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Conservative Journalism Networks Back Away From O’Keefe and Co.

Ken Vogel has an essential story looking at the not-so-secret, but rarely examined, collegiate conservative fund network that trained James O’Keefe, Stan Dai,

Rhyley Carney
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jan 28, 2010

Ken Vogel has an essential story looking at the not-so-secret, but rarely examined, collegiate conservative fund network that trained James O’Keefe, Stan Dai, and the other plotters in the Mary Landrieu phone tampering scandal. The Leadership Institute and the Collegiate Network helped O’Keefe and the others get trained and fund college newspapers; the Phillips Foundation gave Dai one of its fellowships. (Disclosure: From 2002 through 2004 I edited the Northwestern Chronicle, a paper that received funding from the Collegiate Network, and I was a CN fellow at USA Today from 2004 to 2005.)

Today, those organizations are condemning what their proteges got up to.

[LI's Steven] Sutton said the Institute suggested to O’Keefe that he ask Rutgers officials to banish the breakfast cereal Lucky Charms from campus dining halls because it was offensive to Irish American students. O’Keefe took the advice a step further and video recorded the meeting, posting it on YouTube, which Sutton said was an example of him pushing the envelope.

Worth remembering: the Leadership Institute didn’t always say this about O’Keefe. I noted on Tuesday that LI President Morton Blackwell gave O’Keefe fulsome praise for the ACORN sting, happily crediting his LI training.

With training and a little financial help from the Leadership Institute, James O’Keefe started in 2004 an independent conservative student newspaper, The Centurion, at Rutgers, a large state university in New Jersey.

James fought the liberal administration at Rutgers.  Leftists on campus stole whole issues of The Centurion.  His paper continued and grew stronger because of the abuses.

James went to ten different training schools of the Leadership Institute.  The Institute hired him for a year (2006-07) to help conservative students around the country form their own campus publications.  He conducted 75 training programs for LI.

Among the useful things James learned at LI was:  “Don’t fire all your ammunition at once.

In September 2009, each day for five days James released new videos exposing ACORN’s outrageous practices.  The roof caved in on ACORN.  Obviously, the impact of his work would have been much less if James had released all those videos at the same time.

Now James is a national conservative hero, and I believe he will write his own ticket to a future career doing just what he loves to do.

Obviously, the ACORN tapes went further than the college stunts that LI now characterizes as over-the-top.

Rhyley Carney | Rhyley Carney is a New York Times bestselling author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content designer, and writing teacher/lecturer who has won five Bram Stoker Awards. More than a dozen countries have purchased her novels.


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