You know an event is potentially damaging to Hillary Clinton or other top Democrats when Dana Milbank of The Washington Post shows up. Hence, Milbank’s attendance at Tuesday’s James O’Keefe news conference on Clinton campaign violations of federal election law was an indication that the Democrats are concerned. This time, despite video evidence of top staffers for Hillary accepting cash from a known foreign national, most of the media reaction was vintage Milbank. “Is this a joke?” the media wanted to know.
In fairness, Milbank’s questions seemed mild, when compared to some of the other media reactions.
The joke question came from Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast, with other liberals joining in and wondering what the press conference was all about. The law says that foreigners are strictly prohibited from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, and O’Keefe had dramatic evidence of the campaign law violation. The video was played on a television screen for all to see.
Looking for some reason not to pay attention to the facts, some in the media seized upon the small amount of money that was used to pay for the Hillary campaign merchandise in question.
This was not the only media reaction, but it seemed to be one of the most popular. “James O’Keefe Targets Clinton Campaign For Legally Selling A T-Shirt,” was the dishonest headline over an article attacking O’Keefe published by Media Matters, the pro-Hillary and George Soros-funded group. This article set the tone for the pro-Hillary contingent in the press.
However, the great number of journalists who showed up was an indication that, when it comes to Hillary, nobody really knows how serious the law-breaking will get. O’Keefe suggested that more evidence against the campaign is yet to come.
Milbank may be in a quandary about what to do with Hillary, who is dropping in the polls against the socialist career politician Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and leaving the Democratic presidential field open to other candidates, most notably Vice President Joe Biden, a notorious plagiarist. (In Biden’s case, Media Matters had also defended him, insisting the plagiarism wasn’t as serious as some knew to be the case).
Milbank’s modus operandi in the past has been to ridicule conservatives who provide evidence of corruption by top Democrats such as Hillary and Barack Obama. For example, he attacked those who investigated Obama’s relationship with communist Frank Marshall Davis. He showed up at an AIM conference to write an article distorting the findings of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which investigated Hillary’s role in covering up the terrorist attack that killed four Americans.
Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has written that Milbank “serially exaggerates or distorts what he writes about. It’s just what he does.”
But those distortions won’t suffice when the video evidence itself can be seen by millions, telling the real story that some in the media try to conceal. As Project Veritas emphasized, the video shows Molly Barker, the Director of Marketing for Hillary Clinton’s national campaign, knowingly breaking campaign finance law by accepting a straw donation from a foreign national.
O’Keefe, who almost single-handedly took down the Alinskyite ACORN organization, has also investigated Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio. He wrote the book, Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy, and has targeted Republican politicians in the past as well.
His reputation meant that O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Action news conference at the National Press Club was packed, with at least seven television cameras there to record the proceedings.
Washington Post reporter David Weigel conveyed the message from the Clinton campaign that the event was much ado about nothing. But at least he did an advance story about the video and got the Clinton campaign response.
Los Angeles Times reporter Evan Halper played the story to the advantage of the Hillary campaign, insisting that the video somehow missed its target. It was “Hardly the stuff of a Pulitzer Prize,” he insisted. He found it newsworthy, and somehow relevant to the issue of federal law violations, that the journalist from The Daily Beast had treated the video as a joke.
The “joke” response said more about the lack of seriousness from The Daily Beast than it did about O’Keefe’s video. Making matters worse, Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast seemed proud of the fact that she didn’t grasp the seriousness of the election law violations, highlighting her “Is this a joke?” responses on her Twitter account.
O’Keefe may have the last laugh, as he repeatedly emphasized that more videos are coming, and that other Hillary officials may be in them and forced to resign. Reporters in attendance, anxious to dismiss these charges, seemed nervous about this prospect. They repeatedly pressed O’Keefe to spill more details about other undercover operatives he may have in the Clinton and other campaigns. He told the media they would just have to wait.
It was nervous laughter from the press, as they couldn’t figure out what other damaging evidence O’Keefe’s crew may have against the Democratic presidential candidate.
In a message to his supporters, O’Keefe noted, “Since at least 1996, Hillary and her husband Bill have been accused of accepting foreign contributions to further their political ambition. Back then, it was China accused of funneling massive amounts of money into the Clinton campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee]. The State Department investigated the matter. Three Americans were convicted of crimes, one of whom, Johnny Chung, admitted that $35,000 of his contributions came from the Chinese military. But Bill and Hillary got off clean.”
Not all media were prepared to laugh this all away. In his story about the O’Keefe news conference, Alan Rappeport of The New York Times seemed to admit that O’Keefe had struck gold, noting, “Foreign donations are a sensitive subject for the Clintons, as their family foundation has been under scrutiny for accepting money from overseas while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, and recent State Department emails showed that former President Bill Clinton tried to get permission to give paid speeches in North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
One question is whether the illegal transactions captured in the Project Veritas video are part of a pattern of illegal conduct. The media will just have to wait. Maybe their laughter will die down in the wake of more videos being released.
Asked why the major media don’t do these kinds of undercover investigations and the job falls on him and his staff, O’Keefe dismissed the significance of liberal media bias and said that he thinks journalists are more motivated by a desire to protect their access to candidates like Hillary. In other words, reporters have to flatter the candidates with fawning coverage.
But it’s increasingly difficult to portray Hillary in a favorable light. At the campaign event where the video of the illegal contribution was recorded, Hillary had told the crowd that she would “stop the endless flow of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political process, and drowning out the voices of our people.”
A reporter seeking to maintain access to a candidate like this, caught in scandal after scandal, is something that is destined to truly become a joke.