Undercover Videos Cause Two Democratic Operatives to Lose Their Jobs
A series of undercover videos released earlier this week, “Rigging the Election,” by veteran conservative activist and guerrilla journalist James O’Keefe, has nabbed two victims: Democratic operatives and activists Robert Creamer and Scott Foval. Both lost their jobs over the video sting, which appears to show them, especially Foval, toying with voter fraud schemes and detailing past attempts to stir violence at Donald Trump rallies.
Americans United for Change, a DNC-aligned non-profit, fired Foval on Monday. He was the organization’s national field director. On Tuesday, Creamer, whose wife is Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said he was “stepping back” from his position at Democracy Partners. Produced by O’Keefe’s outfit, Project Veritas Action, the undercover videos are the “culmination of a year-long […] investigation into the dark, backroom dealings of the Hillary Clinton campaign,” O’Keefe says in one of the videos.
Creamer and Foval were featured throughout the two 16-minute-long videos, covertly filmed by Project Veritas Action journalists. Posing as Democratic donors and registered voters, the journalists engaged in a number of conversations with the two operatives–at a Wisconsin bar, in a restaurant, and at their offices.
There are moments in the first video where Foval directly addresses instigating violence at Trump rallies. “There’s a script of engagement,” he says. “Sometimes the crazies bite and sometimes the crazies don’t bite,” adding, “the key is initiating the conflict by having leading conversations with people who are naturally psychotic.” He is shown telling one Veritas journalist that he engages in a “kind of agitator training” with some protesters, and that “we’re starting anarchy here.”
Others parts of the videos are less directly incriminating of Foval and Creamer, and perhaps more the result of clever editing by O’Keefe to fit his narrative. In the first video, Zulema Rodriguez, an activist paid by the DNC, mentions being at the protest at a Trump rally in March at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus. A protest coordinator with the DNC, Aaron Black, explicitly credits his tactics and paid activists like Rodriguez for being the reason the rally was shut down. Journalists who attended the rally, however, painted a largely unanimous picture of the protests being led by UIC students, not paid activists.
In the second video–the bulk of which shows Foval and a Veritas journalist discussing a hypothetical voter fraud scheme in which voters registered in one state are bussed to another to vote–editing tricks seem to steer the message to fit O’Keefe’s agenda. After a few minutes-long conversation where Foval and the Veritas journalist discuss bussing voters between states, the tape skips to Foval saying, “so Bob Creamer comes up with a lot of these ideas.” But that statement appears to be shown out of context, and Foval and the Veritas journalist could have been discussing any number of unrelated ideas.
Democratic Partners, Creamer’s organization, issued a statement following the undercover videos: “Our firm has recently been the victim of a well-funded, systematic spy operation that is the modern day equivalent of the Watergate burglars,” the statement said. “The plot involved the use of trained operatives using false identifications, disguises, and elaborate false covers to infiltrate our firm and others, in order to steal campaign plans, and goad unsuspecting individuals into making careless statements on hidden cameras.”
Project Veritas Action, and its proprietor, O’Keefe, have produced a number of successful, if controversial, undercover videos over the years. In 2009, the liberal community activist organization ACORN closed down following a Veritas video that showed ACORN members advising on tax evasion strategies. Another video, in 2011, cost NPR senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller his job, after ripping the Tea Party as “racist, racist people.” However, some past videos have been criticized for being heavily edited.
It is worth noting that O’Keefe is an activist himself, and video editing techniques can be easily weaponized to fit one’s agenda. Without the full unedited version of the video, it is difficult to understand the context in which the comments were made. But the videos are worth a critical and careful viewing in their entirety.