I interviewed Andrew Breitbart about the arrest of James O’Keefe:
HH: Joined now by Andrew Breitbart of www.biggovernment.com and www.bigjournalism.com, who’s name will be in big, big print in many newspapers tomorrow as the man whose videos he published at Big Government is under arrest in Louisiana. Andrew, what is going on?
AB: Well, your guess is as good as mine. We’re reading the same Associated Press copy out there. The first I heard of it was an e-mail early this afternoon from the Times-Picayune asking for my comment on it. I have not heard from anyone. I’ve issued a statement that I could read to you that in essence says I had no prior knowledge of any of this stuff, and I know nothing, quite frankly about this, and I’m going to wait until I hear from someone with information here. There’s obviously an attempt to use this for political purposes right now, and I see that Media Matters is referring to this group of gentlemen who were arrested as “Breitbart’s Crew.” I’ve looked at all four of the names…
[# More #]
HH: That’s slanderous, by the way.
AB: It is, and I’ve never met any of the three other gentlemen.
HH: You see, I want to pause here. The attribution of criminal conduct is per se’ slanderous.
AB: Yes, and that’s what they’re trying to do here, because you know, with the ACORN internal investigation that Scott Harshbarger did at the behest of John Podesta and Andy Stern, was an investigation into James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles trying to find that Richard Mellon Scaife connection to the vast right wing conspiracy, when what they did was an independent film investigation. James O’Keefe is an independent film director.
HH: Well, let’s get the record out there then, so everyone else has to answer…anyone who slanders you will be charged with recklessness. We’ll get this typed up, Duane will post it. When was the last time you talked to James O’Keefe?
AB: Weeks ago.
HH: More than a month?
HH: Three weeks, then?
AB: Something like that.
HH: All right. Did you talk about Mary Landrieu at all when you talked…
HH: Did you talk to him about bugging any offices?
HH: Would you have told him don’t do that, if he had asked you?
AB: No, I have nothing to do with what James O’Keefe does. James O’Keefe is an independent filmmaker.
HH: Have you…
AB: When James O’Keefe came to me with the ACORN story with a bow, I recognized that the mainstream media would want nothing to do with this story. The tapes spoke for themselves. The mainstream media tried to ignore that story as much as they possibly could. I knew that going in, and we did everything we could to do due diligence, to make sure that that story was sacrosanct. And the result of it was that even Al Franken voted to defund ACORN.
HH: I agree, but let’s stay focused, because what I’m trying to do is put out there so people don’t slander you, Andrew. Have you ever met Robert Flanagan, one of the accused?
HH: Have you ever met Stan Dai, one of the accused?
HH: Have you ever met Joseph Basel, one of the accused?
HH: Have you spoken to any of them by phone?
HH: Have you texted any of them?
HH: Any e-mails from those three?
HH: So you have no connection to this three other people at all, ever?
HH: That then lays a predicate. If people go out there and call them “your crew”, they’re slandering you, Andrew.
AB: Well, that’s what Eric Boehlert has done, and he continues to retweet this, and many people are picking up on it. What they’re attempting to do is to try and find a bigger fish than James O’Keefe, a 25 year old independent filmmaker. That’s what John Podesta’s goal was, and they already have sent out Bertha Lewis to go on cable news to try and say that this is vindication of ACORN, which is a stretch to say the least.
HH: Have you informed Media Matters, Bertha Lewis, Podesta and everyone else that you have no connection to this?
AB: I have not, yet. This has only happened this afternoon.
HH: You need to get it out there, so that you build this wall quickly, so that they can’t say we didn’t know, because they still, you’re a public figure. It would have to be reckless disregard or knowing falsehood for them to slander you in the eyes of the law and not have a defense for it. But boy, they’re close. It just clearly, Andrew, you would never do anything this stupid.
AB: In college, I did some things I’m not so proud of.
HH: Yeah, but you’re not in college anymore.
AB: Oh, okay. Then absolutely not.
HH: Tell me about James O’Keefe a little bit.
AB: Let me also state this, because this is new in the Associated Press copy. O’Keefe said, “Veritas,” Latin for truth, as he left a suburban jail Tuesday with suspect Stan Dai and Joseph Basel, both 24. All declined to comment. There will be a time for that, Dai said. As he got into a cab outside of jail, O’Keefe said the truth shall set me free. So right now, what we have is information that is coming from the mainstream press that is presuming James O’Keefe’s guilt. This is a highly motivated press right now to take the story line that’s being spoon-fed by people that I don’t even know, to make sure that he’s guilty. And he’s going to have to prove himself innocent. And I’m not going to get into speculation as to what happened. I need to get as much information as I can. And from the standpoint of the blogosphere, and upholding the highest standards possible, we’ve put up my statement on all three of the sites – Big Government, Big Hollywood and Big Journalism, along with the latest Associated Press copy, to make sure that we’re not trying to avoid this story, to pretend that it’s not happening.
HH: I love that, by the way. That is exactly what public figures should do when they are implicated, even by a complete falsehood in something like this. They should do what you’re doing, which is get out there and say nope, not me, not now, not ever, never. Last question, in terms of his relationship with you not connected to this event, are you still, is he in your employ in any way?
AB: When the story came to us, what I wanted to do was to make sure that the ACORN story got as much widespread dissemination as humanly possible. The videos that he independently produced went on YouTube. And so Huffington Post, every single site put it out there, including my sites. What he does for the site exclusively is he tells his life rights, basically. So when he puts a story out there, it’s on the Brietbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired. So…
HH: Do you pay him for that?
HH: And are you free to tell me how much you pay him?
AB: I’ll…perhaps at another date, but he’s paid a fair salary.
HH: Is he…so he is an employee?
AB: I’m not sure that’s technically the thing, but yes, he’s paid for his life rights. And he’s, you know, he’s still…we reserve the right to say yes or no to any of the stories that he puts up on our site as we do to any other contributor who comes to the site.
HH: Will it be a mischaracterization to say he was working for you when he went about this?
AB: Well, I mean, no. He was not involved in anything that was related to Big Government, or Breitbart.com.
HH: And I think that’s the key thing. Lots of people work for lots of corporations, and do dumb and sometimes illegal things that are not within the scope of their employment. And this was not within the scope of his employment.
AB: Yes, absolutely. That is absolutely the case.
HH: Andrew Breitbart, thanks for checking in with us. I appreciate that.
End of interview.