws, and recording every bit, and posting every bit, which demonstrates that. For example, while testing the ease of committing voter fraud in several states, none of them ever actually took in hand a ballot offered in response to a carefully worded request in the name of a dead person or of a non-citizen who was registered to vote. In most cases, the operative would say, "Wait while I go back to my car for my passport" or "...driver license" or whatever. They were always (always!) assured, "You don't need that. We take your word." This was true even when one of them approached a poll worker in D.C. and asked, "You got a ballot for Eric Holder?" Offered the ballot, he demurred, and left. Amazingly, Holder (you know, the U.S. Attorney General) later said no law had been broken. That punctured the sails of numerous pompous officials who wanted the operative, and O'Keefe, and anyone else they could get their hands on, "prosecuted to the full extent of the law." That is what such folks say when they have been blindsided.

The breakthrough of the title is described in detail in the closing chapters of the book. Project Veritas folks shined the light of truth on the mainstream media, and found them wanting, found them as corrupt as the governmental officials they had been steadfastly refusing to investigate, even as they persistently hounded O'Keefe and his allies, endlessly recounting crimes that had not actually been committed.

You have to read it to believe it.

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