James O'Keefe Landrieu "wiretap" shows how entire political class is endangering the U.S.
The recent arrest of conservative provocateur James O'Keefe for trying to "interfere" with the phones of Senator Mary Landrieu is, in itself, not overly interesting. However, what makes it very interesting is that it shows just how far down the road to Idiocracy we are and how much danger we're in as a nation. For instance, almost all of those discussing the case showing an inability to perform such simple tasks as reading a PDF file and accurately reporting on its contents. Those who demonstrated such mass stupidity are listed below, divided into three groups.
However, it first needs to be pointed out that O'Keefe and his friends were never charged with trying to "bug" or "wiretap" Landrieu's phones. I was one of the first to notice that, tweeting about it at 2:54pm Pacific on January 26th (link). I then spent too much of my time attempting to correct misinformation on various sites. Only the next day did most begin to pick up on the actual facts rather than relying on the false, initial report.
The three groups who failed are:
* O'Keefe and his friends.
Whatever they were trying to do, they weren't doing it the right way. And, that's continued to this day, with O'Keefe posting an explanation for his actions here. Most of what he says makes sense, and it's certainly far more believable than him trying to "bug" someone's phone line. However, rest assured that some of what he says in that post will be used against him in court. Note also that back in March 2009 - before I knew who he was - I discussed yet another cheap O'Keefe stunt. What I said about that stunt applies double in this case.
* The media and opponent opinion journalists
Virtually all of the initial reporting was wrong, falsely claiming that they'd been arrested for trying to "wiretap" Landrieu's office. The main fault lies with David Hammer of the New Orleans Times Picayune. His report was posted at FreeRepublic at 12:41 Pacific (link), with the title "ACORN gotcha man among four arrested for attempting to bug Mary Landrieu's office" and starting with "The FBI, alleging a plot to wiretap Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in downtown New Orleans, arrested four people Monday". The original report has been silently corrected (link).
That was then followed by a series of other reporters, TV personalities, bloggers, and others who simply repeated what the incorrect initial report said, with most still spreading misinformation even after the affidavit became available. A partial list will be added later, but the reader is urged to compile cites of those who misled about this issue.
Those generally on O'Keefe's side
Initially, Andrew Breitbart couldn't run away from this fast enough, only wising up late in the day. Others weren't much help either, with the three "blawgers" I checked (Glenn Reynolds, Ann Althouse, and the Volokh Conspiracy) only linking to false mainstream media reports rather than doing something as simple as scanning - or asking others to scan - the affidavit. No other bloggers that I saw were able to do the same, with most getting the facts wrong. Only on the day after Breitbart's post did you find some of them catching on, such as the buffoonish Patterico. And, none of them did things in a way that will have a long-term impact on those who spread misinformation about this matter; our coverage of media malpractice centers on the individual reporters involved and is designed to have a long-term discrediting effect. Their coverage is just designed to provide entertainment for their echo chambers.
Additional examples will be added, but the reader is urged to leave examples of reports that got it wrong in comments.