James O'Keefe issued a statement on his arrest, and the subsequent reporting of that arrest, at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog, where O'Keefe's ACORN sting videos were posted last year. In it, O'Keefe corroborates what a law enforcement official recently told reporters: that there was no attempt to wiretap Landrieu's office, and that O'Keefe and associates were trying to see how Landrieu's staff would react if their phones weren't working. He also attacks the media for jumping to conclusions.
Here's his full statement:
The government has now confirmed what has always been clear: No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu's office. Nor did we try to cut or shut down her phone lines. Reports to this effect over the past 48 hours are inaccurate and false.
As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose corruption and lack of concern for citizens by government and other institutions, as I did last year when our investigations revealed the massive corruption and fraud perpetrated by ACORN. For decades, investigative journalists have used a variety of tactics to try to dig out and reveal the truth.
I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu's constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn't want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill. When asked about this, Senator Landrieu's explanation was that, "Our lines have been jammed for weeks." I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for "weeks" because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu's district office - the people's office - to ask the staff if their phones were working.
On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building. The sole intent of our investigation was to determine whether or not Senator Landrieu was purposely trying to avoid constituents who were calling to register their views to her as their Senator. We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I'm eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media.
It has been amazing to witness the journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story. MSNBC falsely claimed that I violated a non-existent "gag order." The Associated Press incorrectly reported that I "broke in" to an office which is open to the public. The Washington Post has now had to print corrections in two stories on me. And these are just a few examples of inaccurate and false reporting. The public will judge whether reporters who can't get their facts straight have the credibility to question my integrity as a journalist.
At first impression, the New Orleans escapade looked to everyone in the media--myself included--like an attempt to wiretap, or at least damage, the office's phone lines. That the event was "apparently" a wiretapping attempt was noted consistently on this blog; that aspect wasn't asserted as fact in posting on O'Keefe's arrest. Still, I'll cop to having misread this event (assuming O'Keefe is telling the truth here, and that the unnamed law enforcement official who spoke to reporters has accurate information) before more information came to light, along with pretty much everyone else.
The media has become part of this controversy, as MSNBC's David Shuster has taken heat for tweeting at O'Keefe that the conservative filmmaker is "not a journalist...the truth is you intended to tap her phones...it's a felony...you will go to prison," after O'Keefe tweeted that "I am a journalist. The truth shall set me free."
The Shuster episode is likely a key piece of context here for O'Keefe's slamming of the media, though his comments apply, generally, to everyone who read his attempted office infiltration as an attempt to wiretap and reported it as such.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.