Breitbart Confirms He Was Duped by O'Keefe and the ACORN Pimp Hoax

It turns out that Andrew Breitbart
didn't actually know what was on the ACORN tapes when he helped launch them on
his website last year, and used the videos to fuel his oddly personal crusade
against the low-income advocacy organization.

That's right -- Breitbart didn't know what was on the tapes. Take a
few seconds to let the implications of that confession sink in, and what it
means to Breitbart's already dented credibility.

Recall that for months Breitbart
personally vouched for the ACORN videos, braying loudly that they could not be
ignored and that they represented the unvarnished truth. Breitbart claimed he had
told "the truth" every step of the way about the controversial ACORN clips and
that "[t]hroughout the
ACORN story I applied my conscience to the

But now it turns out that Breitbart
was fooled by the ACORN pimp hoax and mistakenly assumed, after watching
deceptively edited clips from his protege James O'Keefe, that O'Keefe strolled
into ACORN offices wearing the outlandish pimp

Now Breitbart, the chief promoter of
the ACORN sting, claims he "didn't know" the truth about the tapes. Although
he's quick to insist it doesn't really matter anyway.

And yes, that sound you hear is
Breitbart throwing O'Keefe under the bus. Because it's O'Keefe who Breitbart now
blames for the "discrepancy" regarding the pimp hoax. It's O'Keefe, who
Breitbart once touted as a should-be Pulitzer
Prize winner, who created the false impression that he walked into ACORN offices
last summer dressed as a garish pimp.

In a video interview posted Monday
at Crooks and Liars, Stark
, as well as The Brad Blog, Breitbart, filmed by
blogger Mike Stark at the recent CPAC convention, claims he did not know the
facts about O'Keefe's pimp outfit. (See video below.)

Essentially, Breitbart claims he was duped like everyone
who saw the ACORN clips created by O'Keefe. He was duped because at the
outset, the misleading clips contain cut-away shots filmed outdoors, which feature O'Keefe decked out
in the cane-fur-sunglasses pimp costume. (Breitbart deceptively refers to the
dressed-as-pimp section as the "title sequence" of the videos, but it's really
much more than that.)

It appears that many viewers just assumed O'Keefe wore
the get-up while he surreptitiously filmed the ACORN workers who ignited a
scandal when they gave O'Keefe and his pretend prostitute girlfriend, Hannah
Giles, tax advice on how to run a brothel.

The dressed-as-a-pimp storyline was
one Breitbart, O'Keefe, and others eagerly pushed last fall. And it was one the
press quickly embraced. (In
truth, O'Keefe was often dressed rather conservatively -- slacks and dress shirt
-- when he talked to ACORN staffers, and he often presented himself as a law
school student and an aspiring politician trying to rescue his prostitute
girlfriend from her abusive
pimp.) The outlandish costume was used as a prop to both mislead viewers, and to
make ACORN staffers look like idiots for not being able to spot the obvious

But it was all a hoax. And for weeks
now, ever since the trick was highlighted by blogger Brad Friedman, Breitbart has been
wrestling with the glaring contradiction and struggling to explain his own role
in the hoax. He's been straining to explain why, for instance, in a September 21
column in The Washington Times, Breitbart specifically
claimed O'Keefe had been "dressed as a pimp" while receiving tax advice from
ACORN workers.

That claim was categorically false.

He's been laboring to explain why he
never sought a single correction last year when an avalanche of news outlets
erroneously reported O'Keefe was
dressed as a pimp inside ACORN offices.

And he's been struggling to explain
why, in light of the pimp hoax, he refuses to release all of the unedited ACORN
tapes so we can see what other discrepancies might
pop up

At least now, thanks to Stark, we
finally have Breitbart's unequivocal admission: It was all O'Keefe's fault.

From the Stark interview [emphasis
added; full transcript here]:

Hello to anyone that thinks that I
was misleading. I did not know that there was
a discrepancy between the title sequence
-- I didn't think it was significant. I saw the videos. I read the transcripts
to make sure that there was continuity, and my only mistake -- and
I've admitted it to Brad, I've admitted it, now that I now know about it -- is
that there is a title sequence and it doesn't
reflect what he was wearing when he was in there.
But he still represented himself as a

In the interview, Breitbart also
stressed that because O'Keefe is an "independent film producer," Breitbart
couldn't "tell him what to put on these things." And to make his point clear,
when Stark pressed further about the hoax, Breitbart responded, "Your problem is
with James."

Breitbart may have tried to shift
the blame, but the admission was a devastating one. After all, he's the guy who
stop bragging
about how he's going to reinvent online journalism, and how he
and his conservative activists are going to shame the liberal media with
relentless fact-checking. Yet it turns out that for the biggest story of his
career, Breitbart didn't even know what was
on the ACORN tapes

Not only did Breitbart clearly fail
Journalism 101 in this case, but the way he's refused to publicly accept
responsibility for the blunder represents another body blow to his credibility.
To date, Breitbart has made no effort to correct the record on his site, which
helped launch the ACORN sting. Which means that, to date, Breitbart's
sycophantic readers have not been told that, oh, by the way, that whole
dressed-as-a-pimp thing was bogus.

With that in mind, what journalist
would take seriously the next undercover video sting Breitbart might sponsor,
when we find out that for the all-important ACORN caper he didn't even know what
was on the tapes until observers pointed out a glaring discrepancy?

Meanwhile, should we believe
Breitbart's pimp spin? Tough to say. It probably represents his only way out of
this mess. If Breitbart actually confessed that he knew the pimp costume story was a
fake, and that not only
did he do nothing to try to stop the misinformation last year but actively
helped to spread the hoax, then I
think his credibility would be permanently demolished. At that point even
mainstream journalists, who tend to turn a blind eye to Breitbart's mendacity,
would have to acknowledge he is nothing more than a partisan propagandist.

So, searching for a face-saving move, it appears
Breitbart has opted for Plan B: Blame the young "independent film producer"
O'Keefe, who brought the videos to Breitbart, complete with the misleading pimp
costumes shots already embedded. (Does Breitbart really expect people to believe
that he never had a single
conversation with O'Keefe about the pimp outfit prior to the release of the

The problem with Breitbart's alibi
(i.e. it's O'Keefe's fault!) is that it means Breitbart has copped to the fact
that he didn't know what was on the tapes that he relentlessly hyped and used as
a weapon in his oddly unhinged attack on ACORN, an underfunded and somewhat
adrift nonprofit that advocates for poor people. (In one disturbed dispatch from
a pro-ACORN rally last year, Breitbart attacked
the attendees as "common street thugs, the dregs of

His new song and dance (literally --
see the 6:40 mark in the video below) is that none of this matters because
it's irrelevant whether O'Keefe was dressed flamboyantly inside the ACORN
offices. It's true, as I've stated many times, that the costume question does
not negate what was captured on the ACORN videos. But the hoax certainly
does matter in terms of the
larger ACORN attack and how the press embraced it. Breitbart knows it, and
that's why he's been so slow to clear up the confusion. (And it's why he seemed
so eager last year to spread the

As the blogger Digby recently

But the less than obvious reason
this is a big deal is that the pimp and ho costumes were a send-up of
over-the-top racial stereotypes that both reinforced some very ugly notions
about the African American community, but more importantly, made these ACORN
workers look as though they were so dumb they shouldn't be allowed to cross the
street, much less handle tax dollars. And this was done for a reason.

The pimp hoax is not some footnote
that can just be dismissed. The glaring blunder goes to the heart of Breitbart's
credibility as a wannabe journalist. The lie was absolutely central to the
rollout of last year's ACORN attack campaign. And now, six months later,
Breitbart claims he didn't know the first thing about the hoax because, truth be
told, he didn't even know what was on the
ACORN tapes.

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