In light of On The Media's magnificent takedown of James O'Keefe, I thought it might be worthwhile to address his weak arguments head on. I don't imagine that many people who dislike O'Keefe will be very sympathetic to his claim that there's a double-standard against him, but there clearly is a small group of people who seem to take the claim seriously.
O'Keefe's basic argument is this: it's unfair that people expect him to release the full videos of his interactions when we don't expect the same from other media outlets. I can see how, on a completely abstract level, and after ignoring or being blinded to O'Keefe's history, this might make sense. However, the fact is that there are pretty important differences between O'Keefe and other media outlets and O'Keefe does have a problematic history.
So there are two basic problems with O'Keefe's argument: first, he has a history of dishonestly editing video and lying about the contents. This was clearly demonstrated in the On The Media interview. So even if you thought that we should trust information from outlets generally, we certainly shouldn't trust information from outlets that have demonstrated track records of dishonesty. Hence, there's a good reason why O'Keefe and Breitbart should be held to different standards than people who have no track record of dishonesty.
The second problem with O'Keefe's claim is that mainstream media outlets are accountable in a way that he is not. People who watch news from mainstream media outlets expect them to be honest, so if they were ever caught being as dishonest in their editing as O'Keefe is, they would severely jeopardize their self-interest (both in terms of profit and in terms of credibility). On the other hand, as has been demonstrated time and time again, if O'Keefe is caught being dishonest, he does not really lose anything of significance. His extremist followers still love him, because they believe he's waging a holy war against "the enemy," and his wealthy backers still support him because they care more about ideological battle than about the truth. Thus, O'Keefe has no accountability because he has no incentive to be honest, whereas mainstream news outlets clearly do have this incentive, even as they are being driven by market forces.
So O'Keefe's strawman is doubly flawed. His documented dishonest and lack of accountability provide good reasons for "holding him to a different standard."
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