An interview with the direct media attack dog from the famed investigative organization.
Over the years Project Veritas, the incisive undercover journalism outfit founded by James O’Keefe, has built a reputation on explosive exposes on some of the largest information corporations. Some of their recent attention-grabbing reports have involved whistle-blower-fed inside intel on the inner workings at Google, and O’Keefe exposing detailed conversations with CNN’s Jeff Zucker via conference calls.
These splashy revelations overshadow some of the other diligent works by the broader outfit, and I got the chance to discuss these other efforts with Mario Balaban, the Project Veritas Media Relations Manager. Mario listed off a number of the bigger names they have recently targeted — Twitter, FaceBook, Salesforce, and others — and explained how their reliance on the internal whistleblowers has been a growing enterprise with the organization.
”These whistleblowers have been coming to us through our Patreon platform, our website, email, they’ll DM us on Twitter, on social media – they come to us in every way imaginable. The more that come the more that is becoming,’’ explained Balaban. ”We have at least 10 people dedicated to these…going through those tips, verifying them, seeing how accurate they are, and if they can be corroborated.’’ But this is not a case of being sent a video, say, and then running with it. Their methodology involves self-verification. ”Project Veritas doesn’t do that. We need to investigate it, conduct our own investigation to investigate those leads that are given to us.’’
This very practice is something witnessed in the press of late — the Hunter Biden story is just one case — where some mainstream news organizations have almost appeared antagonistic towards other outlets conducting penetrating investigative journalism. Balaban noted this difference between approaches. ”I’d say maybe the mainstream media will probably cover anything you would give them. Project Veritas takes it a little more seriously and actually corroborates.”
While the organization makes headlines with their splashy expose work and whistleblower revelations, one other effort they work on is holding the press accountable for the way they cover the PV investigations. There is a running feature they have called the ‘’Wall Of Shame’’ where they not only compile the instances of times the press got facts incorrect when covering Veritas stories but also the retractions compelled when challenged on those facts.
Notes Balaban, ”The question is, who is checking the fact-checkers? Who is holding journalists accountable? They don’t like to be held accountable. They think they are the only ones who can hold other people accountable. No one else can do their job — or especially do their job when it comes to their work. It’s really funny that they’re offended by the notion an organization like us will hold them to account.’’
‘’What we like to do…is our wall of shame – the retractions. They like to hide the little retractions, the little updates, at the bottom of an article, after it’s done. But we make sure those little retractions get a nice James O’Keefe video. And that way when people enjoy them they go viral.’’
There is another arm they use to correct the record, and that is turning to the courts, in a unique approach. Balaban announces that Project Veritas is floating the idea of what he calls a ‘’People’s Defamation Fund’’. It would be an extension of the current legal activity the outfit conducts against the media titans. ”Because we are suing the New York Times, we’re suing these media companies that lie about us –so how about protecting the people who are being lied about but can’t do anything about it? It’s something we are considering right now.’’
I asked Mario next if this was going to be a growing practice for the organization, that they take a more aggressive stance towards these disingenuous members of the news landscape. ”We’re suing more people. We’re going on offense. We used to get sued a lot, and we won all those lawsuits — we never lost one lawsuit, not one. We won all of them. We litigate; we don’t render and don’t settle. Now we’re going on offense. If you’re lying about us we’ll sue you, and if we spot you on the street and we have a microphone in our hand, which is very likely, get ready to be asked some questions.’’
This is what bothers the press the most; using their own tactics and techniques and turning them onto the press itself. Jim Acosta encountered this very thing at the convention, as his appearance at the gathering provoked a crowd heckling him loudly. It turned out Acosta did not like his method of shouting questions and accusations being used against himself.
Project Veritas is in the process of ramping up these responsive methods and turning up the heat on the journalism industry.