I just finished interviewing James O’Keefe about the NPR video, and will air the audio at the bottom of the first hour. The transcript will be posted here later.
HH: Joined now by James O’Keefe, who is the Project Veritas creator, and the man behind the NPR video which is making news across the country tonight. Mr. O’Keefe, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JO’K: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
HH: Can you explain in detail how this video was made, where it was made, and when it was made?
JO’K: It was made on February 22nd in Caf? Milano, Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. Two undercover citizen journalists scheduled a meeting ahead of time with the president of the NPR Foundation, senior vice president of NPR, and senior director of institutional giving. And they met with them on the pretense of making a large donation on behalf of a Muslim Brotherhood front group.
HH: How did you first contact them, James? Did you call them up out of the blue and say we are this group and we want to meet with you and give you money?
JO’K: We sent them an email from our fictitious entity, the Muslim Education Action Center Trust.
HH: What did that email say?
JO’K: It said something to the effect of we’d like to, we’re interested in making a donation to NPR, and we’d like to set up a meeting, to schedule a meeting with, you know, an official from your organization. And eventually, we got to Ron Schiller, who is the head, or one of the heads of all their donations.
HH: So when you say eventually we got to, did he immediately respond to your email? Or did you have to go through some intermediaries?
JO’K: Well, he was a little bit difficult to get to, because he’s a pretty important guy and travels a lot. And you know, he is the head of all their donations. So with a large donation like this, I think they eventually got back to us and said they were interested in meeting with us to talk about it.
HH: Who did you initially make the offer to? When did the number $5 million come up? I am curious how you baited the hook here.
JO’K: Well, that’s something we’re going to be rolling out soon. We have more sort of material that is only going to, I think, expose further NPR, and maybe even get them in more trouble. But the hook was pretty simple. It’s just we’re a Muslim group, here’s our website, you can go to our website, which is still live as of now, you can see what it says. It says we want to spread Sharia throughout the world. And we said to them, hey, here’s our website, we want to make a donation. I believe we sent that email out a few weeks before the actual meeting, and he said he’s really only free to meet later in February. And then when we had the meeting, we had a limousine, a stretch limousine, provided as transportation for them back to NPR. And we took them to Caf? Milano to sort of indicate we’re high roller donors. And then in the meeting, I think we dropped the $5 million dollar line.
HH: Okay, now did any of this additional material implicate Vivian Schiller, the CEO of NPR?
JO’K: That’s something that you’re just going to have to wait and see.
HH: Is it possible?
JO’K: It’s possible.
HH: All right. In terms of the video that was released, I watched it carefully. There are a lot of outtakes. Are more of those outtakes going to show up?
JO’K: Yeah, we’ve published the full video. We published it this morning. It’s been printed in the New York Times. It’s been referenced. The full video is available online, on our website. It’s been linked in the media as well. So if people want to say that things are edited, they can go and check the full video to determine that things are not taken out of context. Not only, if you check the video, the full video, but I think it is very clear from the statements in the produced version, that these are not statements where a context could probably even exist to mitigate them. But the full video is available for anyone who doubts my editing.
HH: All right, so how long is the full video, James O’Keefe?
JO’K: The full video is, I think the conversation with Ron Schiller, was around an hour and a half.
HH: Who took the film? Who was doing the filming?
JO’K: The two reporters, the citizen reporters, their names are Shaughn Adeleye, he’s a colleague of mine who’s worked on the Census project with me and the Teacher’s Union project in New Jersey, and also a gentleman named Simon Templar, who goes by Simon Templar. They both posed as Muslim Brotherhood people. They went by the names Amir Malik, and Ibrahim Qassam, and they had the hidden cameras on their person.
HH: Did you have any cooperation from the Caf? Milano?
JO’K: We scheduled in advance a reservation under our identity, under our undercover identity. And they didn’t, you know, there was no covert, I mean, there was no obvious filming. They just looked at us, we had a meal like anyone else would. You wouldn’t even know that it was some type of set up.
HH: Now I’m curious, in most states of the union, I don’t know the law of the District of Columbia, it’s illegal to surreptitiously record someone. Is that the case in the District of Columbia?
JO’K: No, it’s not the case at all. It’s perfectly legal to tape people without their permission in D.C.
HH: Okay, and so did you, do you have any other tape of individuals from NPR that has not yet been released?
JO’K: Like I said, that’s something that I am going to, we’re going to continue this investigation, continue publishing it. And I believe soon, we’re going to publish more material, separate material. And I’m going to determine how I want to…I think there’s so much material, that I want to make sure that everything gets the appropriate attention it deserves.
HH: Sure, that’s like the roll out of the ACORN videos, and I understand building the strategy. I’m just curious if it’s audio, or if it is printed material that you’re going to be rolling out.
JO’K: I’d say probably a combination of both.
HH: Okay. In terms of the after response to this, NPR has put out a statement. What’s your reaction to their statement?
JO’K: Well, the statement admits they’ve made the comments. The statement says they’re appalled by what Ron Schiller has said. I think that you know, it’s interesting that Ron Schiller has, he left a few days ago. I don’t know why. It’s unclear to us if they have gotten advance notice of this a couple days ago, but he, I think it’s a fascinating look into the mind and heart of the media elite. And as far as their statement about well, we didn’t accept the $5 million dollar donation, we didn’t take the bait or something, that’s something that you know, I think people are going to find more about as we move forward in the coming days.
HH: Now James O’Keefe, whom did you offer the audio/visual to at first? I got it off of YouTube after seeing a story on the Daily Caller this morning.
HH: How did you introduce this to the mainstream media?
JO’K: Well, we have published it on YouTube. The first glimpse of it was on YouTube, and then we released the full video on our sites, but like any reporter or journalist or producer, you know, we alerted some reporters ahead of time, let them know what’s coming, and see if they’re interested in the story, and just like any other, you know, producer offering the story to as many people who will want to cover it, and see if they’re interested, see if we trust them.
HH: Was anyone not interested in it?
JO’K: Most people were interested, frankly. It’s a fascinating headline, is it not, Muslim Brotherhood Meets With National Public Radio right in the middle of a budget crisis surrounding NPR? So I don’t think anyone was not interested. I think people doubt the veracity of the tape, and that’s the biggest criticism. But I’ve offered the full, unedited video. And if you want to go through and find anything you think mitigates this, you can do that. I can guarantee you I’ve vetted it, people I trust have vetted it, and it’s real.
HH: And where is the full video? Is it at Project Veritas, James O’Keefe?
HH: www.theprojectveritas.com. I was getting at, why didn’t you offer it to Andrew Breitbart, who has cooperated with you in the past?
JO’K: I did offer it. I did give it to Breitbart. He’s welcome to post it just like anyone else.
HH: Are you working with him exclusively anymore?
JO’K: I mean, I work with him, yes. He’s very helpful, and I think that he, I think he has linked to it on his site, and he’s someone that I speak with, and I remain friends with him, I have a great deal of respect for, so…
HH: But this did not launch there, as in the past, the earlier videos from ACORN launched there.
JO’K: Well, you’re going to have to ask him about his editorial decisions. I don’t run his site. I did have a contract with him for a year, where he did have the rights to my work. But he doesn’t pay me right now, and you’re going to have to ask him directly. But like I said, I have a great deal of respect for him, and I appreciate his guidance, and certainly he has a lot of great media strategies. So we continue to talk, and you’re going to have to ask him about whether, what his editorial policies are regarding any story he does.
HH: All right, now James O’Keefe, tell us a little bit about www.theprojectveritas.com. Who funds it?
JO’K: Who funds it? We don’t have any money right now. We are a non-profit organization, funded by grassroots people. I’m not exaggerating. We get very small donations, we’re running on fumes. And we have volunteer filmmakers, volunteer videographers who go out there. So I would appreciate people make a donation. It’s a 501c3. We haven’t gotten our tax exemption back from the IRS yet, but hopefully we do. And it’s just an effort to muckrake, to shake things up, to expose things for what they are, and to investigate the powerful institutions that the mainstream media refuses to investigate.
HH: Did you time the release of this to coincide with the debate over whether or not to defund NPR?
JO’K: NO, that wasn’t intentional. We got this tape, you know, February 22nd, in that week, which you know, and I produced it. So frankly, it was just very coincidental, and it happens to be more of a story. You know, as a journalist, I’m glad it’s taking place now, because it’s getting a lot more exposure given the debate. But frankly, that was kind of coincidental. It was not done months and months and months ago and I waited. It was done two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and it took me some time to produce it.
HH: Is it fair in your opinion to call this a sting?
JO’K: I don’t care what you call it. Honestly, and everyone’s asking me what do I refer to myself as. It really does not matter. You can call it a sting, you can call it investigative reporting, you can call it filmmaking, you can call it activism. But what it is, is exposing that a triangle has three sides, frankly, that everyone knows that this is true. But the guy is a caricature, a stereotype, of what people have been talking about for years about these media elites. So I don’t really care what people call me or call my teammates, journalists or sting artists or activists or hoaxsters. Whatever they say, I think that it’s a form of journalism that’s been used for decades by ABC News, PrimeTime Live, 60 Minutes, To Catch A Predator. We’re just adding a new media twist to it.
HH: Where were you, the reason I asked for the term is so I can ask this question. Where were you when the sting was going down?
JO’K: I wasn’t even in D.C. I trained these two guys. I gave them all my expertise. I gave them equipment that I have. And I helped them do what they wanted to do. That’s my mission at The Project Veritas, train people, equip them, and send them out into the field to do creative reporting.
HH: Did you conceive of the idea, James?
JO’K: No, the idea was basically a hybrid between Shaughn Adeleye, who came to me and was a little bit offended by what happened with Juan Williams, and my other friend, Simon Templar, who similarly thought about doing something with NPR. And we just put our heads together, and I offered by expertise, which is the sort of undercover stuff, and they sort of did the rest.
HH: So on February 22nd, where were you?
JO’K: I was in New Jersey.
HH: And so how soon did you figure out it had worked?
JO’K: They called me, or they texted me after the meeting, and said it, he made many comments that the public would find interesting.
HH: What happened to the woman that was with him? She vanished midway through the film that I saw, the edited version that I saw from YouTube.
JO’K: She’s, I’m sorry, what do you mean she vanishes?
HH: She wasn’t in some of the frames. Did she leave early?
JO’K: Oh, well, the video camera, the video camera was on a table. It was on, I’m not exactly, I have to ask my colleague where exactly it was, but it was situated next to him. And it was bumped by the waiter, I believe, so it sort of shifted position once or twice throughout the video. Sometimes, it’s positioned directly on Ron Schiller, and other times, it’s positioned on the both of them.
HH: All right, last couple of questions. You had a sting go bad in January of last year, one that ended up with you going to federal court and pleading guilty and being on probation. Does this sting in any way violate the terms of your probation?
JO’K: It absolutely does not violate the terms of my probation. And just to clarify things for your audience, my crime in Louisiana was a false pretense, a class B misdemeanor. Every undercover investigation uses false pretenses. Every single one. It just so happens to be that I was inside of a federal office building when I was posing as something I wasn’t. That was my crime. Nothing more than that. In fact, the government even came out and stated that precisely, nothing more than a conversation was had in Louisiana. So people like to use it against me and call me a criminal and a probatee, but frankly, there’s no legal precedent. They’ve never even used that false pretense against anyone before, really, certainly and no journalist. So I’m surprised that more media outlets haven’t really covered that angle. But no, it doesn’t violate my probation, because I’m not breaking any laws here. I’m not breaking any laws.
HH: All right, last question, when can we expect to see the next chapter in the NPR expose’?
JO’K: That’s something that, you know, you’re going to have to stay tuned for. It could be any minute, it could be a few days, it could be a week.
HH: James O’Keefe from www.theprojectveritas.com, thank you for joining me.
End of interview.