Nothing merry prankster-ish about James O’Keefe

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“The object is to expose reality,” says conservative muckraker James O’Keefe, in a New York Times Magazine feature profiling the 27-year-old firebrand as a guerrilla media maker for the right. O’Keefe doesn’t choose targets of his video stings with a particular outcome in mind, he says, but to expose where liberal values have run amok. “Let the people change things,” he says. “Remember, Congress and the president defunded Acorn, not me.”

The scandal sparked by O’Keefe’s sting of NPR’s top fundraising exec Ron Schiller doesn’t get a lot of discussion here, but the risks that he takes and the sense of injustice that motivates him does.

“O’Keefe’s stings, marked by outlandish costumes and outrageous stories, are as much theater as political statement,” writes reporter Zev Chafets for the magazine. “But there is nothing of the merry prankster about him. He is a worrier, with the bitten-down fingernails to prove it. He has a keen eye for the absurdity and hypocrisy of others, but it is unmatched by self-deprecating humor or a discernible sense of fun.”

UPDATE: Eric Boehlert of the Media Matters, the leftie blog that critiques conservative news media, reacts to the Times‘ profile of O’Keefe, describing it as a whitewash. Boehlert revisits the media trickery that O’Keefe employed for his NPR video sting and accuses profile writer Zev Chafets of glossing over his subject’s ethical lapses.