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Correction Request: Max Blumenthal, Salon.com

In Max Blumenthal’s article “James O’Keefe’s race problem” for Salon.com of February 3, 2010, Mr. Blumenthal makes a number of unverifiable and provably false claims regarding James O’Keefe’s attendance at a 2006 conference called “Race and Conservatism.” Below are the list of quotes containing misinformation and an explanation of why they need to be addressed by the editors of your publication.

photo in contextFrom left: Marcus Epstein, Jared Taylor, Kevin Martin, and John Derbyshire at what Max Blumenthal dubbed “a white-nationalist confab”

We kindly request corrections to all:

According to One People’s Project founder Daryle Jenkins, O’Keefe was manning the literature table at the gathering that brought together anti-Semites, professional racists and proponents of Aryanism.

As noted in this post here by Larry O’Connor, we contacted Mr. Jenkins, who identified David Weigel as his source for the claim that Mr. O’Keefe was manning the table. Mr. Weigel has denied that Mr. O’Keefe manned the table and has no knowledge to suggest Mr. O’Keefe was involved in the orchestration of the event at any level. In an interview with BigJournalism.com, Mr. O’Keefe denied having planned the event.


Together, O’Keefe and Epstein planned an event in August 2006 that would wed their extreme views on race with their ambitions.

This is false. Mr. Blumenthal offers no authority for this assertion, but even if it is implied that his source is One People’s Project’s Daryle Jenkins, Mr. Jenkins pointed to Weigel as his sole source. Mr. Weigel has denied that O’Keefe organized the event on multiple websites. In an interview with BigJournalism.com, Mr. O’Keefe denied having planned the event.

Meanwhile, O’Keefe lost his job at the Leadership Institute in 2008 for a prank call he made to an Ohio-based Planned Parenthood clinic.

Mr. O’Keefe left the Leadership Institute (LI) in May of 2007. He made the calls to Planned Parenthood in August 2007 and released the recording of those calls in February 2008.

Right-wing online publicist Andrew Breitbart, hearing of the merry prankster’s exploits, hired him to carry out the ACORN operation that would make him famous.

Mr. O’Keefe was never hired to “carry out” the ACORN operation. Mr. Breitbart played no role in the planning or production of the videos. Mr. Breitbart’s has an agreement with Mr. O’Keefe to tell his story at Breitbart’s “Big Sites.”

The photo, first published Jan. 30 on the Web site of the anti-racism group One People’s Project, shows O’Keefe at the gathering, which was so controversial even the ultra-right Leadership Institute, which employed O’Keefe at the time, withdrew its backing.

The Leadership Institute did not “withdraw its backing,” nor had it “backed” the event to begin with. Mr. Blumenthal’s claim also does not stand up to reason. It is a leap on his behalf to claim that the event was too controversial for the “ultra-right Leadership Institute” (Blumenthal’s characterization), but not for Georgetown University (where the event was ultimately held) and for author John Derbyshire, whose work regularly appears in the pages of what is perhaps America’s conservative flagship publication, National Review.

By O’Keefe’s own account, his racial troubles became acute when he entered the multicultural atmosphere of Rutgers University’s dormitory system.

Mr. O’Keefe has given no such account. He did, however, in an interview with BigJournalism.com, deny both that his “racial troubles became acute when he entered the multicultural atmosphere of Rutgers University’s dormitory system” and that he ever gave an account of that nature.

Aside from the aforementioned falsehoods in Mr. Blumenthal’s article, he repeatedly manipulated facts to further impugn Mr. O’Keefe’s character:

O’Keefe’s racial issues can be seen in many of his prior stunts, of course. The notorious ACORN videos highlighted images of himself dressed as a pimp, deceptively edited through hidden camera footage as he baited African-American office workers into making statements that could be perceived as incriminating.

It is dubius to conflate Mr. O’Keefe’s ACORN exposé with “racial issues,” particularly since the subjects of the investigations at ACORN Philadelphia and ACORN San Bernardino were white women. It can only be inferred from this passage that Mr. O’Keefe deliberately targeted black people, despite the fact that his exposés featured people of many races and both sexes.

There [the Leadership Institute], O’Keefe met Marcus Epstein, a fellow ideologue who as editor of a conservative publication at the College of William and Mary assailed Martin Luther King Jr. for “philandering and plagiarism” and challenged his patriotism and Christianity.

Together, O’Keefe and Epstein planned an event in August 2006 that would wed their extreme views on race with their ambitions.

Mr. Blumenthal makes a repeated effort throughout his column to imply a close link between James O’Keefe and Marcus Epstein. During the brief time O’Keefe and Epstein were working for the Leadership Institute concurrently (by O’Keefe’s estimate, this lasted three months or less), they were two of more than a hundred staffers. Mr. Epstein was one of approximately 60 field representatives and was assigned to South Carolina. O’Keefe and Epstein have had no other connections before or since. Asking readers to hold Mr. O’Keefe accountable for the attitudes and actions of one of his more than one hundred co-workers is irresponsible.

Together, O’Keefe and Epstein planned an event in August 2006 that would wed their extreme views on race with their ambitions. Epstein invited white nationalist Jared Taylor and homophobic white-grievance peddler John Derbyshire of the National Review to speak at the Leadership Institute’s Northern Virginia headquarters, at a mock symposium called “Race and Conservatism.”

According to a post on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront, Taylor and Derbyshire debated “the role of race in policy decisions and the racial future of the Republican party.”

When the Southern Poverty Law Center denounced Taylor’s participation in the event, sparking damaging publicity for the Institute, Epstein shifted it across the street, where he played host under the auspices of a “traditionalist” group he founded called the Robert A. Taft Club. O’Keefe joined him after the last-minute move. A speaker from the right-wing black front group Project 21, founded by white conservative David Almasi to shill for corporate clients and provide cover for conservative politicians, was added at the last minute.

Apparently, Mr. Blumenthal found it irrelevant to mention anywhere in the article that Kevin Martin was one of the three participants in the debate. Mr. Martin happens to be black and was in charge of African-American Leadership Coalition at the time.

The sum total of these errors and manipulations is the rape of a name and is unworthy of any website, paper, or magazine that is meant to be considered a news source. BigJournalism.com requests speedy corrections and retractions commensurate with the damage done.

Thank you.

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