Clarification — and Mea Culpa — on James O’Keefe and ‘Race and Conservatism’

By
Friday, February 05, 2010 at 8:38 am

On Wednesday, I wrote a post reacting to Max Blumenthal’s story “James O’Keefe’s Race Problem” and was too quick with a description of the August 30, 2006 Robert Taft Club event on “race and conservatism.” Specifically, I wrote this:

A zoomed-in headshot of James O’Keefe (after the jump), then working for the Leadership Institute, survived, although it cropped out the table he was sitting at, covered in controversial literature.

In a later post, I walked this back: While I’d been at the event, it was Isis, a photographer/investigator for the One People’s Project, who told me that her photo was actually a picture of O’Keefe at a table of controversial literature. But several e-mailers and commenters have pointed out that my first post appeared to endorse Blumenthal’s whole story. I want to quickly walk through that story and point out the parts that, based on my experience at the event and interviews with Isis and event organizer Marcus Epstein, were not true.

1) OPP has a “photo of O’Keefe at a 2006 conference on ‘Race and Conservatism’ that featured leading white nationalists.”

As Epstein’s August 28, 2006 post on the nativist site VDare.com makes clear, it was a two-hour debate, not a conference. I made this clear in my initial post. The only “white nationalist” onstage was Taylor. John Derbyshire has some controversial views on race, but co-panelist Kevin Martin is and was, as Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism delights in pointing out, African-American.

2) “The leading speaker was Jared Taylor, founder of the white nationalist group American Renaissance.”

Taylor, who is incredibly controversial — and pretty nakedly racist — was the source of the event’s controversy, but he was only one of three speakers.

3) “Together, O’Keefe and Epstein planned an event in August 2006 that would wed their extreme views on race with their ambitions.”

O’Keefe has denied any role in planning the event, and Epstein has backed him up. In an interview yesterday, Isis told me: “I don’t believe O’Keefe planned the event.”

4) “A speaker from the right-wing black front group Project 21, founded by white conservative David Almasi to shill for corporate clients and provide cover for conservative politicians, was added at the last minute.”

Kevin Martin and Project 21 have pushed back against this on their own, but I also asked Epstein when he invited Martin to join and balance the panel. He forwarded me this email, dated August 1, 2006 — 29 days before the event.

epstein email

5) “According to One People’s Project founder Daryle Jenkins, O’Keefe was manning the literature table at the gathering that brought together anti-Semites, professional racists and proponents of Aryanism.”

This is Blumenthal’s sourcing, but according to Larry O’Connor of Big Journalism, Jenkins cited me as a “witness.” I talked to Isis, not Jenkins. And I never told anyone that O’Keefe had “planned” the event or “manned” the table, because I could not confirm those things. I did tell Isis, after seeing her photo of O’Keefe, and hearing her description of the event — and remembering her walking around, taking photos — that her photo definitely jogged my memory of O’Keefe being there. And O’Keefe has confirmed that he was there.

In my original post, I wrote that “O’Keefe’s position at the Leadership Institute gave him some ownership of the event, but in general the crowd consisted of conservatives and libertarians who wanted to see some controversy.” What I meant was that unlike the reporters in the room or the college students watching the spectacle, O’Keefe was Epstein’s co-worker. He didn’t wander in off the street — he knew his colleague was planning an event, knew it was so controversial it was moved out of the building, and he tagged along. But to some readers, that sentence suggested that O’Keefe was, indeed, a planner of the event. He absolutely wasn’t.

I stand by the rest of my description of the event in my original post. But later that day, as Breitbart started pushing back against the story, I wrote: “I’m curious to see what Breitbart goes after — I was at the 2006 event that leads Blumenthal’s story and can confirm all the details about it.” That was sloppy phrasing — I meant that I could confirm all the stuff I’d already written. I had no idea that One People’s Project had told Breitbart’s reporter that I could confirm the facts as presented by them. They should stand by their own story — and they really, really need to produce a full photo of O’Keefe at the event.

I’m really not used to being part of a story like this. In one week, James O’Keefe — who I’ve been writing about for months — has been linked to an organization that gave me a fellowship (the Collegiate Network) and an event I happened to be at in 2006. So I apologize for giving the impression that I confirmed all the details of the OPP and Salon stories, and I’m glad that The Village Voice has clarified its own reporting using my research.

As for my original point that there’s a conservative subculture that indulges in extremist politics with the expectation that no one will find out and care — well, I stand by that, and I think this episode has gone some way toward changing that.

Follow David Weigel on Twitter


Comments

44 Comments

1name11111
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 9:44 am

You are a doofus.


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Gary Eaton
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 10:24 am

David, thanks so much for coming out and clearing things up.
You have integrity, man.


darylelamontjenkins
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 10:26 am

Hey all:

This is going to be on a few other comments pages, so you may see this again, but I have to say that this has been the most enjoyable week for us in a long while. The truth of the matter is One People's Project can stand by our story. The spin from our more conservative brethren is only a butt-covering attempt to avoid dealing with one simple fact: James O'Keefe attended a white racist forum that was organized by the Robert A. Taft Club, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center once termed an extremist organization and whose founder Marcus Epstein has been associated with racist groups and individuals and was arrested for a racist physical attack nine months after the forum. The forum itself generated controversy well before it even took place, enough to say that if you attended it, you were either a reporter, a supporter, or someone who was going to have a whole hell of a lot of explaining to do.

The most interesting thing about this is while the attacks have been leveled mostly at Max Blumenthal and David Weigel, OPP and myself merely gets mentioned as the source. We have seen no such attacks. We have had a few phone calls from bloggers and other reporters, but that has been it. Even more curious, I can't even tell you if it was Larry O'Connor Andrew Breitbart, this Alpaca thing or who from that crowd called us the other day to confirm our source because they didn't want to say who they were!

It is as if the affront was not so much that the story was written, but the fact these two white guys with influence in the mainstream press had the audacity to lend an ear to this “Negro leftist”. It's particularly offensive to me, because as Weigel noted we need to stand by our own story – which again we will – and not get attacked by proxy, as it seems to be the case in going after Blumenthal and Weigel.

Spin doctoring and nitpicking of the facts won't make this story go away, and it hasn't. There are not too many people who are going to be all that forgiving of a person who prefers to associate themselves with the crowd that was at this forum. And that is good. We shed a lot of blood in this country and abroad to dismantle the institutional racism that had been established. We as a nation are not going to allow anyone to resurrect that institution, and the portions of that little hate machine that still exist will soon fall as well. If you happen to be one of those trying to maintain that machine in 2010, prepare to take the plunge with it.

Like little Andy Breitbart said in one of his tweets, our slogan says it all: “Hate Has Consequences”.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins
One People's Project
http://www.onepeoplesproject.com
dlj@oppforum.com
(267)970-5889


Zimriel
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 10:31 am

I agree that Weigel is a doofus; but he does admit his personal doofitude where he finds out about it, and he takes steps to correct it. I respect that and so should you.


Zimriel
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 10:42 am

Jenkins: “I can't even tell you if it was Larry O'Connor Andrew Breitbart, this Alpaca thing or who from that crowd called us the other day to confirm our source because they didn't want to say who they were! “

As they say on 4chan, “pics or it didn't happen”.

My guess is that Jenkins's “source” is another like Weigel whose words are being distorted. It's all in the greater cause of Ending Racism; it's a revolutionary truth, not bourgeois truth.


lincolntf
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 11:43 am

All well and good, but you can't “walk back” why you did it, Dave. You didn't just misunderstand someone, you deliberately advanced an allegation that existed only in your mind as a fact. Your instinct and your intent was to lie and to smear. You're ethically unfit to even write about an actual journalist like O'Keefe, so why don't you just take your retraction and shove it where the sun don't shine?


TheLastBrainLeft
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

“As for my original point that there’s a conservative subculture that indulges in extremist politics with the expectation that no one will find out and care — well, I stand by that, and I think this episode has gone some way toward changing that.”

Funny, your mea culpa pretty much destroys the evidence you gave to back this assertion up. You can't retract facts and not retract an opinion based on said retracted facts.


TheLastBrainLeft
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

Um, no. I have no respect for someone who knowingly smears someone with false racism charges.


TheLastBrainLeft
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

Hey Lamont, I suggest you practice what you preach. People won't soon forget what your goons did in Morristown, NJ on 7/28/07.

If you don't want to see conservatives speak out against you, don't smear them with lies.


mpberg
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

David,

I've always had a lot of regard for your overall sense of ethics (going back to your involvement in “E-Democracy” back in the '90s), which is something I can't say about everyone under the CIM umbrella. Kudos on the clarification.

Mr. Jenkins:

“The spin from our more conservative brethren is only a butt-covering attempt to avoid dealing with one simple fact: James O'Keefe attended a white racist forum that was organized by the Robert A. Taft Club, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center once termed an extremist organization and whose founder Marcus Epstein has been associated with racist groups and individuals and was arrested for a racist physical attack nine months after the forum”

In other words, aside from the parts ofyou and Blumenthal's “story”, which Messrs. Weigel and Breitbart have pretty much debunked, all you have is a skimpy bit of “guilt by two-degrees'-separated association”. Gotcha.

But by all means stand by it.

Please submit a list of every event you've attended in the past four years, so we may no doubt find equally-dodgy associations to frolic and romp over.

Assuming that's really where you want the bar set.


» The Wheels Come Off for Salon and Blumenthal as Weigel Issues ‘Clarification’ of O’Keefe Event - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

[...] posts that James O’Keefe once helped organize a “racist conference,”  has now “clarified” his remarks and guess what?  Your story just fell apart.  Read it and [...]


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Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

[...] And he’s un-thrilled by some things in Blumenthal’s piece, and the blog post that led to it. [...]


The Greenroom » Forum Archive » The O’Keefe Smear: Theya Culpa
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

[...] And he’s un-thrilled by some things in Blumenthal’s piece, and the blog post that led to it. [...]


Pablo
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

So, you enjoy looking like a foolish hack, Daryle? I can see where it's been a great week for you. Me, I'd be deeply embarrassed, but then, I have actual self respect.


mantis
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

Go back in your hole, nazi scum.


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Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

[...] what Marx wrote me this morning: I was unable to get ahold of Isis, but Dave Weigel did, and here’s what he writes: “Isis told me: ‘I don’t believe O’Keefe planned the [...]


SteveCan
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

There’s also a liberal subculture that indulges in extremist politics with the expectation that no one will find out and care ….. Just say'n


popcane
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

Too bad you couldn't keep that janitorial job Mr Pedophile. When is the last time you had a real job?


popcane
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

Well done…..you've outed us all with your nasally and lispy accusations (applause)


O’Keefe ‘Race and Conservatism’ Updates - Charles Johnson - The Lizard Annex - True/Slant
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

[...] There have been some developments in the story; David Weigel of the Washington Independent, who was at the same event as a reporter, walked back his first statement that he could “confirm all the details” about the story, and has posted an update here explaining which details he could not confirm: Clarification — and Mea Culpa — on James O’Keefe and ‘Race and Conservat…. [...]


darylelamontjenkins
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:37 pm

Well, the only thing that hasn't happened – and won't – is the Breitbart crowd proving us wrong instead of suggesting that we can't back up what we say. We have a stronger foundation than any they ever had going after ACORN.


darylelamontjenkins
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

Let's just say there's a reason why he said that…


mantis
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

popcane, I was responding to a particular comment, not indicting any group of people. TheLastBrainLeft was referring to a neo-nazi rally in Morristown in 2007, where a bunch of neo-nazis got into some sort of altercation with counter-protesters. He's upset some of his nazi pals didn't get to goose-step around New Jersey without people countering. Are you similarly outraged that neo-nazis are not wholly embraced in American society?

As a side note, how exactly does one produce text that is “nasally and lispy,” exactly?


Oh Jimmy Mack, When Are You Coming Back? « Around The Sphere
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

[...] #6: David Weigel at Washington [...]


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

“James O'Keefe attended a white racist forum that was organized by the Robert A. Taft Club, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center once termed an extremist organization”

Who cares what the “Southern Poverty Law Center” terms anything? I term the Democratic party an extremist organization. There you go, that makes it one.


Rob H.
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

There absolutely is, and O'Keefe exposed it when he exposed ACORN.

The fact that this story is still live on Salon is pretty good evidence that the left will lie even when it can be proven that they are lying. It's quite amazing to watch.


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

” have to say that this has been the most enjoyable week for us in a long while. The truth of the matter is One People's Project can stand by our story.”

I don't see the “One Peoples Project” standing by anything. All I see are claims that some anonymous person calling herself “Isis” supposedly said something. That's not standing by anything, that's just old-fashioned dirt-throwing from the shadows.

Perhaps Mr. Jenkins can prevail on “Isis” to release the un-cropped photo from which the shot of Mr. O'Keefe was taken. Or release it himslelf, if he has it.


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

You think some anonymous person saying something is a “strong foundation” or “backing up” anything?


Subotai
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

According to Max Blumenthal:

>>”Isis also told me [Blumenthal] that Weigel told her that Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing blogger who has had O’Keefe on his payroll, ” was acting like a fucking nutcase.””

Is that true, Mr. Weigel?


What is Project 21?
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

[...] of a slightly redacted email between the “Race and Conservatism” event’s chief organizer, Marcus Epstein, and [...]


lincolntf
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

You know what kinda cracks me up? That Max Blumenthal just blew any opportunity he ever had to be thought of as anything but a half-assed partisan flack.
Anyone willing to trade on the accusation of racism is a worm.
Max, I sure hope your Daddy is proud, you just wasted your entire college education.


» Salon.com Allows the Lies to Continue — Why? - Big Journalism
Pingback posted February 5, 2010 @ 8:26 pm

[...] article at Salon.com remains unchanged even though the Village Voice and Dave Weigel at The Washington Independent have written detailed corrections contradicting Blumenthal’s [...]


Dominic1492
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

Ironically, that's what the right always does in the first place. Can anyone say Bill Ayres?


Dominic1492
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

So….who's anonymous?


Dominic1492
Comment posted February 5, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

And that names of those neo-Nazis were Erick and Joyce Weigel.

No relation.


DGF
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 12:20 am

>So I apologize for giving the impression that I confirmed all the details of the
>OPP and Salon stories [...]

But in any case…

>As for my original point that there’s a conservative subculture that indulges
>in extremist politics with the expectation that no one will find out and
>care — well, I stand by that, and I think this episode has gone some
>way toward changing that.

Except for the details.

In other words, the bulk of your post was “fake but accurate?”


TeaPartyFee549
Comment posted February 7, 2010 @ 3:28 am

I think Isis should only release the uncropped photo once O'Keefe releases the full, unedited versions of his ACORN tapes.

ACORN has been asking O'Keefe to release a full, unedited disclosure of his (obviously) edited tapes. He's been a completely shadey jerk about it. HIs video releases cant even stand up to the scrutiny of his transcripts. But he's holding out until next election. And he's doing that because his videos are doctored pieces of propaganda geared only towards political smearing and blackmail.

When he comes clean, he can have his photo.

(for the record, there's no dispute that James DID attend the event with its main organizer.)


TeaPartyFee549
Comment posted February 7, 2010 @ 8:28 am

I think Isis should only release the uncropped photo once O'Keefe releases the full, unedited versions of his ACORN tapes.

ACORN has been asking O'Keefe to release a full, unedited disclosure of his (obviously) edited tapes. He's been a completely shadey jerk about it. HIs video releases cant even stand up to the scrutiny of his transcripts. But he's holding out until next election. And he's doing that because his videos are doctored pieces of propaganda geared only towards political smearing and blackmail.

When he comes clean, he can have his photo.

(for the record, there's no dispute that James DID attend the event with its main organizer.)


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Pingback posted March 23, 2010 @ 2:50 am

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