On The O’Keefe Affair…

…a narrative is beginning to form as to what activist filmmaker James O’Keefe was up to when he was arrested outside of Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office on Monday.

First, a video:

You’ll notice that’s O’Keefe giving out invoices to taxpayers in that package.

The story is going like this: O’Keefe went into the reception area of Landrieu’s Poydras Street office, positioning himself perfectly to record with his cell phone what was about to happen. In came Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, dressed as telephone repairmen, who told the receptionist they were with “the phone company” – not a specific phone company, just “the phone company,” and said they’d heard Landrieu’s phones weren’t working. They didn’t mention where they’d heard that – like, for example, that Landrieu’s own people said in the media their lines were “jammed” as an excuse for no one being able to get through to give her their opinion on her Louisiana Purchase deal or the healthcare bill.

So the gig was that they’d go in there, make a big show of diagnosing what was wrong with the phone lines and then leave with a “nope, seems like they’re fine” punch line for a little YouTube that comes off as a cross between Michael Moore and Borat.

Except nobody in Landrieu’s office had a sense of humor, and no sooner had O’Keefe and his guys left the building but a gaggle of U.S. Marshals descended on them – and grabbed Stan Dai out of the waiting car as well. The “listening device” Dai had with him was the sound recorder that went with O’Keefe’s cell phone camera so that the video package from O’Keefe’s camera phone would have decent sound.

If this is in fact what happened, it’s unlikely the charges in the criminal complaint will stick, though lesser charges might.

That’s the narrative which seems to be leaking out. There is another version out there, which says O’Keefe has a good bit more going on with respect to Landrieu, but for right now this line seems a good bit more plausible than the idea that O’Keefe and his people went in to bug Landrieu’s phone lines during broad daylight amid an office full of hostile employees while he recorded video of the proceedings.

If so, unless this thing is part and parcel of a whole bunch of things O’Keefe has been up to, this caper certainly fails the cost-benefit analysis. But Louisiana’s Watergate it ain’t, and if in fact this is what happened, Sen. Landrieu probably ought to ask that the charges be dropped and show a sense of humor about the whole thing – y’know, out of bipartisanship and comity and all.

And acting state Democrat party chair Mike McHale should apologize both to Sen. David Vitter, whom he smeared yesterday, and conservatives in general. Perhaps he should consider stepping down for embarrassing the state party as well.

If the emerging narrative is true, that is. We certainly wouldn’t want to jump the gun on this story.

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