Is this the best the right-wing press critics can do?
In principle, I'm all for James O'Keefe's guerrilla campaign to destroy the media establishment. The more rough handling journalists receive, the better for them and the better for readers. But the hidden-camera sortie O'Keefe and his Project Veritas' "To Catch a Journalist" series just flew against Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein fails miserably. It ends up making Stein look normal and O'Keefe slightly tetched.
The allegedly damaging video footage records Dale Maharidge, a former teacher of Stein's at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, saying that his former student is "old school" and “goes out drinking at night with people." Maharidge then comments, in reference to Stein, “You get some booze in people, and suddenly the stories start to flow.”
When O'Keefe confronts Stein in a recorded interview, he recasts Maharidge's statement.
"Do you booze your sources up to get a story out of them or get your sources drunk to get information out of them? Because that's what somebody told me," says O'Keefe.
"So you're asking if I get my sources drunk," Stein says.
O'Keefe interrupts, "Specifically to get information out of them."
"Uh, no I don't," Stein responds.
So Stein denies saying something there is no proof of him saying. What a catch!
Even if Stein had told his former teacher that he gets sources soused to pump information out of them, what sort of gotcha would that be? The journalist-source relationship runs both ways, with sources pumping journalists for information and attempting to spin a story in their direction, and a traditional venue for this sort of dance has been the bar. The journalist-source relationship is not unlike the salesman-client relationship or the "Hey, you're cute, can I buy you a drink?" pairing. Both parties want something and think that it's to their advantage to add spiritual lubricants into the mix. The only thing O'Keefe has accomplished with his "To Catch a Journalist" expose is to prove that Stein is a conventional journalist.