If I’d known my fall and winter season would consist of zero 10-hour beach days, only two games of beach football and a single surf session, I would have for sure given those ACORN videos a little more thought.
Yep, September 10, 2009 hit me like a freight train; that day marked only my second trip to NYC. The first trip was a 6-hour visit a few weeks earlier that consisted of my dashing around the city in stilettos and trashy clothes gathering footage of ACORN workers acting shady.
Wake up, America
Needless to say, this go-around was a little different. Now, producers were interrogating me over at the Fox New Headquarters and I was having my hair and makeup done by professionals. All while watching myself in leather top and giant hoop earrings on multiple television screens, and begging God that I could keep my cool on national television with Glenn Beck.
That was the beginning of a raucous adventure, a whirlwind of a week between Sept 10-16 that’d make any type-A curl up in a ball and beg for mercy, and might’ve led to my insanity had I allowed myself to get caught up in the chaos it caused. But I was so absorbed in the moment and focused on getting the ACORN videos, and the truth of our story, out to the public that nothing fazed me. Plus, all the new experiences and people were extremely intriguing and I wanted to be sure and soak it all in.
A part of me realized how monumental and life-changing the whole thing was. I mean not just any 20-year old girl runs in and out of FOX studios on a week long media blitz; has the New York Post showing up at her hotel for exclusive front page interviews; can’t sleep because of the adrenaline rush that comes with being part of a breaking story that she once-upon-a-time dreamed up on a jog; or hardly communicates to her parents that she’s doing all right because of the 24/7 flood of phone calls blowing up her phone. Also, not many young adults have had CNN or Joe Conason come after them, wishing their demise.
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I didn’t read or really even see press coverage of myself during that time, which was a blessing. I knew it was going on because of what Andrew, James and my dad, Doug Giles, were telling me, but I stayed away from positive and negative coverage because I didn’t want to become either fearful or arrogant.
But it wasn’t until the day our Brooklyn footage was released that I actually felt the weight of what was going on, and that all this craziness was one hundred per cent real. It was a combination of two distinct moments. The first was in the middle of Grand Central Station and the second was late that night looking out a restaurant window.
I’m rushing into Grand Central with Andrew Breitbart 20 minutes late to an appointment. Hundreds and hundreds of people milling around us and we had no idea where we were supposed to go. When I get a text saying “Senate votes 83-7 to defund ACORN,” I was gob-smacked by the news, told Breitbart and we immediately started fact checking. It was true.
Breitbart pulls his laptop out of his bag and as we are wandering around the station, lost and late to our appointment, updates his websites, being among the very first to report the vote. It was a fascinating experience, knowing that I was a key player in the action that caused such an overwhelming bipartisan reaction in Washington and doing so unconventionally every step of the way.
Later that night, after my interview on Hannity, I ate dinner at a restaurant on Sixth Avenue. It was pretty late; I was exhausted and terribly hungry. While waiting for my meal to arrive I stepped away from the table to take a phone call from a friend. Walking over to the empty portion of the restaurant, I was faced with a giant glass-paned wall, and on the other side of it was the oversized ticker tape on the outside of the Fox building blasting the shake-up our ACORN story had caused. It was now a full-blown scandal.
Something about those big bright letters in the night scrolling around and around, telling the city our story, resonated in me more than anything up to that point. I was like a child startled in the night, creeping through a big, cold scary house only to find the disruption was Santa Claus sliding down the chimney. Leaning against the glass wall, I felt that every sense in my body was alive and telling me “Oh man oh man, this is real.”
At that moment, it didn’t matter that the mainstream media had been ignoring the story and reporting falsehoods about James O’Keefe and me. Because if we cared about them and how they did things we would’ve gone to them, and wished upon a star that they would give our footage 15 seconds of airtime, or a minor editorial.
The truth was, we were the new kids on the block, boldly challenging the old school. We overloaded their senses with vivid illustrations of what the new media is all about. We had just launched a no-holds-barred declaration of war on political corruption and the MSM, as well as a revolutionary new form of communication and expression.
Of course they would try and suppress our story. But all that meant was: game on.
And now it really is.