Right Wing Darling James O’Keefe: The Man Who Exposed ACORN and Lucky Charms

post_9-15James O’Keefe seems to be everywhere these days – or at least everywhere a right-winger would be paying attention to. He’s on Fox News all the time (sometimes even in a pimp costume), on Drudge Report, and today, on the cover of the New York Post.

Where did this 25-year-old intrepid conservative undercover reporter come from? We have the inside scoop – and it’s pretty spectacular.

Before we get into what we’ve found, it’s important to note just how much O’Keefe has accomplished in the last week. Since his undercover videos exposing ACORN were posted on BigGovernment.com, he got the U.S. Census to stop working with ACORN, and last night he got the Senate to cut ACORN’s federal funding. These are real, impressive results.

We talked to several of O’Keefe’s former classmates. Let’s get to know the GOP’s new young hero:

• He started an alternative, conservative magazine while a student at Rutgers University, called The Centurion. The most recent issue available is from March 2009, and features a cover story: “Paul Robeson: New Jersey’s Favorite Stalinist.” Here’s a bit of their mission statement:

We believe in fiscal and moral responsibility, a strong national defense, free-market economics, American exceptionalism, and God. We stand unyielding in defense of our motto, “Veritas vos liberabit,” or “The truth shall set you free.”

• He waged a campaign against dining halls serving Lucky Charms. You see, besides being magically delicious, O’Keefe thought the cereal was offensive to Irish Americans.

• He ran an affirmative action bake sale. Let’s repeat – an affirmative action bake sale, where they sold baked goods for different prices based on your race. This was all to prove a point, of course, that affirmative action is bad.

• He was in the Glee Club. That’s about it.

The best part about this – just like his hidden camera investigations of ACORN, O’Keefe documented these on YouTube as well. Find some of the videos below.

His Facebook profile is also popping with interesting info. Here are his favorite books:

Rules for Radicals, Dedication and Leadership, The Global Activist’s Handbook, The True Believer, Witness: Letter to my Children, Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously, The Dream of the Ridiculous Man, Eclipse of the Sun, The Sea Within: Waves and the Meaning of All Things, Airborne: A sentimental Journey, The War Against Boys, The Death of the West, The Black Book of Communism, The Unaborted Socrates, The ISI Student Guide to Liberal Learning, The Closing of the American Mind, Anything by C.S. Lewis, Orthodoxy, Comedia Divina,

Also – there are some great pictures. We made a Flickr slideshow because they’re worth it – check it out.

He’s got some very detailed essays on his Facebook page as well – like this one extolling the virtues of living on a boat.

We’ve reached out to this up-and-coming O’Reilly ambusher-like 20-something. James – we’d love to talk to you, by phone, email or undercover video.

Here’s O’Keefe exposing the injustice that is Lucky Charms:

Here’s that Affirmative Action Bake Sale:


The Secret to Glamour’s Sweet Success

09adcoA-lrgPContinuing to attract the spotlight after the sensation the “girl on page 194″ caused, Glamour magazine’s Fashion Week launch of its new ad campaign is bright, cheerful, and optimistic. The New York Times calls the cupcake themed ads an attempt to reach out to media buyers and heighten their ad sales by “refresh[ing] their idea of the Glamour reader.”

It seems more accurate to say though, that the ads reinforce more than a refreshed image of the Glamour reader. The magazine’s 70 year run has always had a focus on the “average,” albeit exceptional, “all-American girl.” Out of those 70 years, the magazine has been holding an annual Top 10 College Women competition for 52. The contest attests to the ardent level of appreciation the beauty mag has always had for intelligent women, who are recognized for their “campus leadership, scholastic achievement, community involvement and unique, inspiring goals,” and not their waist size.

The 10 winners, whose colleges ranged from University of Iowa to USC to West Point, were honored at a fancy awards luncheon at The Modern last week, where Ivanka Trump and Editor-In-Chief Cindi Leive spoke. Besides the ceremony, the girls are glorified in a detailed 5 page spread in the October issue.

Glamour has been dedicating this much space to real, exceptional women every year for half a century, which suggests that its new ad campaign isn’t refreshing its readers’ image, but rather maintaining its tradition of accessibility. The sprinkling of the cupcake ads around New York may add some refreshing color to the city, but Glamour’s continued success and high readership has always been rooted in their their long-established tradition of providing an attainable space for the voices of real young women.

Jim Selman: Tempests in a Tea Party

A good friend of mine is a Canadian that grew up in Lebanon. His family still owns a bit of land that is situated between two of the refugee camps. It is a bleak scene by all accounts. I asked him what he learned growing up in that kind of environment. He said, "I learned it only takes a very few people to screw it up for everybody."

I had the same impression as I watched the "9/12 tea party march on Washington" this past week. It is fine for any group to demonstrate. That is their right. But I am also a bit perplexed why a campaign that has a few thousand people should be getting the same kind of coverage in the media that other marches involving millions, such as those for the civil rights movement, receive. I am also perplexed that the media doesn't make a distinction between hate-filled Nazi style sloganeering messages and slogans that call for something.

It is clear that at least some of the mob is racially motivated -- as reflected both by brandishing the Swastika and by "witch doctor" imagery. These people should be ashamed and ignored as just plain ignorant and despicable. For the remainder, however, it is appropriate to listen and try to at least understand and hopefully engage in a civil discourse even if most of the participants in the "tea party" don't seem interested. It is clear they are concerned about spending levels, as are many liberals. It is clear they are against what they call the "liberal media," even though "conservative" media is at least as prominent. It is clear they are against higher taxes, even though President Obama is honoring his promise not to increase taxes for the majority so far. It is clear they are against reforming our health care system, even though: a) we will pay for the uninsured one way or another anyway, b) the current costs are totally out of control, and c) the quality of the current system is 37th in the world. And it is clear they are against anyone who disagrees with their view.

Contrast this to Martin Luther King's clarifying distinction that he was not so much "against discrimination" as he was "for equality." I have yet to hear what the "anti-activists" in this campaign are for. I cannot believe that they are all so blind as to not acknowledge that if they do defeat the current campaign for reform, the problems won't go away. What do they propose to do? In the absence of a constructive alternative, they should be heard but not taken seriously. They are a few thousand hard-core individuals intent on destroying possibility and undermining the man that a majority of Americans elected.

We cannot and should not stop their speech, but we can and should turn off the endless ranting and ratings-motivated media hype this sort of nonsense creates. When a few people occupy the time and "conversational space" of the majority, then it is no longer about free speech. It is about communication strategy. And it only takes a few to mess it up for everyone.

© Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

Obama On Letterman, Sunday Shows In Media Blitz

NEW YORK — President Barack Obama is visiting David Letterman on Monday, part of a media blitz to sell his health care plan.

CBS says it would make the first visit ever by a sitting president to Letterman's "Late Show." Obama has appeared on Letterman's show five times before, the last during the campaign in September 2008.

The president is scheduled to visit Sunday morning talk shows this weekend on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. That's a highly unusual schedule, even for a president eager to get his message across throughout the media.

Obama will be the sole guest on Monday's "Late Show."

Romer Thinks “Consumers” Should Take Share Of Responsibility For Lehman Collapse

Hey kids, in case you haven't figured it out, yesterday was the anniversary of Lehman Brothers' epic collapse, touching off Wall Street's brilliant swan dive into a dung heap of its own making.

And so the White House is Making The Speeches, and having Teachable Moments, Never Forgetting, and Putting Things Into Larger Historical Context. And somewhere your Wall Street Titans are absorbing this rhetoric and searching their souls, wondering: "Hey! Could we take this outpouring of sentiment, chop it up into a tranche with toxic mortgages, and sell it as derivatives?"

Yesterday, Christina Romer went on MSNBC to talk to Andrea Mitchell about all the great lessons that this moment has to teach.

ROMER: We absolutely feel that we have to get regulatory reform moving! That's part of what the president was talking about today! Using this anniversary to remind people! Just how bad things were a year ago! And how we do not want to be there again!


You should watch the video, because without it, it's so hard to convey Romer's VAPID! ENTHUSIASM! FOR EVERYTHING! That makes it hard to determine what aspect of the president's remarks are most important to her. Luckily, she tells us:

ROMER: I thought the other part that I liked so much in the president's speech is to say, it's not just about putting in new rules, it's about a new sense of responsibility! Among government, business, and even consumers. That we all need to do our part to rebuild trust and make the system work again! And I thought that was a terrific message!

Yes! That is a "terrific message!" I hope that millions of American consumers spent some time yesterday reflecting on how their lack of responsibility caused the demise of Lehman Brothers. Let's all meet back here tomorrow to reflect on the anniversary of that time we all caused the AIG liquidity crisis!

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]

Mainstream Media Miss the Point of Participatory Journalism

The ability of anyone to play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and sharing news and information is seen as one of the big shifts in journalism over the past 10 years.

But a growing body of research suggests that the advent of participatory journalism, or user-generated content (UGC), has done little to change the way the media works.
At the recent Future of Journalism conference at Cardiff University, academics presented a series of studies that further illustrated how the mainstream media is trying to tame the phenomenon.

The research paints a global picture of how journalists are seeking to maintain their position of authority and power, rather than create a more open, transparent and accountable journalistic process that seeks to work with readers.

One of the studies looked at the BBC, which is considered a pioneer in the field of user-generated content. The BBC has 23 people working in its UGC hub, up from just three in 2005, and receives thousands of comments and emails every day along with hundreds of photos and videos.

Researchers Claire Wardle, Andrew Williams and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen interviewed BBC journalists in 2007. What they found was that BBC staff see UGC as a part of newsgathering operations; basically, it's a way of obtaining photos and video, eyewitness accounts or story tip.

The researchers concluded that UGC has become institutionalized at the BBC as a form of newsgathering, consolidating the existing relationship between journalists and the audience. They did find some examples of BBC journalists that view it as a way to collaborate on stories, or as a shift towards networked journalism. But these views existed at the edges.

This institutional approach towards UGC was reflected in the BBC course on the topic, entitled "Have They Got News for Us." This session at the conference focused on how to scour comments, pictures and video from the public in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, rather than on how to collaborate with the audience on stories.

No News in Comments

Finding newsworthy material in contributions from the public is a challenge. In his study about Dutch newspapers and UGC presented at the conference, Piet Bakker found that there was little news contained in comments on stories.

From the point of view of the traditional journalist, the amount of news in comments was minimal. Instead, comments were seen as a way to attract more visitors and increase loyalty, but these benefits were counterbalanced by problems with abusive comments, a lack of contributions, and the cost of moderation.

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This ties in to another conference paper that looked at the attitudes of journalists in the U.K. when it comes to user-generated content. In interviews with local journalists working for the Johnston Press, Jane Singer found that most see the public as complementing, rather than replacing, the work of professionals. The journalists saw themselves as UGC gatekeepers, citing concerns about the quality of contributions and legal liabilities.

This approach is understandable at a time when the local press in the U.K. is in trouble. Journalists may feel under even more pressure to justify why amateurs cannot replace them, or offer meaningful contributions.

Singer found that local journalists saw a theoretical value in participatory journalism in that it's a way to promote democratic discourse. But another paper presented by Marina Vujnovic on behalf of an international group of researchers that included myself found that this ideal did not figure highly in the minds of the online editors of newspaper websites. They instead look to UGC to drive traffic, increase loyalty, and provide free content for their sites.

The Audience as Audience

These were just a few of the more than 100 papers presented in Cardiff. But they illustrate how the mainstream media is attempting to limit and control how much the public can contribute to its journalism. These studies suggest that as far as journalists and editors are concerned, the people formerly known as the audience is still known as the audience.

The space for the audience to participate in journalism is, by and large, clearly delineated. The public can send in their news tips, photos and videos, but the journalist retains a traditional gatekeeper role, deciding what is newsworthy and what isn't. There is little room for the public to be involved in the actual making of the news -- in deciding whom to interview, how to frame the story and how to produce it. Once the story is complete and published, the audience can freely comment on the final product.

An international study published in Journalism Practice concluded mainstream media is eager to open comments and post-publication discussion to the public, as this fits in with their definition of the audience as audience. But forms of pro-am or networked journalism are rare.

Online journalism is still in its infancy and it will take time for journalistic attitudes to change. But there are very few signs that news organizations are reinventing their relationship with the audience and tapping into the participatory potential of the web to reimagine journalism.

Alfred Hermida is an online news pioneer and journalism educator. He is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Journalism, the University of British Columbia, where he leads the integrated journalism program. He was a founding news editor of the BBC News website. He blogs at Reportr.net.

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Blockbuster Outlines ‘Transformation’: Will Add Kiosks, Expand Streaming, Close Stores

Blockbuster will close as many as 960 additional stores through 2010, as the movie rental chain continues to struggle with losses and debt. In a series of SEC filings, Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) outlines how it plans to transform itself into a “multi-channel brand.” In addition to focusing on fewer retail locations, it will increase the numbers of its rental kiosks from 500 to 2,500 by year end, try to grow the subscriber base of its mail-order movie business, and also expand its Blockbuster OnDemand streaming service to “nearly every connected device.”

Of course, by shutting down about a fifth of all of its retail locations, Blockbuster will also be giving its customers more reason to use many of the services that have led to its woes—and which it is belatedly trying to compete with. In a report this morning on Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), Barclays Analyst Doug Anmuth says he expects the store closings to boost Netflix’s subscriber growth.

But then again, Blockbuster does not have much of a choice but to close up the shops. It’s losing money, and the filing notes that 18 percent of all of its stores are unprofitable. Another 35 percent, meanwhile, are responsible for 80 percent of its EBITDA.