The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
Eric Weinstein 0:05
Hello, this is Eric and I wanted to alert you to a small experiment, I think we’re going to be running in the portal. For a while now we’ve realized that many episodes have needs at the beginning of the show. In the first place, there’s a need for some housekeeping. And then the second, there’s often a need to give some context and a short introduction to the episode so that our listeners can better understand why we’re running it. Well, what we thought about is that maybe we should stop doing that haphazardly. If instead, we just decided that there would be two segments, one dedicated to housekeeping sometimes light, sometimes more extensive. And then the second we had a segment that actually gives the context and an introduction to the guest or whatever the point of a monologue might be. I don’t guarantee that it’s going to work and we reserve the right to go back but we are trying to listen to you and trying to figure out what is doable. The second item of business surrounds the set of rather exotic circumstances under which this week’s podcast is being released as of this recording, I am Self isolating at home under essentially locked down like measures as a quarantine mentality sweeps across our planet. One way of viewing this is to see it as a giant overreaction. Now, I don’t hold this view and I don’t wish to promote it. But the idea is that we have learned to live with influenza. And this virus is similar in some ways to the familiar flu. I’m sure you’ve heard this from others, I don’t want to go into it and develop the idea here. A second way of seeing this is as an incredibly rapid societal change in deeply groove behavior patterns unfolding over perhaps the last seven to 14 days in earnest. From this angle, it is astonishingly authentic, as measured at least by the speed of change, and thus, perhaps it could signal the beginning of the end of the nearly 50 year dream state we have discussed on this program that set in sometime in the early to mid 1970s. And signaled the end of the previous post war growth regime. Yet a different way of looking at the reaction to the pandemic is to view it as a slow and inadequate response to a very serious situation, to this way of thinking the most authentic Among us were worried about the situation since at least January 2020. And they were simply getting no traction in talking through why they were alarmed when attempting to convince the rest of us. Of course, all three positions have some merit. But the first seems misguided to me. And I think the last has the most substance. Many people have asked me how I’m since making in the current environment, the answer is rather disappointing. My answer is that I unfortunately appear to be among the most confused of my colleagues. Almost everywhere I turned people around me are nearly certain of things that contradict with various others of my colleagues know to be true. Unsurprisingly, most of these colleagues have settled on various strategies on which they place great emphasis. So then the problem is definitely ventilators unless it is really reagents and testing instead, or perhaps nothing else matters like behavior modification, that is effect scenes and treatments aren’t the clear way to go. I want to share with you what I get from listening in on such private conversations with some of the most respected names in health, science and technology. I’m sorry to say what I get is confusion. I’m sorry to report that after many phone calls and having read a fair amount, I have not heard a truly coherent, comprehensive narrative emerge around this virus. No one really trusts China to report on itself. And we don’t yet have enough time with the disease outside of China to speak about it sufficiently authoritative Lee. So what am I doing personally? Well, the first thing that I’m at least trying to do is to stop listening to the various sources that fed me bad information, initially telling me not even to worry, when I had the maximum amount of time to prepare and to be authentic. That kind of reporting is what I’ve elsewhere referred to as pure journal genic harm. Now you can say that democracy dies in darkness with a fancy tagline. But it also dies in civil society when you are the major news site and you write meaningless fluff pieces on what are ultimately life and death issues, inducing people to undertake exactly the wrong course of action. Unfortunately, that means that I’ve more or less been forced to give up on a lot of mainstream news like The Washington Post or The Daily Beast, after they both condescendingly warned us against reacting to the threat of the virus. Similarly, I am trying not to listen to any messaging specifically designed to calm me down or to distress me. Now, why is that? Well, first of all, what stresses me out most, and I’m just being honest here is some questionable expert trotted out with a PhD who’s leading response to a deadly virus is to lecture us on psychology. I mean, if I’m on lockdown, I want to be talking about viruses about morbidity and mortality. I want to see grisly autopsy photos, the ones that the experts have, not because I’m mccobb, but because they help explain what we’re up against and why the government is reacting. so strongly information data risk assessment, that’s what calms me down. And I suspect it works the same way with a lot of you as well. I want information and guidance the same way the experts do. How bad is this? I mean, people in the know right now are talking about the potential for multi month quarantines much longer than the three week ones that are currently being discussed in public, as well as about much higher respiratory burdens on the young who recover. Contrast that with the talk of, quote, full recovery, close quote that I am more commonly hearing in mainstream discussions. I’m sorry. But in terms of morbidity, I don’t think recovery from this illness is anywhere near as full or as free as is being discussed. That wouldn’t make sense to me. In fact, a friend of mine listening to me suggested looking up ground glass opacities, and I thanked her for that search string, I think you might find it interesting as well. But instead of an expectation of full information, we are too often getting the opposite. To put it bluntly, we seem to always be managed rather than informed. To the best of my understanding. We are all in the famous metaphoric, crowded theater and the powers that be have been cutting costs for decades by making our exits smaller and smaller. So their current focus isn’t getting as few people to panic as possible. When the correct thing to do is to ask why are leaders didn’t push for larger exits before the crisis. Now in the metaphor those larger exits would be deeper reserves and larger emergency cushions of ventilators, hospital beds, reagents for testing, all the things that a successful civil society would naturally want deeply stocked in just such an emergency. So we have a bit of a conflict, the right thing to do in an ideal world would be to level with nations that had been all the while properly prepared for actual society wide adversity. But to begin, that now would mean admitting to Universal institutional failure in the previous era to adequately prepare for any event of this kind. Thus, what I’m planning to do on a going forward basis is twofold. First, I’ve stopped listening to any exoteric mainstream messaging meant to manage panic, just as I’ve started slogging through esoteric medical and scientific communication. But the second part of this is no less important. I’ve started to privilege the information implicitly contained in ostensibly self destructive economic behavior coming from governments far too under the control of elite economic interests to begin with. That is I don’t think anyone in positions Have asymmetric information in power, but adopt these measures unless the virus was very severe indeed, because the financial risks are themselves catastrophic. Thus, as far as the government is concerned, I am looking at the severity of their actions and turning down the audio of their words. If the two are conflicting, I am taking more information from what we are putting at risk than I am from descriptions that are being shared with the public. So, to sum up, please take this seriously, we don’t yet have a way to filter the information, misinformation and disinformation with which we are all being bombarded. What can you do? Well, the best we may be able to do is to turn off the audio meant to calm the masses and try to start reading the technical literature if we can. And lastly, watch for the sign that powerful interests are willing to put the very markets which enrich them at risk to fight this. That is a bit counterintuitive, but in the end, the revealed preference and the content of that information may be the best that we have at this point.
Okay, so thanks. Your local and federal government as well as the Coronavirus. If you’re like me you were sheltering in place while this is being recorded, and maybe starting to go ever so slightly stir crazy thanks to a near lockdown, which we can’t refer to in real terms. So what are you going to do with the time? How about pursuing some of the dreams that you have on hold? returning sponsor Skillshare is a university in a pocket with experts teaching classes on everything under the sun via short curated videos, I had been meaning to start dipping my toes into the shallow end of deep learning with TensorFlow, and I found the class deep learning and neural networks with Python taught by Frank Kane Wallah, I was immediately presented with 21 well thought out and supported professionally produced short videos to watch binge pause, complete or abandon at my leisure. So stop putting your dreams on hold and don’t let a lock down by any other name go to waste. So explore your creativity and get two free months of premium membership at Skillshare comm slash portal. That’s two months of unlimited access to thousands of classes for free. Get started and joined today by heading to Skillshare comm slash portal and get two free months of unlimited access to thousands of classes skillshare.com slash portal Let me give you a puzzle I was facing. I absolutely loved guns, germs and steel by Jared Diamond. But I haven’t always taken to his more recent books nearly as much. So the question for me was with my busy schedule, should I make the investment to read his new book upheaval about the crises and recoveries of great nations. That’s when I turned to returning sponsor blankest. You see, blink is has a team of close readers and writers who created an index of 15 minutes so called blinks in both written and audio form, and they quickly summarize and digest the main theses of myriad nonfiction titles that allowed me to use my time to figure out whether or not to make the investment in a book that I was interested in, or just stick with the summary. In this case, their digestion helped me make the right choice. With blankest you get unlimited access to read or listen to a massive library of condensed nonfiction books, all the books you want and all for one low price. So right now for a limited time, Linkous has a special offer just for our audience, go to blink is calm slash portal and try it free for seven days and you’ll save 25% off your new subscription that’s blink is spelled Li nk is t blink is calm slash portal to start your free seven day trial. You’ll also save 25% off but only when you sign up at plinkus comm slash portal.
I would like to say some brief words of introduction to today’s episode with James O’Keefe Project Veritas. First of all, I respect James for being willing to come on the portal as our beginning interaction on Twitter was not auspicious. As I recall, I wrote I hate this shitty hidden camera gadget crap. And Perhaps unsurprisingly, he took immediate exception. I found his response interesting and invited him on the program to explain himself, and to my surprise, he accepted despite my unconcealed hostility. I admired that willingness to face a critic and I’ve endeavored ever since with James to be a constructive one. On a preliminary setup call. I promised him that there would be no gotchas and he actually said that was unnecessary. I told him that our politics were likely opposite and then I wouldn’t pull any punches nor would I pretty 10 that was without admiration for some of what he does, such as in the case of his pushing out the famous Amy Robach hot mic video. This release revealed that higher ups at ABC News may have been deliberately holding back the Epstein story for years. In that video, the subject matter was of utmost public interest and the reporter caught on the Hot mic was made to look even more heroic and having gotten the story early. I did tell James, however, that I didn’t like his choice of targets and that his methods made me very negatively disposed to the entire Project Veritas endeavor. He simply asked me to keep an open mind as he felt that he had answers to all of my concerns. As it happens, however, I believe that we had a conversation that would have been very difficult to predict by either one of us have we not simply gone ahead and tried to better understand each other. The decision to invite James O’Keefe onto the program was not taken lightly. Why is this? Well, it’s because of an idiotic game many in the regular media play which we might call contamination in this fool’s game, if you so much as interview James O’Keefe you are marked by extension as damaged goods. Now this fools absolutely no one who’s paying attention, claiming that everything Project Veritas does is unreliable when often they are merely sharing unedited continuous footage that they have been sent is not a convincing argument for those in the know. In essence, James O’Keefe is after all, a creation of our mainstream media. their decision not to aggressively pursue many stories of great importance has created opportunity. And if you believe that James O’Keefe has absolutely nothing to contribute, I do hope you more than anyone will enjoy this interview with him. Everybody loves a great David and Goliath story. 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Hello, you found the portal. I’m your host Eric Eric Weinstein and I get to sit down today with James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas. James, welcome. Great to be here. I’m really glad to have you. Now, you know, of course that by just having you in that chair, some percentage of the world is going to go bananas and say, Oh, my God, Eric has jumped the shark. He’s beyond the pale. He’s gone too far. He’s platform somebody should never be platform. And this is going through my head, even as we speak. And part of the reason I bring that up is that I want to fight that which is That’s ridiculous. You’re an important figure, we need to talk to you, we need to understand you. And I also want to just begin by commending you because you got to be here in part by your answering a tweet of mine by just being open about the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being fair to you. And maybe I would just begin by reminding our viewers and listeners how this began. Okay, shall we do that? Sure. Okay, so you, Project Veritas had just caught David Wright of abc news on undercover camera saying some things that he probably shouldn’t have. Yeah. And he was suspended by ABC as a result of Project Veritas his actions and you tweeted that out, and I responded, why is this person suspended because he’s a socialist question mark because he thinks Trump is a dick question mark because he discusses the dinosaur broadcast broadcast channels, because he is thinking about institutional bias dunno, and then I say, I also have to admit, I hate this shitty hidden camera gotcha crap. And your response was you hate the shitty hidden camera gotcha crap, right was in a public space speaking freely amongst his peers. in newspapers, that’s called reporting you’re prejudiced against the method doesn’t make any sense. You prefer a report this all caps without the audio quotation, anonymously sourced close quote. And I thought that was a really interesting comeback. So if I just can recall, I said thank you James for this question. Let me answer this as honestly as I can we have a William Tell problem, aim too high and you miss the story aim too low and you kill the impact due to the uncomfortable methods. In my opinion, you are aiming too low and I am aiming too high. And I think that that really comes down to the the interesting issue that we have for listeners and viewers today, which is I think you and I are agreed on a lot about the problems in the current system. And we’re radically divided by the methods. And I’m very concerned about the damage Project Veritas is doing and I’m also interested in the progress Project Veritas is making and most people want to have a one or the other perspective, right. And I have a superposition of the two issues. So I thought
Unknown Speaker 17:52
that place to start, that’d be a great place to start. Do you want to talk a little bit about how you saw the interaction and any background that you want to bring to the conversation?
James O’Keefe 18:00
It’s a lot to unpack here. There’s a million things, directions to go into. But I thought that was a very interesting conversation and credit to you. Because after having the conversation, you actually invited me to talk to you and to call you in that in kudos to you, because most of the people I deal with, don’t even think that I’m human, they kind of want to dehumanize me, they don’t want to engage me in a conversation. So thank you. I appreciate that. I think that a lot of people, it’s extensively about the methods of what we do, but in reality, it’s about the findings. It’s actually not about the methods. It’s it’s used as a kind of an excuse. And in that particular tweet, Twitter thread you were referring to. This is a common theme. It’s it’s the ethics of recording someone like David Wright was in a bar in New Hampshire and do we want to live in a world where our likeness can be broadcasted and transmitted instantly to everybody. A lot of people don’t want to live in that world. My argument is going to be and has been my whole life that reporters out there, there’s a routine nature in journalistic methods to both utilize deception and to broadcast things to the world that are not as accurate as a camera would be. There’s a routine nature first of all of using pretense. journalistic deception is standard in the industry reporters, make you think that they’re your friend, and then they betray your confidence. They appeal to your sense of loneliness or vanity and then they betray you they pull the rug underneath you. That’s That’s what I meant when I said, that’s the paragon of investigative reporting. And then when it comes to the actual medium itself, which we will talk about here today, the camera is a more accurate version of the events in question. So surely, not just from a legal perspective, but from a moral one. We would consider it consider it unreasonable to place ethical restrictions on recordings On one, when we don’t place restrictions on someone writing what they said down with a pencil and paper and shouting it from the rooftops Five minutes later, because the recording does the individual more justice than second hand here say, you know, words are different mediums. So that was the point I was making to you. And, and I think you had a very we had a very honest back and forth there and I appreciate it.
Eric Weinstein 20:24
Well, thanks very much. And it’s a great, you know, I think your your tagline is something like Be brave, be brave, do something, be brave, do something. And I think that it’s brave to come into somebody’s studio when you know that they’ve got a problem with you from the get go. So kudos to you, sir. I think that you and I are so let me also just try to be radically different than most of these interviews. I’ve told you that there will be no gotchas. And I’m gonna stick to that because I don’t I don’t like gotchas, your perspective which I thought was incredibly Honest was, that’s that’s an interesting thing to say. Because gotcha is in some sense what I James O’Keefe do we Project Veritas? And so what I said in response was, it’s an interesting question whether or not the gotcha problem that I see in the news industry should be doubled, where you you’ve got your back to the gotcha ORS. Or you should try to set an example of cut that shit out. Right. And that’s in part what I try to do, which is I try to go after institutions, I try to not go after individuals. What I wanted to talk about, in part is that because I see you and I, as in agreement, that there is a serious problem with the sense making architecture that currently goes into the name of journalism, and it’s not clear what that architecture is actually doing. And I think it’s clear it’s it’s more and more Americans and others, increasingly are asking, Is this even really what journalism is supposed to be all about as we start to see the mechanism fail because I’m agreed with You there’s a serious problem. I don’t think that when I say I’m really disturbed by the methods, that I’m part of the thing that’s trying to protect the institutions, which is I think what you’re usually getting from people who think you’re the devil. I think what I’m really concerned about in part is is that you are actually damaging the enterprise that I’m interested in by pursuing and in some ways I sort of view you as analogous to Donald Trump. Okay, and here’s here would be the argument. Again, it’s a loose analogy. It’s not a tight one. We have a situation in which, for example, no one is allowed to bring up all of the problems with immigration within the standard architecture of news. In general, there’s only one role for the restriction list and that is the role of a xenophobe, which is preposterous. It’s idiotic, it’s beyond belief. The way in which that weird meme has perpetuated has been perpetuated for at least 30 to 40 years, where there’s only one reason to apply immigration. And that’s because of a moral failing of the self can only happen by the news choosing not to report all of the reasons one can be a restriction list. So as an example of the comparison, I would say Trump found a way to talk about immigration and restriction ism openly in a way that many Americans could respond to because a lot of Americans actually want immigration restricted. On the other hand, he tinges it with stuff he played with he whether or not he was actually openly racist or not, you can make the argument that he went right up to a line and that he caused people to complete thoughts in their own head that he didn’t actually say. But he got very close to some very ugly sentiments, at the barest minimum, and in part, the method of bringing something dangerous up in public tinge that perspective with a kind of meanness or unsavory Enos that I didn’t think that it needed at all. So the vacuum was created by the media not functioning as it should. Trump filled the vacuum. And he also brought this extra little bit, which was an unsavory tinge to the subject. In some sense, I would say, I see you as doing real journalism, hard hitting journalism. And that is to your credit, and then it is tinge with something which I see is very disturbing, which is kind of methods that make us all uncomfortable. And I think you’re quite correct to point out that journalism it’s is itself openly a deceptive practice as practiced by the institutions. And I want to just say, I also find the journalist practice of trying to be your best friend and then stabbing you in the back disgust.
James O’Keefe 24:44
Okay, good, man. There’s a lot, a lot to unpack there. Where do I begin? Let me just address the the characterization that I’m a gotcha person, which came
Eric Weinstein 24:55
from you It didn’t I didn’t say Fair enough,
James O’Keefe 24:57
fair enough. And I and I may want to correct my here because maybe there’s a universe of
Eric Weinstein 25:03
gods, I may have said it in the tweet, but I didn’t mean to say or No, I understand.
James O’Keefe 25:07
So I think, I think we don’t even quote people, we, we let them be themselves we assimilate with the people like at the bar. And in when you know, we’re letting people be their natural selves. Sometimes people don’t have the courage to be themselves in public, in the way that we record people. And a lot of these people in the media that we’ve recorded, like, whether it be Patrick Davis at CNN, or this guy’s right at ABC, they didn’t have the courage to say these things publicly. And I happen to agree with these people what they said. But when it comes to the, the methods, you have a choice to make, you can either from my perspective, deceive your audience, or you can, for lack of a better word, deceive the person that you’re interviewing, such that you can tell the truth to the audience and and one is Worse than the other and you only have these two choices. And that’s what that’s what I mean, Gunter Waldorf was a hero of mine, he was a legendary undercover reporter in Germany still alive. He’s in his 70s. And and this man said, and I don’t like the way he utilizes the word deception, but he says My task is to deceive in order not to be deceived, to break the rules of, of the game in order to disclose the secret rules of the power structure. And a lot of ethicists have basically said the same thing and when it comes to this sort of journalism, it’s you only have two choices. You can you can hate the methods, but then you’re going to broadcast lies to the public, and telling the truth to the public is paramount. The public has a right to know this information. So you can you know, this sort of the beauty and bane of ethics is that I guess it’s it’s always situational. But we’ve reached a point in the media. I mean, you know, look at what’s happening this week with this Mass hysteria to we can that’s another subject. But that that the the mass media has become so, so far gone an industrial system of this production that manufacturers consent that we’re getting to the point now where I believe these methods are universally justifiable because the media is so broken. And I have a choice to make. I can repeat what they say to me at a podium or into a microphone. Or I can, or I can use disguise, which we believe is morally necessary. And I would even go so far as to say it’s actually immoral not to use disguise. If the only way that you can get to that truth is to use disguise and other reporters throughout the 20th century agreed with me. Many of these people are not alive anymore. But at this point, it’s gotten so bad, that we think that these tactics are completely necessary because we live in a country where the public’s right to know No, is very important. We cherish the First Amendment we we, you know, hold these truths to be self evident, we we believe in the First Amendment so much that you’re going to have to deal with the methods, you’re going to have to deal with the possibility that the person sitting next to you has a recording device. Because we cherish these values if you want to live in a different society which doesn’t cherish those values, which which leans towards secrecy and the public not knowing things, then you don’t have to deal with those methods. And that’s, that’s in short order, why we believe that undercover work. Pretending to be something that you’re not in order to extract truths from people are not just justified, they’re morally necessary in this environment.
Eric Weinstein 28:51
Good. So can we both say that weren’t possible to get at the truth without you deception, it would be better to do it if that was possible in that circumstance society
James O’Keefe 29:04
professional journalists, I think it was in the early 70s said, because they always throw this stuff in me, you know, society professional journalists, I don’t know who the journalism gods are that came up with these rules. But the society professional said, you know, you only use it as a last resort. And I would submit to you that we’re basically there that we that we have we have a last resort in our society. Right was not deceived in that bar inside abc news. He was the undercover reporter met with him and and let him be himself. We didn’t really have to use that much deception to be honest with you. We we this is the tape that we released two weeks ago if your audience hasn’t seen it, it’s an ABC News veteran news correspondent. He’s an Oxford educated guy, very, very, very intelligent man. And I happen to agree with everything he says he says, so I don’t have the quote with me. But he says My boss is Don’t see an upside in reporting the news. ABC owns Disney. They sell their Marvel Avengers. I agree. I understand what you uncovered everything he said. So we didn’t really use that much deception we got close to him and allowed him to talk allow him to be himself very minimalist deception or deception pales in comparison with there’s a
Eric Weinstein 30:23
there’s a relative deception question. Okay. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, I want to I want to see to you wherever I can see to you and I want to fight you wherever I can to fight you. And then I’m happy to change my mind and I hope that I can change yours and we’ll find out. I have definitely had the experience when talking to a reporter who screws up a story. Come on, you know the game, Eric, you’re a sophisticated guy. You’ve been around the block. I’m supposed to be your best friend. I’m supposed to lure you into a false sense of security. You’re supposed to divulge too much to me. I’m supposed to tell you that I understand everything from you. And then I have to print the story because journalism Is printing what people don’t want printed or otherwise it’s public relations. You know that quote Eric? Right. So I think it’s absolutely correct. That what you’re saying is true journalists view.
James O’Keefe 31:12
Are you going to naming some excuse me? Are you going to name examples of the people who have said that to you?
Eric Weinstein 31:20
I can tell you that I got into a pretty bad situation with the Wall Street Journal at some point. I can tell you that the New York Times put me in an article called they tried to outsmart Wall Street where they tried to shift the blame for the 2008 crisis off of this CEOs and bank heads and onto mathematicians and quants, which was completely deceptive and ridiculous. They use their physics reporter. Yeah, whose name is Dennis Overby, and I thought that was a complete hatchet job. I can tell you that. You know, Nellie Bowles, who I’ve become friendly with at the New York Times, tried to print an article about me as a men’s rights advocate when I didn’t even know what Mr. Ray stood for. And I said, I don’t even own a gun. Yeah, I’m not afraid of that. On the other hand, I’ve talked to Nellie, you know, since and we’ve come to a better understanding, I think Michael Phillips was the journalists who covered me at the Wall Street Journal who did a complete hatchet job on me and I had to go through Byron column. So
James O’Keefe 32:29
yeah, I can name names, if that’s, that’s actually what I was looking for. And the point being is that, you know, we were not beat reporter we’re not we’re not,
Eric Weinstein 32:39
you know, I’m trying to come. Right, right. Sure thing, I do understand what I think you’re saying, which is that the game of reporters is to be these sort of deceptive sociopath, if you will, and then you get to say, No, no, I’m not a sociopath. I’m a reporter. So if you have sociopathic tendencies, in some sense, you get to work for one of these papers, and then you’ll get a halo attack. To your head, which allows you to do things, which in other circumstances would be completely deceptive. And in fact, your point to me, and I think this is great, and this is just like super complicated we’re gonna have to take the time to do it is is that the style of reporting that you do has gone out of favor in a certain sense, because of the cost because of the risks. And then what you’re doing is, in some sense, resuscitating an earlier form of journalism in a different medium in a different medium, with a different tinge and a different institutional backing. And so I think that this is an incredibly complex thing to be pulled apart. Because, in some sense, what happened in my into my way of thinking is, is the journalists used to hunt institutions when they were heroes and kings. And then they went from hunting institutions to hunting the the individuals that disrupt institutions, yes, hundred percent. And so my feeling about this is you want to know why the reputation of the press is in the toilet. It’s in general because what it does is as it has changed. It’s the focus of its crosshairs to noble individual. Let’s talk about that for one minute.
James O’Keefe 34:07
Sure. The thing that I’ve learned doing this is that and the New York Times did a front page pit, you know, attempted hit piece on me literally one week ago. And in this, it was about like spies. Some people in the intel community were helping train some people. And there was a paragraph in this front page, New York Times was chock full of circumstantial evidence, one of the paragraphs said, you know, it’s not clear what the relationship is between Trump and O’Keefe and so forth. So on that one little paragraph the way they worded that it was literally it’s just not clear that was the the meat of their argument. It’s not clear was the extent of their evidence, and then that justified a circumstantial headline, which was used to create a I don’t know if it was common cause or some left leaning ethics group filing complaint against me. And what it is, is it’s what Daniel boring In the former Library of Congress called a pseudo event, the shadow has become the substance. These, these people create these fake things. And number two, what happens is that people in the government, these beat report, I call them beat reporters, they have a source in government, which leaks them information. And then and then reportedly, this happened, that leak that thing, which I don’t do that. But I’m not a beat run investigative reporter, which is a huge world of difference. A B report depends upon these people in the power structure to feed them intelligence. It’s like a counter intelligence operation, someone in the government some two star general talks to the New York Times. And we don’t know who that two star generals, we don’t know their name. We don’t know what motivates them. We don’t know why they’re doing it. We don’t know what they’re saying. We don’t know the full quote. And this is that this is the status quo of journalism. So when you unpack that, and you
Eric Weinstein 35:55
think I don’t have a problem with journalism, and in exactly this capacity,
James O’Keefe 35:59
I’m sorry. Do you think I do You don’t have a problem with it or you do. I mean,
Eric Weinstein 36:02
you and I just began this by singing Gershwin together to check our mic levels. True, I would imagine that you and I are pretty harmonious on the idea that our major institutions of news of news gathering and dissemination are wildly out of, but the reason why that matters is because this is we’re trying to diagnose what is wrong and how we got there. And what happened was, look, I can do this stuff in my sleep in a in a rambling interview, internet personality, Eric Weinstein sat down with right wing activists, James O’Keefe, James proceeded to go ahead and justify his methods which have previously been found unethical by his peers in the journalistic community through a series of ends justify the means points that failed to land or something like it can go on and on and on.
James O’Keefe 36:55
What would you like to focus on?
Eric Weinstein 36:56
Well, the point that I’m trying to get at is okay, I know how They play this game. I know that there’s a to be short paragraph seven paragraphs in where the actual information is shared, right? I know the highly placed sources say x, I know that they cut the quotes, they changed the context. Right? Okay, all of this stuff is assumed, but you don’t know my audience. I got the best audience and all the podcasts. I mean, I have the biggest podcast by people who will dig into anything we talk about. And we don’t need to handhold for them. And they they got it. They also believe, probably mostly in the need for journalism. They understand the problems with the major institutions of journalism. That’s not really what occupies us. If we spend our time there. We’re going to stay in the shallow end, we won’t get anything done. All right. Okay. Assume that there’s a terrible problem in news now. And assume that in some sense, you are actually a throwback to an earlier more aggressive style of journalism. But you’re also picking up some serious negatives and I don’t think think that the trade offs are the way you say they are. And so that’s, I want to get to the next level conversation rather than the intro conversation. Let somebody else have that. Sure. Okay. I don’t think you’re on the efficient frontier would be a better way of saying what my problem is with with you and Project Veritas. In other words, you’re saying that you have to deceive the source at some level who, which is a negative, you’d prefer to do as little of that as possible. So you have two objectives. One is you want to inform the public, and you want to deceive the source as little as possible. I don’t think that you’re at the point where you have to trade off one to get the other I think you could do actually deceive less and get more and I could be wrong about that. Okay. Okay. One thing you could do, for example, just to limit the damage to human beings, would be to pixelate people and say this is a senior reporter. We disguise the voice. We’ve pixelated the image. Our interest isn’t the report. The reporter is only as important as that chair. And our focus is on the chair. And if you did that, at some level, you would say, Look, I’m not trying to humiliate somebody. I’m not trying to make them unemployable. I’m trying to say you’ve got a problem in the news media, what is your problem, and it would be seen differently, it would be seen as his focus isn’t the issue of sticking it to the enemy. His focus is trying to get journalism to function properly.
Unknown Speaker 39:30
James O’Keefe 39:32
Let me try to address that. I mean, I think it’s
Eric Weinstein 39:34
does the point makes sense? But I think
James O’Keefe 39:36
so, as I explained this, cut me off if I’m going in the wrong direction,
Eric Weinstein 39:40
correct me if I have a wrong impression.
James O’Keefe 39:42
I’m trying to understand your point. So let me let me see if I can answer this. I think going back to your point about newspaperman in the 1970s It wasn’t that they were blood, blood thirsty or had a lust for bloodlust because, you know, people get fired when you expose things. It was that they had an instinct Go for the juggler but not be bloodthirsty. And I think that investigative reporting does in fact harm people. I do think it does. And that’s, that’s the premise. It’s a outcome of truth telling. And if your goal is to limit damage to people, it’s going to maybe this is where we disagree come into conflict. With investigative reporting, I your point about pixelating faces I think about this a lot. I think about the ethics of this a lot. And what makes what we do a renaissance to your point about 20th century and boring it is a renaissance newspaper men used to do all this stuff and we could talk about this later in the show or right now, whatever your whatever your preferable It is the only way to to slip the disc so to speak. In my view, the only way is to is to is to focus on a shift in the medium with the fact that we don’t pixelate the faces the facts that like elinsky said Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it, the fact that you have an actual service Alinsky if it’s all in Spanish, I’m not a fan of him. He’s stating what I think is a reality about forcing a reaction. I’m a progressive who can’t stand
Eric Weinstein 41:14
it. Well, I don’t agree though. You’re a conservative who actually thinks it’s
James O’Keefe 41:17
interesting. No, it’s not. It’s not binary. I don’t like Alinsky. I’m quoting something he’s saying. I appreciate the universal truth about human behavior. If you pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it, you’re more prone to generate a reaction we can talk about this later. sure that I think slips the disc. So when you don’t pixelate the face, when you show the intonation, the body language, the the the cadence the way that the man looks in his eyes, Patrick Davis at CNN when we covertly filmed him, he was an unwitting whistleblower. He did not. He was not a villain. He was not a villain. And some ethicists might say, Well, why would you put that poor managing editor at CNN on blast? And I said because cnn is played in airports that Why? Because you are you are a few standard deviations away from the mean, Eric, most people in airports, look at that and goes, That’s the truth. And when the managing editor I can’t recall his exact title Managing Director of field operations, Patrick Davis sits in that bar. This is filmed last last year and says, I hate what we’ve become, is what Patrick Davis says on the hidden camera, we could be so much better than we are. That’s a direct quote. I don’t even listen to the CEO, or the president his calls anymore. I’m disgusted by it. It’s what he’s saying. And I have to make an evaluation. A means ends evaluation on do I blur this man’s face? And I say no. Why? Because, in my view, in a world where the media is more powerful than all three branches of the government of the United States, which we can talk about that if you disagree with me, I have an obligation to tell the people about what this man who basically controls all the stuff happening on CNN, right? We are leaves. Okay,
Eric Weinstein 43:01
okay. And I’m
James O’Keefe 43:02
not even look. I’m just passionate. That’s why I’m not you know, arguing with you. I’m just passionate and I firmly believe that brother You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Eric Weinstein 43:10
Go ahead. No, I’m, I’m a match your passion for passion. Okay. Yeah, my concern is is that you’re actually so the way I view it is you’re an alternate David throwing stones at the same Goliath. And you’re pissing me off at some level. And the reason you’re pissing me off is probably complicated, which is why these interchanges they never happen and it’s great thing to do it. If I look at what happened for example, with the Amy robot tape, do you want to say a little bit about how you see that and then I’ll come back to it and say how I see it as being significant
James O’Keefe 43:45
how I see it in just in general just
Eric Weinstein 43:47
that you you broadcast it to the world. And I think it’s an incredible, incredibly important and interesting okay use of footage and, but
James O’Keefe 43:57
our listeners may not be aware of any real Was this. This is back in November of last year. We had an insider within abc news. record this hot mic moment where Amy Robach is the anchor on Good Morning America. And she comes across very credible on this tape. She’s She’s very attractive blonde female anchor and she’s bemoaning how ABC squashed spiked the Jeffrey Epstein story. They had victims. They had all this evidence. And she’s really upset that she didn’t get the scoop. And she says that they she she testifies. This is a hot mic moment between like during the commercial break that it was to protect the Clintons and the British royal family. So this was I’ve been doing this for 11 years in a really major way. This is by far the most viral piece of this is like a 92nd piece of film. And it was like the most viral thing I’d ever seen. It was it was. It was an indictment to so many of what we’re talking about here today.
Eric Weinstein 44:56
I’m like holding back emotion. It was so powerful. Right. It’s like, okay, now I it took me six months to get up the courage to say I wonder why it is almost no news outfit will ask the question is Jeffrey Epstein known to the intelligence communities of the world? And is pedophilia known? And did we sit idly by while 12 year old girls and upward or down? I don’t even know we’re being trafficked in the most powerful circles in the world? I mean, is somebody going to ask the questions where his fortune came from and where the trading records were, that I’m trying to map the silences of the news media I’m much more interested in what they don’t say don’t report don’t do and this thing that I’m calling the disk distributed idea suppression complex is perfectly illustrated by Amy Robach. And you so far as I know, simply broadcast the video in an unedited form that was leaked to you.
James O’Keefe 45:52
something to that effect, we haven’t we have this insider program. He’s it’s actually quite extraordinary thing if I could mention it for a minute. We have these people in Inside of these institutions who you know, they do have, you know, confidentiality agreements with their employers, etc, etc. But what’s remarkable is they might strap a camera to their chest or simply record and give that to us. And in some cases, Eric, these insiders, go public and and go on the record sit down and become a hero or a martyr, in this case is a rare exception where this person is still working there and Disney Corporation, you know, quarantined every employee and grilled them for hours and they still have not been able to identify this person. So this was recorded and it was a remarkable moment. It was it was on the same type of standards with Amy romac did not know Yeah.
She knew and so far she was wearing a lav mic, you know,
Eric Weinstein 46:47
it’s an incredible it’s incredible piece of footage. And then if I recall correctly, yeah, she comes back and sort of almost a lobotomized fashion apologizing for what she said. Yeah.
James O’Keefe 47:00
This what happened was, again I’m speculating here but I’m pretty safely speculating abc news actually don’t spec you don’t need to ABC News issues a statement. And the statement is you know that at the time not all of our standards met our reporting for air was very robotic, you know corporate statement justifying why they did I regret that some of the intemperate things that I may have said in a moment of frustration, were picked up in frustration. What are not words? Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 47:29
I don’t know that she used that. She did. It was actually
James O’Keefe 47:31
it was actually quite literally, quote, moment of frustration. I didn’t I didn’t know
there was a misstatement and there was abc news this day, whatever it is, it’s,
Eric Weinstein 47:39
it’s frickin scary. Yeah. Right. Because the idea is that you’re seeing, it’s like somebody’s recounting their testimony Exactly. In North Korea, and you know that there’s like a gun held to the person’s head or you’re watching a hostage video or something like that. Okay, now, here’s my problem, and I really want you to take the time to play this Through with me. I watched what happened when that debuted with Project Veritas stamped on it. And in my circles, what what God said, and this is a trap. And again, it’s not you’re not responsible for it, but we both have to agree with the game. The game is, is that anything that comes through James O’Keefe, and anything that comes through Project Veritas cannot be trusted, right? That’s what they’ve done. They fit they fitted you with a shit suit. And your shit suit is you are so psychopathic, so non reliable, that even what appears to be continuous unedited footage can be completely discounted, if it appears is Project Veritas.
James O’Keefe 48:41
And that has not stopped us. Well,
Eric Weinstein 48:43
not only has it not stopped you, it creates a really interesting dilemma. First of all, that tactic that is being used against you is manifestly stupid and unethical.
James O’Keefe 48:56
And I got nothing I can do about it. No, no, you’re jumping ahead.
Eric Weinstein 49:01
I don’t agree with this, James. I think that the the problem is that this is at such a level of complexity, whatever the ABC News function is that stop that stop that story from running that might have saved people from having terrible incidents in their lives, I don’t know, whatever that thing was, is my enemy. That’s the disk. And we have to slip the disk in order to save our society. That’s basically my take. I also agree that you’ve been fitted with this thing so that if you’re handed a piece of footage, and you run it, and it is appropriate for you to run it, that that footage immediately becomes inadmissible in what I’ve called the gated institutional narrative, which is the Washington Post discussing the New York Times about whatever the Democratic Party said, in their engagement at Princeton University, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, yes, that thing is trying to seal itself off from the internet. So the idea is that there are authoritative sources and then there’s the garbage that happens. Online. Yep. Which is ridiculous. I don’t think you’re helping break this thing open, because what you’re doing is an in essence, there’s this weak point in the crust, and there’s this magma, of truth underneath it. And they’ve decided, Okay, anything that breaks through it Project Veritas is immediately and admissible. And it’s very important that I be able to defend something that occurs at your outlet, okay. And you’re not helping me because of the level at which you’re playing the game. And so maybe that’s partially my frustration. I don’t believe that you that that’s a deep fake interview. I believe that that’s a real hot mic. I believe that it’s leaked. I believe that you probably have lawyers who went all over it and said it was legal for you to use it. I bet that you probably even do something that regular journalists don’t do, which is check the journalists code of ethics, right. And so all of this positive stuff that you’re doing is then sacrifice In part, in my opinion, because of certain kinds of super aggressive self justifying tactics, which is what’s really pissing me off?
James O’Keefe 51:11
I’d like to, yeah. And it’s your show too. If I go into the wrong direction, just steer me back. No. And if I if
Eric Weinstein 51:17
I’m overboard and not getting something you and I know,
James O’Keefe 51:20
this is a very important point. And we have some disagreements about this because the end let me start with the conclusion. It hasn’t stopped us. And there’s no other way to slip the disc. There’s no other way then to anyone who have anyone if I didn’t invent or Create Project Veritas and some other person did they do the same thing that person no matter who it would be, they would slime and slander and defame. However, what’s interesting about the Amy Robach tape and the David Wright tape, both of which came with an ABC news is that the president of ABC News did in fact return my phone call the day before I called them for comment. I did the ethical thing, I bet. And they did, in fact issue a response. And that response did in fact make it into the Washington Post. In fact, the Washington Post ran three articles on the same day. We were in fact, one on the front page of the style section. This was a couple weeks ago, where they said reporters suspended over and had to put the quotes from David Wright bemoaning the fact that his corporate bosses this and that the stuff that your audience all agrees that’s in the printed edition on the front page of the style section, thanks to Project Veritas. Now, here’s the rub, as Shakespeare would say, that insider when I met that person, I’m not going to tell you their gender. I’m not going to tell you anything about them, except this. When I met that person in a hotel room, it was like a scene out of all the President’s Men like literally out of the thriller novel, and they were having this unbelievable conversation which if there was any justice in the world, there’d be a movie made out of this one day. This person says I had nowhere to go III couldn’t go to one go host. I couldn’t go to the new york times he, she, they were like, I can’t go anywhere because and I’m going to quote them here. They’d hunt me down like a trophy buck. Not only would they not tell this story, my story, they would systematically This is what you were saying, hunt me down. And he and this person said I had to go someplace, just let me finish what he said he had to go someplace that I knew no matter what this person wouldn’t give me up, wouldn’t quit, wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t settle lawsuits, which is this thing we should talk about in this episode. And there was only one institution in the world. I could think that would do that. Project Veritas. Now, where we were where I think you’re mistaken. I feel as though you’re mistaken is they attack us slime us and call us liars. But they have to put on the front page of the style section, The Washington Post.
Eric Weinstein 53:56
Yes. So this is I mean, this is exactly where I want to be. The conversation you’re never going to get anywhere, right? Okay. So what we know what this is we call it Fudd. fear, uncertainty and doubt, right? The idea is that we have to create fear, uncertainty and doubt around you. But because that there was no way of just pretending that video didn’t exist, it had to enter the Djinn. Get it institutional narrative. I accept your point. Now, I want you just to listen to something which is very tough for me to say. Consider that heroism and sociopathy are adjacent. Right? A friend of ours,
Unknown Speaker 54:35
Eric Weinstein 54:39
named Andrea, I’m just blanking on her Polish last name for the moment, has a theory called extreme altruism. And her point is, is that an altruist and this hero in a sociopath are one toggle switch off of each other? And the key question is when you have this kind of need to shake things up, is it done for the self or is it done for the greater Good. And I detect that you actually have a commitment to this that is at a level that is somewhere between heroism and sociopathy To be blunt. Now, I get it. There are no super tough people who don’t crack, don’t fall, have their own organization are willing to fight in the courts. And this is in part what you’re doing. And you know what? Let’s talk about another story you covered which I was brought in before that I believe you were brought in, which was a Google Insider. Now, what can we use that person’s name? Yes,
Unknown Speaker 55:40
let’s do it. Zach Vorhees.
Eric Weinstein 55:42
Okay, so Zach Vorhees was talking to me about all the stuff that was going on at Google. And he showed me things like screenshots and programs about ml fairness, machine learning fairness, and how Google was going to bias. Search by unbiased Sing it, you know that he didn’t say those words, but that was my encapsulation. And I did not know how to help him directly. And what you’re saying is true in a world in which no one will cover the goddamn story. You’re looking for the outlet that will and that’s what happens repeatedly. It’s not just with you, Fox News, Breitbart, you will cover stories that go counter narrative to this mainstream left of center tradition, or narrative, right. And so, for example, as you know, when my brother was driven out of his college where he was a professor by racist students calling his anti racism racism, that was so completely bizarre for something like the mainstream media that you had, effectively, a black led Maoist uprising with a white sort of ultra woke president against an anti racist, behaving in an anti racist fashion being called a racist. That story was so destructive to woke ideology that the New York Times couldn’t cover it. And so my brother ended up were at Fox News with Tucker Carlson. So once you understand that there’s sort of this weird rule, which is, if all of us pretend that that thing isn’t happening, then the idea is no one has to cover it. No one has to discuss what it is. And the only places that it appears are right of center. And then each of these right right of center week innings in the crust, think of the crust as the disk, right? You have a narrative, which is everything on fox news is bullshit. Everything that Breitbart prints is crap, everything that comes out of Project Veritas is a is unfairly edited and is an unethical piece. So let’s read okay. You’re not helping When you go into your self justification mode about, well, we have to do this. I mean, you may have to do this but you what you first have to do is to exhaust all the things that both serve the ends of informing the public where they need to be informed, and minimizing the damage to humans, unless those humans really deserve the damage. So let me just try to get it. My contention is anytime you move private life into the public sector, it appears bizarre and is incredibly damaging. We are supposed to appear here as if we always put on sport jackets and button down shirts, let’s say and conduct ourselves, you know, in this kind of weird, mannered interaction, which is in some sense for us now, for example, I love fart jokes. Just love them.
James O’Keefe 58:52
Do you like fart jokes? I’m not too familiar with the fart jokes.
Eric Weinstein 58:55
Well, for example, there’s a fantastic really long limit called the farter from Part of May I say the face? Yeah, that once was a fellow from Sparta a truly magnificent photo on the strength of one being he blow God Save the Queen and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. And it goes on and on. Like that, right? It’s really quite good. Now, the problem is, is that when I talk about fart jokes in public, it’s like, wow, Eric, you’re doing potty humor. Nice, classy, stay classy. Anytime I move private life into the public sector, it’s destructive. And that’s why it’s not just about the written rules. It’s also you know, we talked about in Judaism, the Written Torah, and we talked about the Oral Torah. And I believe that your lawyers know what the rules are for recording conversations in public places, semi public places, whether the door is open, closed, one sided or two sided consent, blah, blah, blah. And the idea is it varies from state to state and the average person, their idea of these rules is zero. They’re completely ignorant of the law. So the key Question is, don’t we, as Americans have an Oral Torah, an idea of what one shouldn’t be doing. That goes along with the written rule. And you tend to get alerted to this, when somebody says something is perfectly legal. That’s the phrase that alerts you to the fact that they’re usually violating the Oral Torah, rather than the written tour is that they say perfectly legal rather than merely legal. And I’m concerned that what you’re doing is perfectly legal, and overkill with respect to the individuals and it’s killing your ability to actually stick it to the institutions who need to be policed and that you’re set up to police.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:36
James O’Keefe 1:00:38
Oh, boy. First of all, no, gotcha here, but it’s no, it’s a lot. It would be what as you’re speaking there, were about seven points I wanted to address there, but let me try to take it from the top. Okay. You know, I was reading a book, I think it was about images and the marshal hope I pronounce his last name wrong as Marshall McLuhan. medium is the message, you know that book and, you know, the way that the medium changes how we perceive the world around us, it actually changes how we think it does. And I, I maybe this is self justification. But I truly believe that this medium, you know, like McLuhan’s sense of what we do, which is transmitting these little hidden shaky videos on a tweet and it gets 10 million views in an hour. That changes the way we perceive the world around us and it affects our understanding of each other and, to quote, Scott McNealy, like we’ve lost our privacy already that this is a new world, maybe a brave new world. And when they invented the the the Telegraph, I think there was a criticism, this is an 18 minute, mid 19th century, that there was a criticism that well, what is Maine and Texas have to talk to each other about anyway. And when they invented that when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, it was like, well, that’s kind of an invasion of privacy, you know, transparent heaps. jelly to one another was a characterization that was made about the telephone at the time, you couldn’t cut a man off by gesture or look when you’re talking to him on the telephone. So now we have this new paradigm where you or I could be recorded in the bar saying, see you and T to a friend in a very in a context that’s that we think is private. And that can be broadcasted instantly. And then we have this cancer, cancel culture phenomenon. And who wants to live in that world? two things. First of all, there’s a difference between recording something and broadcasting it. And I would say this, this Oral Torah metaphor that you there’s Oral Torah that us, we draw the line at the choice to broadcast the information, I can’t tell you, on my server, how raw tape I have, where someone said something that was very private, I’m not going to tell you where or who. But there was an example where someone at a bar said, Come up to my hotel room and engage in some of nausea tois. I didn’t publish that. That’s pig’s blood. It’s my duty as a citizen It’s my obligation not to publish because it wasn’t newsworthy wasn’t, it wasn’t newsworthy. It’s a it’s a private sort of the private sexual nature of people where there was probably some infidelity. But that’s not what we do. We try to focus on areas of profound public importance. Now I also tell you that when Upton Sinclair Yeah, wrote the jungle, there were no, you know, hidden cameras. Upton Sinclair was it was extreme ideologues as far as I’m concerned. He was a socialist and he cared about worker participation. He I don’t think he set out to expose the meat conditions he wanted to social, you know, is an advocate for socialism. When he infiltrated, went undercover, posing with a lunch pail and taking off his tie to fit in with the workers. He He didn’t even have a I don’t even believe he had a writing utensil. I think he sprinted back to his hotel room to write down from memory what he saw. So we would make the argument that the room cording, the recording itself is distinguished from the broadcasting of the recording. And that recording someone has a fundamental human right, just like writing down what they say, is the fundamental human right and to restrict someone from saying what they hear. It goes back to my argument of the first amendment that we live in a world that that we, we live in a world where we capture people audio visually, this is a new paradigm. Now I was listening to George Carlin on a comedy show recently, and he was given a sketch and he said, We live in a new world, Earth plus plastic. We live in a new paradigm, Earth plus people at bars being recorded and that being put on Twitter instantaneously. And just like the invention of the telephone, the invention of the telegraph or the invention of the automobile, it’ll it’ll remake how we view our world. But there are safeguards against privacy. privacy issues existed before the advent of technology. You can you can choose where you go and what You say to people, false friends existed before the advent of technology betraying people existed before the, you know, and in most cases, it’s not in your self interest to betray a close friend or confidant. So I don’t think and I really strongly believe that what we do is moral for getting the legal it we can talk about the law, but forget the law and you realize that I understand the argument that sometimes what’s your honor thing is of such consequence, that it would be immoral to hold it back wholesale. But it is also the question, I mean, I’ll be honest about it. I feel like you get a kind of pleasure.
Eric Weinstein 1:05:38
You and I are both feeling guestlist is my
James O’Keefe 1:05:42
new you feel like I get a pleasure out of out of out of out of what
Eric Weinstein 1:05:47
I’m worried that you get a pleasure out of sticking it to the sanctimonious, elitist, progressive thing that suffuses you Absolutely, I’m just trying to make it easy for you to understand where I’m coming from, which is I can’t stand what the left has become. It’s unrecognizable to me. It’s not. It’s not a force that seems to want to fight for working families. It doesn’t really seem to care about the environment. Like, you know, the Sierra Club used to be against immigration. It’s sanctimonious, it’s pure, constant, sanctimonious sanctimony in the service of institutions. So the idea is that I see this kind of We Are the World not as this beautiful song and sentiment, but as the cover story for breaking your bonds to your fellow countrymen so that you can go seek cheap labor overseas or something like that. The Davos crowd if you will, betrayed the left and the right who’s always found the left to be irritating This is a part of the left on this show that can’t stand the part of the left that you that you may be targeting. That said, I have to stay my hand because I don’t want to engage in the kind of crap that they do. And I feel like yours in some sense doubling down on their methods.
James O’Keefe 1:07:19
I disagree. I think that investigative reporting, you know, going back to the 1960s and 70s, and I’m not an expert on this, but I know some these people did some things that were maybe maybe we are you disagree with their tactics, but I mean, you had let me give you a few examples. You had, you know, going to Waldorf was an extremist. He he literally used disguises and infiltrated newspapers to show how the news colored things you had the Chicago Sun Times ran this undercover operation where they purchased a bar in Chicago. Actually, let’s
Eric Weinstein 1:07:53
frame this because I think this is really important. Yes, you and I both have the sense that journalism used to be very different. And much closer to the methods that you’re using. Is that true?
James O’Keefe 1:08:03
I would say even further so than the methods I use, but
Eric Weinstein 1:08:06
yes, but but your methods were are closer to an older style of journalists. Yes. So I also have this impression.
James O’Keefe 1:08:12
Yes. And you’ve said this. Okay. So
Eric Weinstein 1:08:14
what I was asked, yeah, what I had to ask you on the phone when we spoke is can you frame for us a timeline? Yeah. Of what changed that relationship between journalists and this kind of aggressive style of investigative reporting, which you at least partially exhibit in project
James O’Keefe 1:08:31
that’s an economics question as well, which we can reach. Well, I’ll try to get to. But investigative reporters back in the day, there were newspapers, and they were typewriter guerrillas, as they were called. I call myself a guerrilla journalist. I use video as my medium. But these guys did things like there was a guy named William Gaines, who dressed up like a janitor in 19, mid early 70s 1972 1973 and got a job at a hospital he literally employed himself as a janitor. And the surgeons would say, hey come Can you come assist me with surgery and without even washing his hands he was asked to participate in doing surgery on somebody. Oh, and also he won the Pulitzer Prize. So the i would i would never do that. I would never can you imagine James O’Keefe gets a job as a janitor assistant in in fixing someone with the Coronavirus I would be I would be dead bacteria on my hands would get inside wasn’t Gloria Steinem of Playboy Bunny, Gloria Steinem was a Playboy Bunny. But you had these reporters Clark Clark manof, at the Iowa newspaper you had you know, Bob Woodward lied deep throat. JACK Anderson in the 1970s. And all of these people were hated. I mean, hated by the system while they were doing right. They were they were despised. They were they were attacked by the establishment media and then something changed and what we were talking on the phone
Eric Weinstein 1:09:56
was what I think changed. Well, there was this old line about what are the 10 most feared words in corporate America mike wallace from 60 minutes is here to see you.
James O’Keefe 1:10:04
Yeah, yeah. So Mike Wallace used to ambush people and boardrooms. And and and and then something happened in the late 70s. I trace it to this incident. I wrote this book called American profit and I researched the 1970s journalism. And what happened, what I saw was that in 1977, the Chicago Sun Times, which was the center of all this muckraking newspaper reporting, ran this bar for like seven months, they bought a bar under a under disguise. And it was bartended by newspaper people. And they put cameras in the in the in the rafters of this bar, aptly named the Mirage they actually called the thing the Mirage is kind of ironic. And they filmed all of the city inspectors taking bribes, bribing each other, you know, payoffs. And asked Pam zachman was working at the at the Chicago Sun time Pulitzer Prize winner. They were asked why did you have to resort to all this so called deception, they said, because nobody, everyone was afraid of Chicago City Hall, none of these people would talk not even on background, not even off the record. So they ran this bar. And I mean, this was like the most consequential in my opinion investigation of the 20th century, like 50 people went to jail. The mayor lost reelection. It was just such a consequential, impactful thing. So it gets nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1978. And Ben Bradley, who is the legendary editor of The Washington Post says, No, we’re not going to give you a Pulitzer Prize because your deception was too elaborate. Your deception was too much. And I think the quote was, you know, when when when cops pose as journalists, we don’t like that. So we shouldn’t pose is something that we’re not. And that was the one of the few inflection points in American history, because there was no, there was no there was no currency. In doing this. It was expensive. First of all, which I can talk about how expensive this stuff is. And then you had mike wallace in the mid 80s, Mike Wallace 60 minutes said, it became about drama, not illumination. I think that both Ben Bradley and Mike Wallace, were were disingenuous, I don’t think that was the real reason they stopped doing it. I think that argument which is one we can have today relates more to economics of mass media. And Ben Bradley probably was a little close to people in the Chicago machine. And and you know, Bradley reportedly, these are not my sources, had contracts with people in government and so forth and so on. And it became this mass media became had a symbiotic relationship with with those in power. And using these tactics is just too close for comfort. You’re, you’re burning these institutions, agencies and things that you need access to, to get your information from. So it got caught off in the 70s and 80s. And finally, ABC News in 1992 got sued by a grocery store Food Lion, but a chain of chain is called Food Lion grocery. Again they got off they got jobs working in the butcher shop and they recorded it put hidden cameras in their wig. Like you might be able to fit a camera in that in that hairdo of yours. And they
Eric Weinstein 1:13:21
had wigs I grew up this way like
James O’Keefe 1:13:23
tiny little thing. And and they filmed the meat was rotting and they repackage the meat. So this was this was like bleach or some bleach. The meat was rotting. It was devastating expos a Food Lion stock tanked. They got sued ABC did they lost at trial, they won on appeal. It cost God knows over a million dollars. And ABCs bass brass basically said To hell with this. We’re not going to spend a million dollars. There’s nothing in it for us. So investigative reporting was not profitable. It was not profitable. It wouldn’t get you the Pulitzer surprises wouldn’t get in the
Eric Weinstein 1:14:01
way I want. I want to do your point even more than you’re doing Sure. People are gonna hear that like, Oh, is that why you’re doing reporting to get appealed? Surprised? That’s not the point. No, no, no, no. Hey, let me do it. Let me do it. Okay. My belief is that the Pulitzer Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, to say nothing of worth appeal to fortune came from was intended to say this is heroic behavior. This is admirable behavior. And when you took away the prize, it was the community saying we no longer want to see this as heroic. Yeah. And that that message rather than the prize is the chill.
Unknown Speaker 1:14:45
And it’s one of the reasons.
Eric Weinstein 1:14:47
Well, to your point about the growing links between the journalistic community and the institutions they cover. Those links were not accepted. And earlier, in fact, there were some, you know, I asked you to look at the story of Jean Sieberg, a woman destroyed by the FBI using the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek, as their conduits for a smear campaign against one of the leading actresses of Hollywood because they didn’t like our politics. So there have been very chilling threads between our media and the institutions of power, in fact, the cryptic institutions of power. What I don’t understand
James O’Keefe 1:15:36
is given that those things existed before something had to change, environmentally, for this type of reporting to all but disappear over a period of perhaps 20 years. And that’s economics. A lot of it in my opinion, investigative reporting was a lost leader on a company’s balance sheet. So in those days, there was kind of a Well, newspapers were certainly more profitable than they are now. And David Wright, on the ABC tape Put it this, he said it changed in the digital era when it became even more commercially. He says the commercial commercial imperative is incompatible with the news. And I get branded as some right wing guy, and it’s like, well, actually, that’s a Chomsky argument from manufacturing a lot.
Eric Weinstein 1:16:20
Let’s be honest, a lot of my friends on the right, spend a lot of time quoting Marx Chomsky, mean, there’s a lot of commonalities
James O’Keefe 1:16:29
there is there is that and I agree with that statement. So the commercial imperative is incompatible with the new set. David, right. He was suspended by ABC News for saying it. And investigative reporters. Like I’m gonna give you my economics of what I do. I’m a charitable organization. I’m a 501 c three organization and let you Project Veritas. We, you were you were a huge part of prime the chairman and CEO of the company and I had to be the chairman, to have the authority to make decisions like not to settle lawsuits You know, 60 minutes got sued over 150 times the 1980s 100. Maybe even more than that. All of the reporters I mentioned earlier, the 1970s were I mean, some of them went to jail. To protect their sources. They were sued for libel. Yeah, investigative reporters had to deal with all that stuff. And to your point in this age, I’m vilified for having to deal with all that stuff back in the day was considered to be a thing. So you’d go to jail for your source 100% and into jail. I’ve been to jail. We’ve talked about that. But not only would not only does the reporter have to be willing to go to jail, the reporter has to be willing to appeal it all the way up to the Supreme Court. And if the supreme court determines that you have to disclose your source, the reporter has to be civil disobedience. Yeah, that’s what you have to believe in in your heart to do this. Most of the people in the news business these days you kidding me? They’re just trying to get to retirement. They’re just trying to get across the finish line, get their pension and be done with
Eric Weinstein 1:17:58
it. What makes you such a difficult character is, is that you have so many of the most admirable features of journalism.
Unknown Speaker 1:18:08
Eric Weinstein 1:18:10
I don’t think you get to have the conversation where somebody who really is troubled by what you do, also acknowledges the positive in what you do. You to me are a superposition of what is noble about journalism and why I can’t stand journalism.
James O’Keefe 1:18:33
That may be so I think in light of the recent x, y Z’s though, Eric, there have been a couple reporters Paul Faria, The Washington Post, a guy named Grove at The Daily Beast have actually talked to me. I’ve never actually endured, frankly, just this Manifest Destiny. I’m sitting with you here. He wouldn’t be sitting with me, but not for the events of the last six months. But why is it? I’ve been aware of you for a long time. Well, I think because I think we Because of the, the that I’m then continuing to do this that I’m getting in Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m getting reactions from these institutions that they’re the worst.
Eric Weinstein 1:19:08
You’ve been an interesting person to me for a long okay.
James O’Keefe 1:19:11
I did not know that. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 1:19:13
So, by the way, I should just say people will assume that you and I are connected somehow through Peter teal. And completely untrue. I don’t know. I just had my first conversation with Peter about you ever.
James O’Keefe 1:19:26
The New York Times when a front page story association between Peter teal and the and the substance will be it’s unclear exactly what relationship and then they’ll run that and do that whole thing. But so the economics have asked me this is a very important point. You know, one of the reporters I researched in Providence when I wrote this book prompted was that bosses have to have they said bosses with balls, right? You have to have an editor or someone that works for you. That has conus that has principle and this is a unisex because it works for both What is it? What is it huevos lambos huevos, you have to have huevos and Back in the day, there were bosses with balls. And it is in these days with David Wright says is, this is so ironic David Wright actually says at the bar, my bosses don’t care about this stuff. So that’s is that integrity is that lack of morality. And then you have the economics of mass media. It costs my, my organization or our organization because it’s a nonprofit Project Veritas over $1 million to do a story. And sometimes it will cost us as much as three quarters of a million dollars to fight a lawsuit. I do not settle lawsuits, Eric. In fact, we’ve won eight straight lawsuits you have settled us. I have not ever lost a defamation lawsuit. I’ve never settled defamation lawsuit. 11 years ago, I was sued for invasion of privacy in California, and I settled one and I made a mistake and I’ll never make that mistake again. So I appreciate the distinction. But you have settled
Eric Weinstein 1:20:53
just one important distinction. Every time you say something that isn’t, they’re gonna they’re gonna they’re gonna Play the game and I’m not again. I am not trying to destroy you. I’m not trying to build you up. I’m trying to get you a fair hearing. Yeah,
James O’Keefe 1:21:08
let me be clear. We’ve never lost a defamation lawsuit. We’ve never settled a defamation lawsuit. And 11 years ago, I was sued for invasion of privacy for recording a guy in a room with the door open in California. This guy was coaching me on how to get girls across the Tijuana border. He claimed later he would claim he was playing along but I did not defame him by quoting him. And I was sued for invasion of privacy. I fought it and I didn’t have any money. So I settled, so we don’t settle lawsuits anymore. We’ve won every lawsuit we’ve laid out the way I also
Eric Weinstein 1:21:38
I just want to be very clear that there are all sorts of situations where people settle when they’re in the right because of the economics of the legal profession.
James O’Keefe 1:21:47
They’re held to a different standard than me, right. So totally understand subtlety. And your audience knows this. CNN settled the Covington lawsuit for they were sued for 250 million people settle lawsuits all the time. But my point is this
Eric Weinstein 1:22:00
That you have to say, I don’t think you should be held to the standard of never settling as the, if you can meet it, you want to know something very interesting,
Unknown Speaker 1:22:08
James O’Keefe 1:22:11
A lot of the insiders, one of the reasons they came to us other than the fact that they The Washington Post in New York time he said that he’s one of them said to me the fact that you didn’t settle that lawsuit, the fact that you stood by your reporting, the fact that you would stand on principle at great economic cost, my staff has to scuttle around the country on airplanes to meet with these people and ask them for money. And and it pains me to have to spend three quarters of a million dollars. little old lady in North Carolina, you know, sues me for defamation. I did not defame or I quoted her accurately. I know the law and the facts are on my side. And the arbitrator or the the person in the middle goes well, I just give Lady $25,000 called a day and I have to spend three quarters of a million dollars
Eric Weinstein 1:22:58
to it’s like, I understand your problem, you know, I understand you break my fucking heart, you really do because you do stuff that is unnecessary, that causes harm to the effort to illuminate what it is that you’re trying to I don’t have your politic
James O’Keefe 1:23:14
argument. I said you’re making a very interesting argument i do think. Let me see if I can restate what you’re saying. I do things that hurt my argument. But you like you like the, the effects of it or you like the truth.
Eric Weinstein 1:23:32
I like the I perceive and I could be wrong about this. You’re a very unusual person. You are driven by something which is not money. There are easier ways to turn a buck than what you’re doing. Right. You were driven by, I think, could be wrong, in part, an ideological need to get it certain things that are going unreported anywhere. In essence, there are tiny number of places that can break a story, like the stories that you’re breaking.
Unknown Speaker 1:24:05
Eric Weinstein 1:24:07
I want to be able to wholeheartedly say, did you see that thing that occurred? And when I see Project Veritas, I say, okay, beyond that I already know that the big boys are playing unfairly with you. Right? So it’s not like I’m saying that everything that they’re doing is fair to you. But you do things that are unnecessary that tarnish what it is that you can bring to the world you’re not on the efficient frontier. And this is my irritation and my anger with you. Okay, this is that you got cheap stuff in there. When you’re supposed to be istat, reestablishing investigative journalism like
James O’Keefe 1:24:47
what what what’s the give me some example? I think that is,
Eric Weinstein 1:24:51
I think that you could do a tremendous amount to let people know we’ve got the fucking goods on you. When you say cheap
James O’Keefe 1:24:57
stuff. Just give me an example recently. And even the last day when you’ve got
Eric Weinstein 1:25:02
a camera and a purse or whatever, and something feels to me, like you’re on the verge of entrapment, or you’re making one of those technical arguments, ignorance of the law is no excuse. We, you know, we looked it up and we were perfectly within our wedding, that kind of stuff occurs and you’re in costume. And I’m thinking like, okay, was the purse, the poor sob who happens to be employed in this way in his, you know, speaking with bravado, maybe the idea is like, the standard reporter techniques of buttering people up. I hate those, when that comes from the New York Times. I’ve been through that mill. Yeah, okay. Yeah. I don’t like the behavior pattern. And my feeling about it is is that ethics, clearer ethics are a peacocks tail. In other words, if you have if you have the ability and the skill, you get to have the ethics, if you’re this close to the line, it’s because you haven’t gotten yourself together. Now I’m trying to do some of what you’re trying to do. I released an episode recently talking about whether or not laboratory mice are broken for the purposes of all sorts of science, which may include drug testing. And I, I did not go for the jugular, it was very pointed. But I invited the person who’s most associated with the story on to the story after the fact I’ve tried not to speak much in public giving them a very long time to figure out how they wanted to respond. Right, right. And I intend to close the story out. But I am struggling with the ethics. And my concern is, is that I want to watch you Rive in pain as you struggle with the ethics of what you do. I understand the argument here unearthing things that really matter.
James O’Keefe 1:26:54
Well, I could I mean, I’ve, what’s that line from the Shawshank Redemption, whatever sins, I’ve come in it paid for them and then some I’ve been. I mean, God My story is in other deal I’ve been on probation for three years federal probation supervised, I’ve been charged with crimes I haven’t committed. I’ve been sued, depose dozens of times I’ve, I’ve laid my soul bare under oath and depositions where they have all my emails. And like Chesterton says, you know, the thing about bathing in hot water is that it keeps you going. These are twin problems, and you’re not getting away with it lying to me just very carefully.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:26
Those things may make you heroic, they may be incredibly
James O’Keefe 1:27:28
none listening and listening.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:31
They may make you heroic, they may be incredibly painful. But all of that stuff speaks potentially to courage and nobility to being the righteous man in an unjust world. That’s not what I’m talking about. James,
James O’Keefe 1:27:45
let me see if I can address your the fundamental issue here. of the purse cam or the button cam or the lapel camera, or the end what it represents,
Eric Weinstein 1:27:55
what it represented represent
James O’Keefe 1:27:57
what whether I ride in consternation I guess the easiest way I can explain it in a very
personal way is that when I was in college,
I went to Rutgers. I’m 35 years old. So when I was 20 years old, on St. Patrick’s Day, which I believe is this is it either today or tomorrow we’re around St. Patrick’s Day filming here. I was surrounded by professors telling me how great Stalin was. And I’m like, Well, I’m not really a history buff, but that seems odd. You know, shouldn’t we also talk about the gulags and again, I’m not I wasn’t a very show trials. And so I wasn’t, I wasn’t learned about style. I just said, well, that’s odd. And I’d read the New York Times every day because I just like to read the New York Times. I said, Well, that’s odd. They seem to be using obfuscation in there. And I felt compelled to wear a hidden camera and go into my dining hall to try to prove a point and I tried to get lucky charms banned on the grounds they were racist to my Irish heritage. It was a little stunt like it was a little bore at like, it remains people’s favorite video. I’m getting to a point here. And that what I’m going to show you what I realized in doing this was that I had to hold these people to their own expressed values. Because they don’t it’s really hard to shame these people. Yeah. And we can be shamed because you believe in morality, you believe in probably some sense of law, and there should be equality before the law, you believe in all these principles. And the people that I’m dealing with are just irrational. They’re just like, Stalin’s great, you should love him. And I’m like, Well, I’m paying money to come to school here to learn about philosophy. You’re telling me how great the Soviet Union is that that’s just unjust. So when the premise is that these people and Rutgers University, the student handbooks that you’re not allowed to offend anybody for any reason, I said, well, that’s that doesn’t make any sense that that’s irrational. I know. So to confront the irrationality, to hold them accountable to their own expressed values or as elinsky would say, They make them live up to their own principles. I went in there, I was very scared. I was shaking. I was worried and it doesn’t come natural to do these sorts of things. And I donned a little Kodak camera this is before the iPhone 2005 and I put it on the table and put a little cloth over the red lens because in 2005 cameras would blink red when you recorded video. And I began to do to to to pretend to be something I wasn’t. I said, me I am Irish, but I’m not offended by Lucky Charms and I said as an Irishman this cereal offends me the mascot offends my heritage owned by the way, it’s a violation of your own campus rulebook about offending people. And the Dean of Dining Services took me seriously. And the Dean of Dining Services said there will be no problem removing Lucky Charms from the cafeteria. What we did is a microcosm of another magically delicious even though they’re magically delicious. I even said the marshmallows were teeth rotting. I said that I’m six foot one Irishman which I am O’Keefe is my last name and i said i this offends my heritage and I tried to keep a straight face was very difficult and even though I was shaking because I was afraid of what I was doing, and what we did is offer the community Rutgers University which is far left an opportunity to go That’s ridiculous. We we slipped the disc we we show it we and and what you’re saying is I’m doing the thing that you don’t that they did the Jordan Peterson what you’re saying is, you’re saying is what what the argument is, is that I should feel more
unclean, I should
Eric Weinstein 1:31:40
No, no, no, no, no, help me understand. The argument is that what you’re doing is you’re you’re balancing harm that you have to inflict with good that you have to do and I don’t think you’re efficient on either one and in some Since you’re screwing up stories for everybody else, because they don’t have and this is like, it’s a complicated point, and I don’t
James O’Keefe 1:32:07
think I want to understand it. Okay,
Eric Weinstein 1:32:08
I’m trying to my belief is is that like the the Zach Vorhees story about the Google insider and what was actually going on at Google isn’t a really important story. And anything if I took a terrible, terrible important story, and I put Project Veritas on it right now I know that it won’t have the impact that it would have if we could somehow force it into the world in a different disagree with you, but I completely disagree with you I
James O’Keefe 1:32:35
strongly strongly disagree strongly mind on but last make sure that we actually do disagree that we’re not having a miscommunication. I’m not sure but that statement you’re making Zack for he says documents. Zack, you know, had come to me, you know, come to us some years ago, we had to send a report or talk to jen jenai, who was an innovation person for Google. She was of Irish heritage, and we we filmed her in a in a In a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, saying that she wanted to prevent the quote Trump situation. And there was some ambiguity about what exactly she meant by that. Did she mean stop Trump from winning the election? Did she mean stop Russian interference, but genj. And I also said on this hidden camera recording, which Zack did not provide to us, that was filmed by our undercover reporters, she also said that, that Google needs to stay big two to two, fairly fragmented, then you wouldn’t be able, then you wouldn’t be able to stop Trump, essentially. So this is what this person said. And that amplified is x message messages his document, we interviewed him. And I feel very strongly that
Eric Weinstein 1:33:44
you understand I’m worried that we’re not communicating again. I agree that there’s this really strange problem that you can’t go to CNN, The Washington Post, NPR, New York Times with a certain class of stories that run counter to their unstated narratives. They won’t run them.
James O’Keefe 1:34:02
Yes, I’m right. Yes.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:03
So let’s let’s we can be in agreement, we
James O’Keefe 1:34:05
can agreement that the New York Times is the paper of record, they call
Eric Weinstein 1:34:08
themselves they used to be they call themselves who knows what but certainly not all
James O’Keefe 1:34:12
that is used but you are you are a very intelligent man. You pay attention to this stuff your audience’s is I’m certain extremely intelligent. Most people in Los Angeles looking out at the streets have no idea what we’re talking about. And in fact, when you go into the airports in O’Hare, or JFK, no, no, I’m also the guy who goes to the airport and temporarily when I look at that screen and has cnn Yeah, right, it runs.
Eric Weinstein 1:34:34
Yeah, whatever. My brain goes into the same stupid
James O’Keefe 1:34:38
Eric Weinstein 1:34:39
Right, as probably even does yours. Right. It’s the lower brain probably. Okay, probably. Right.
James O’Keefe 1:34:46
So when the New York Times Jim Rotenberg, I believe was his name said in 2016. something to the effect of we have to cover Trump unfavorably or unfairly. He basically said this on the front page. The executive editor Dean Beck had Who’s definitely no fan of mine executive RDMA said, Good good for Jim rittenberg to say that the paper of record has established on the front page of the New York Times that basically by Jim Ruttenberg, we must cover the president unfairly. And when we live in a world, and I’m trying to address your fundamental argument, when the premise is that our is that our institutions that inform our citizenry, by the way, I believe government is downstream from media. I agree with Solzhenitsyn that the press has more power than all three branches of the government. And I think you probably agree with that, too. If you don’t, we should talk about that. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:35:36
I wish I saw it as distinct from the government. Yeah.
James O’Keefe 1:35:40
Okay. But unlike the government, no, we don’t elect our media officials, and there aren’t any committees and there’s no, there’s no way of holding them accountable. So when you live in a world where that is the case, and the paper of record says we are going to cover this person unfairly, and everyone’s okay with that. I mean, I don’t know if it’s just worn theory or whatever the ethical look is locations.
Eric Weinstein 1:36:04
Again, the there’s an efficacy issue, which is accuracy. For example, when you were given a tape that needs to air and imagine that you had two ways of airing you had a way of airing it with Project Veritas stamped on it or without Project Veritas stamped
James O’Keefe 1:36:22
I’d have to use Project Veritas I feel strongly about that because you believe in your own project No, because in order to have the authority to make the decisions tend to let me do them please let me finish this point because i, this is my Martin Luther moment here I stand I could do no other in order to have the authority to not settle the lawsuits such that I can draw another insider out to come to me with nowhere to go I have to I have to, I have to be able to draw. They call it the network effects if you will. whipsawing effects of drawing out other people They, they they have to know where to go to you Project Veritas because no one else everyone else will settle the lawsuits everyone else will quit there the barriers to entry I don’t even know if this is correct Spanish
Eric Weinstein 1:37:11
but like huevos Del Toro, you know, like you’re establishing at some level that your organization will stand behind the people who contribute to you, you will protect them that you have the competency that is how you see Project Veritas. Let me see for the purposes of this argument that that is true. Okay. Hypothetically, imagine a second white label that had established the same track record.
James O’Keefe 1:37:39
The did not cut white label that established the same track,
Eric Weinstein 1:37:42
right. In other words, people had come to them they’d never cracked, they never broken, they never settled on defamation or whatever.
James O’Keefe 1:37:50
Right? I would submit to you that the barriers to entry are too high for that,
Eric Weinstein 1:37:54
but what I’m saying what I’m trying to get at is, do you acknowledge That you have not evaded the shit suit very effectively. Maybe you think you’ve done as good a job as you could do. But I can guarantee you like, I had a choice when I sat for the Senate when I decided to have you sit for this interview, which is how much did I want to spend on James O’Keefe? I thought you important. Really important. Me, me and my history, the history of what I’ve done, or do you mean by virtue of the fact in the crazy left of center? mainstream game? They play an association game. Right? So Association, yes. So you sit in this chair, and I don’t and I say anything that’s positive about you.
James O’Keefe 1:38:37
you normalize and the that’s what they’re gonna say.
Eric Weinstein 1:38:41
Whatever the hell they’re gonna say. They’re idiots. Yeah. Right. If we if we think about the idiots who sit in the golden thrones inside of the commentariat, we will never get anything done. You’re worth spending in terms of their idiotic calculus of adjacency on graphs. Hmm. Okay. So I’ve decided to lose credibility, I’ve decided to lose some viewers, I’ve decided to make a very easy target on myself just by sitting with you because they’re evil and that’s wrong. You deserve a hearing, you’ve done a lot of stuff, much of it good. And I’m still pissed off and angry. And I don’t know that we’ve exactly connected, okay? We haven’t even gotten to whether or not there’s selective editing on some videos, all the usual things. I tend not to spend time where other people do spend time I figure you can have that conversation with somebody else. It’s a waste of my effing time. So I want to I want you to have the conversation here that you’re not going to be able to have anywhere else. Thank you. Okay, well, thank you. So what I’m trying to get at is, I want to see you more disturbed. If you think about this as a fraction, it’s important truths per unit deception, or just unit sub ethical deception, okay. And your point is my fraction is positive. And I want you one to search your soul. Could you have made the denominator smaller without making it zero? I’m not, I don’t think I don’t want to hold you to the standards to the standards of Jesus if Jesus was an investigative report, okay,
James O’Keefe 1:40:13
the asymptote towards that didn’t it’s like, over time, I think it’ll get cleaner and cleaner and cleaner that may be but the point is, is that you had to spend a lot early on learning your game. I
Eric Weinstein 1:40:23
think that and I also want it, I want an effing come to Jesus moment, if you’re going to continue to be the only place people can let’s take your insider from before. Yeah. And that person that says, Look, I couldn’t go anywhere else. I believe that in some sense, that’s true. And I believe that you have to take on a new responsibility. You’re right.
James O’Keefe 1:40:40
You’re right. I actually one of I have 14 ethical principles, which I actually don’t have memorized, but I generally know them and the 14th is, with great power comes great responsibility, very cliche, but I tell my team every day I got to my folks are out there in the green room in there and they’re winking at me like I tell my folks every day that we have a pretty have found responsibility where I disagree a little bit is that and I’m I am trying to in good faith get to the fundamentals.
Eric Weinstein 1:41:06
We’ve had a good faith conversation so far.
James O’Keefe 1:41:08
Oh, absolutely. I’m just trying to address your fundamental police argument. And it’s an interesting point that you’re narrowing that you’re pinning your down on. It’s interesting, Eric because nobody else, even in even the people, I are my hero heroes of the 20th century. All of them were could took this sort of like, oh, shucks, like, Are you kidding me? Give me a, give me an effing break about ethics. The guy’s not going to tell me the stuff unless I go in there. That’s how they say it. They say the only way to get the information is to use this and they do go for the jugular. But they’re not blood thirsty. It’s not Bloodsport, they, they they believe so much that a government agency is not stepping up and all the rationalizations that I’ve gone over with you here about why we do it. They and for me in college, the Lucky Charms It was literally a justice complex. And when you’re wired the way that we’re your hypocrite,
Eric Weinstein 1:42:02
what’s that? Are you a hypocrite?
Unknown Speaker 1:42:04
I am. How Sal.
Eric Weinstein 1:42:06
I don’t know I say lots of things that aren’t true. I lie sometimes I have a rosy opinion of myself that probably won’t. I says, I see what you’re saying. In other words, what you’re saying, I’m a sinner to use the religious
James O’Keefe 1:42:19
Yes, I think
Eric Weinstein 1:42:20
not to be destroyed for my sins constantly. I don’t always want to be reminded of the foreigner from Sparta, although it’s a pretty damn good limit.
James O’Keefe 1:42:29
That is a very astute point. A lot of people have said, are wary, because if they’re in front of the magnifying glass, you’re going to find if you’re in a bar saying things and I think it goes back
Eric Weinstein 1:42:40
to why you’re losing people. In part in part, the idea is I can’t see the difference between if you had a more clearly stated ethics, if you went to greater lengths to first try, can we get the reform without causing somebody to lose their job,
James O’Keefe 1:42:58
but can I can I make one modification about our vision statement, please. Our vision statement has evolved from 10 years ago. And now we have these brave insiders that, that where the cameras and and in some cases violate their own confidentiality agreements. And they’re to your point, they’re Heroes for what they do and they’re willing to lose their jobs. And why? Because they have some sick fetish with being martyrs. Of course that because they are so motivated by this justice complex. Oh, and by the way, when we talk about being hypocrites, every, of course, I’m a hypocrite. Everyone does things they make mistakes in their private life. If you put my life on things too hard. I do. Of course, we have secrets. Yeah. And and there are boundaries on where
Eric Weinstein 1:43:45
I appreciated what you said before that you had things that could destroy somebody that you wouldn’t air because you didn’t 100% and
James O’Keefe 1:43:51
we and I tell another ethics rule of my 14 rules is I tell my staff behave as though there are 12 jurors always watching you, Eric. This is a very Very important distinction between me and us. And I would think other newsrooms and in the intelligence community a huge distinction ethically that we we that I believe in is that you have to behave like there are 12 jurors always watching you whenever you work. in your bedroom. I don’t want to know what goes on your bedroom. I don’t care. I think that’s a boundary I would never cross.
Eric Weinstein 1:44:22
I brag when drunk in bars. You. I don’t I do not
James O’Keefe 1:44:26
do that. Do you drink? Very rarely, okay. I drink. There’s nothing wrong with drinking.
Eric Weinstein 1:44:30
Okay? When I drink I become disinhibited. When I become disinhibited. I say things that self aggrandized. That I think make me look big in the moment and when there’s a contact, wait a second, sorry. Now my point to you is not to tell you that I’m the world’s worst person in a bar. My point is, is that a lot of us go drinking in bars. A lot of us say stupid stuff. A lot of us say contradictory stuff. A lot of us puff ourselves up. A lot of us come forth with lies with truth. All sorts of things. And effectively what you’re doing is you’re losing those of us who wish to remain sinners and part of this world. Now, I see this in terms of a right of center counterculture, for example, you are particularly animated by the story of leftist professors, extolling the virtues of stall and when he was an incredible mass murder. I’m with you. I come from the left. I hear you, it makes me effing crazy. Likewise, I can tell you that I am very, very pissed off and angry about all sorts of stuff that goes on on the right. Now in general, I spend my time targeting the left for very different reasons that you do. My feeling is you guys are throwing the game you make us look terrible. What are you you’re like, from my perspective, you’re supporting mass murderers. Now You know, you want to talk about the starvation in the Ukraine, you want to talk about the show trials, you want to talk about article 58? Who the hell are you to extol the virtues of of Joseph Stalin? Okay, your perspective maybe that’s that lefty crap. But I come from a part of the left that you probably would get along with much better. You no question. But people who stood up for the working poor, people who are very focused on the abuses of power, wherever they are. And I look at you and I say, your politics, your own Crusade, like I see the issue with justice, I have a justice issue as well. And it, it both brings out the best in me, and the worst. Mm hmm. And when I asked you about like, you know, searching your soul, and you start talking about all of the things that make you more heroic, I’m not hearing the part that I’m looking for, which is what opens you up to people like my family, my friends, my colleagues. Which is you’re doing great stuff. Sometimes Sometimes you’re doing terrible stuff. I don’t want to get into what I think is great. And what I think is terrible. But it’s enough to say that some of it is
James O’Keefe 1:47:10
great. All right. I want to be able to bring my people what you do when you’re doing great stuff. And I don’t want to spend three hours talking about the ethics of James O’Keefe. It’s going to be hard, Eric, because no matter what we do, I think it’s, you’re a rare individual, because all of the time it’s extensively about the ethics about the nodes. But in reality that’s but then your case is not what you were saying.
Eric Weinstein 1:47:37
And you’re saying that the methods make you an easy target.
James O’Keefe 1:47:40
I it’s it’s a it’s a conundrum because you can’t get the effects. You can’t get the
Eric Weinstein 1:47:47
No no, no, it might an interior point you’re not on the efficient frontier Jr. is just not
James O’Keefe 1:47:52
there is no other means of
Eric Weinstein 1:47:56
so for example, I disagree with you. If you were targeting Twitter, let’s say
Unknown Speaker 1:47:59
Eric Weinstein 1:48:02
And you went through and you said, Look, we’re here we have a new program at Project Veritas we are going to try to get this information. But what we’re going to try to do is we are going to try to limit the collateral damage to individuals, because we don’t really want to destroy people, what we want to do is to make sure that it is understood that the world has an accurate idea of the platform on which it communicates. Okay. Right. And then you went through great pains and you said, Look, here’s our first line. Our first line is we’re going to try to spare people and then we’re going to provide greater and greater resolution as you come to ignore our work. Because the content layer is different than the than the really sexy humiliation layer.
James O’Keefe 1:48:46
The voyeurism your talk, I can’t stand the voyeurism that maybe it’s been it’s been characterized in the 20th century is voyeurism like that,
Eric Weinstein 1:48:54
you know, elevation, I say something that I really appreciate you came up with that word, I wanted to use it and I thought that’s Not gonna be fair to him. And so it feels to me like that’s in good faith. And I
James O’Keefe 1:49:04
think the viewers have a right to know the public has a right to know what David Wright said in that bar with his face May.
Eric Weinstein 1:49:11
I don’t know the answer to that question, because I think the answer is yes. Okay. And I struggle with it. And I understand your argument. And I worry, okay, okay. And I also worry that for all of us hypocrites in the audience, I don’t want to see your face in a bar. I don’t want you in a mustache. I don’t want you in a dress. I don’t want you with a camera in your purse. I don’t think privacy is completely dead. I don’t know all the business in your life, you may have gotten to that point. And I know that all of the people who own tech companies want to tell me that privacy is dead because they want to monetize my privacy. That’s true. To be honest, I don’t know what they’re doing in their bedrooms. And so it’s the asymmetry that I don’t wish to live under. And I don’t wish to put a camera on you. To keep you from putting a camera on me. Now, you may have accepted those terms. But I am rejecting the game and I’m rejecting the game when the New York Times plays it with me near Times
James O’Keefe 1:50:00
published my wedding website last Sunday. And and I can tell you in a personal moment of vulnerability here, that that was hard for me and a lot of people, a lot of people, in fact, I would say the majority reaction was they doxed O’Keeffe’s wedding. And I remember I was in a grocery store because I think this cuts to your point I was gonna go store thinking, Man, that sucks. That hurts. But I kind of simultaneous is like, no, that’s my cross to bear.
Eric Weinstein 1:50:26
That’s because you’ve accepted the game.
Unknown Speaker 1:50:28
I’ve accepted that I have not I, I hear you. And most of us,
Eric Weinstein 1:50:34
you see, your appeal is limited by virtue of the fact that most of us are sinners, who don’t know where James o keeps editing. Don’t know where James O’Keefe disguises don’t know where James O’Keeffe’s practices begin and end whether the in general covenant between two people that is assumed which is often violated. Often
James O’Keefe 1:50:57
Yeah, not not actually. But that Before the advent of technology lead me I understand that and I understand your point that it’s
Eric Weinstein 1:51:03
better to actually have an accurate representation of stuff. But the thing is, is that I also think that in part, do you remember like this program to catch a predator? Of course I remember it. Okay. So that was really, really interesting. Was that the right way to go about that problem?
James O’Keefe 1:51:24
It was, it was a little different than what we do. It was it was a little it was a little it was mainstream. Yes. Let’s put that out. Chris Hansen. And NBC NBC NBC dateline, Chris Hanson would set up these people with when and enter and trap them. I’m not legally speaking because they’re not the government. But in the case of right and robot, particularly as this asymptote gets a little less problematic I would say to ethicist we’re just literally letting people and I mean a strong with right we didn’t even quote him like even though we’re even But I’m trying to
Eric Weinstein 1:52:00
get what I’m trying to do is to say, what dateline did if it is, in fact dateline, Dateline NBC dateline Shirley’s did was to set up something much more extreme in some sense than what you do. And to use the entertainment value of catching and destroying someone who would prey on show you if you have something, an activity which is completely evil. Yes, in my book, and I don’t think I’m not going to back away from the word evil. Probably committed by people who are mentally and psychologically damaged. In fact, our friend David Eagleman even gives the case of a guy who had no pedophilia, no pedophilic desires until he developed a brain tumor and then suddenly had them then the brain tumor was excised, they went away. Then the pedophilia came back and they scan the brain again, there was a tumor, so it’s possible to destroy life based on a weird physiology thing. It’s possible that these people are just sick, evil, horrible people. I don’t know what it is. I’ll tell you what I do. Okay. I know that the activity that these people were engaged in was evil. And I know that the techniques were entertaining because they were so destructive and vindictive.
James O’Keefe 1:53:18
So. A lot of ethicists in the 1990s in tooth in the 2000s said that it was akin to using a bazooka to kill a fly. It was voyeuristic at Project Veritas we didn’t
Eric Weinstein 1:53:30
I should have been sorry. I don’t even know that I maybe it was the case that that was so terrifying. That it actually stopped some stuff. I don’t know I
James O’Keefe 1:53:39
have a very complex view on this. But I strongly believe that there are some like we’re talking about now we’re talking about it’s a situational ethics and listen, the beauty and bane of the ethical thing is that it’s inherently situational you can evaluate the means used to obtain the information used to obtain the information. In the abstract, you have to evaluate on a case by case basis. This is what all of the reporters have said in the 20th century when it comes to this and when it comes to what what what we’re talking about now we’re talking about Disney corporations children’s company, we’re talking about Google, you know, with whatever a trillion dollar market cap we’re talking about. Facebook, we’re talking about these these these these leviathans, and we feel, I don’t know, I don’t know how else to say it. And I know I’m being redundant, but we feel the public has such a right to know this.
Eric Weinstein 1:54:34
I also don’t think you can name your your rock with enough force. And I don’t think your stone will be true. I think that you’re you’re not understanding the point, which is you’re paying for things that you could do better by a limit in the effectiveness of the project. If you could get your politics the hell out of what you’re doing.
James O’Keefe 1:54:53
I did on this point, I’m going to vehemently disagree with you, please, we focus. We don’t more realize we don’t we don’t we don’t editorialize the content. The the the medium is so pure. It’s the purest type of reporting. We don’t add to it. We don’t edit it out of context. Contrary to reports, we don’t do any of that stuff. And what other journalists do is, is trying to contextualize and add moralism to it. Investigate our stuff is is hard fact. It’s it’s hard fact. And and people say, Well, you’re right wing. Well, here’s the deal. If the New York Times wants to say, on the front page, Jim bird wants to make the argument that we need to cover this guy unfairly. And they use the paper of record and the bully pulpit to do that. Then if I just take my camera and aim it in any direction I worry about, I’m going to record things that are contrary to what the media says.
Eric Weinstein 1:55:50
Yes. And the media has a I don’t even want to call it a left of center but like a Democratic Party bias it I believe that it does, you may not I can say that. It does. All right.
James O’Keefe 1:56:02
Now, it’s not up to you. I’m not I’m not asking you to say, I just believe strongly that I don’t get my politics. Don’t
Eric Weinstein 1:56:09
where’d you go after a corn?
James O’Keefe 1:56:12
Because I logged on to YouTube. And I saw a videotape. of, of of, well, three reasons number one a girl messaged me on Facebook and said I’d love to do something on acorn. So I logged on to YouTube 2009 I typed into the search bar acorn because I didn’t know a lot about them. And I saw a video where they were squatting foreclosed homes. And I looked that up. I said, Well, that’s against the law. So while that might be morally justified in some circumstance, I think that someone needs to expose or test these acorn workers propensity or willingness to break the law. And then Hannah Giles, the young woman said, Why don’t you post it? Why don’t I post as a prostitute? And I said, Well, that’s interesting. There’s a prostitute probably should be some pimps. So I was I was testing and affirming. Why is Is it that this organization which may get billions of dollars in federal money is allowed to break laws? And do people have a right to know that information? And what was different about what we did is we just walked in off the street and had a conversation. It wasn’t some elaborate deception. We go after the sacred cows. Eric, we go after the organizations that the media is unwilling or unable to invest in,
Eric Weinstein 1:57:22
I believe that there’s a huge problem that you have it an ostensibly, I hate the term left of center, media, sort of a center left oriented media that refuses to go after center left counter narrative stories, that would be a counter narrative story. So in other words, I think I can tell the tale, which is each, there is no news outfit, that is so good that it can run counter narrative stories. And there’s no news outfit that’s so inept that it can’t run a story fairly, that comes right down the center of its narrative. And then the key question is What about stories that are, you know, 30% oblique to the, to the narrative or who knows what, right. So this is like the main problem. So given that the major organs you know, tend to be aligned with the sort of center left perspective, those stories don’t get credit, they live in the blind spot. And so I understand why you do it. And in part, this is why I target the same group of people, because my feeling is is that they are destroying the confidence now what really divides us is that you and I have radically different ideas about what to do about this problem. And I’m concerned that I’m coming across and I’m saying here are my biases. Right, you’re even saying your right wing, if I say your right wing versus right of center versus conservative versus alt right. Like there are all sorts of ways to conjugate well, Upton
James O’Keefe 1:58:55
Sinclair was a socialist Seymour Hersh, the guy who broke the My Lai Massacre was an anti war. activist, all of the people that have ever done anything worth doing as far as I’m sorry about manufacturing? No, no, that’s not my point. My point is, is that anybody who’s ever found facts that were the fiercest of indignation fused with the hardest effects were total ideologues and more power to them as far as I’m concerned. As long as what they were reporting was actually factual.
Eric Weinstein 1:59:22
I only that is not your job to investigate all facts and that you’re, you have a right to choose what you want to focus on.
James O’Keefe 1:59:29
And right now that’s probably the fourth estate is the is the beat, I understand it, but you I’m missing the point well, or I’m
Eric Weinstein 1:59:37
or or I mean, I’ve said most of the discussion is really good. But we there is a point at which we
James O’Keefe 1:59:42
the ethics of what we do and and and I don’t know if I can,
Eric Weinstein 1:59:47
I don’t know if I’m qualified academically to go deeper strike me as very self righteous and insufficiently reflective with respect to some of the most persistent critiques and it is not the case. Like I don’t think you’ve ever been been given your due for the good that you do. Like Trump when he does good, we tell him that he’s a jerk. Right? Okay in general as a society. So the idea is that he just if you wanted a model, when you decide that somebody is themselves bad, there’s a belief that you should never say anything positive about that person. Right? Because to do that clutters the issue and the issue is we know we have a bad person. So for example, Hitler gave up there was a protest in the rows and strata of women who wanted their half Jewish men back from the death camps. And somehow these women were so bad ass that they actually caused a problem for the Nazis. And the Nazis relented and released these men. Okay, do I want to say, good for the Nazis for doing this horror, this this thing In the middle of a horrible, you know, psychotic situation, I don’t want to say a damn thing that’s positive. I want it to be so simple, so clean, that it’s just Nazi equals bad. Right? Right. So this is kind of the problem that we have is that we don’t want to acknowledge anything good about somebody we deemed to be bad.
James O’Keefe 2:01:20
But the but the way our videos work is that they slip the disc in so far as they force a reaction. And that end justifies that particular mean,
Eric Weinstein 2:01:30
maybe the idea is I want you to be a little bit less certain about the numerator and denominator of what you’re doing, because it adds up to effectiveness. And I know that in the next two years,
James O’Keefe 2:01:44
somebody is going to send you a piece of video that I am going to say, Oh my god, that is incredible. I needed to know that that is the most important thing and it’s going to have Project Veritas stamped on it. And I’m going to show that to people and you know what they’re gonna say I’m just saying Because I move it I move in academic left of center circles. You can’t trust anything from Project Veritas. And I’m going to say, wait a minute, are you claiming that there’s a cut in this? Are you claiming, just let me when I’m listening, I’m listening. All right? Are you claiming that this never happened? Are you claiming this and they are not going to listen to a word. All they’re going to say is I’ve got my fingers in my ears, my eyes are closed, then when I’m done, I’m done. So I don’t have to hear a single thing James O’Keefe ever says, that’s their strategy to keep you from having the impact that some of your the best of your work deserves, and it will work for a while. But then one day, we’ll catch some things and we’ll catch some more things and for some more reactions, and little by little over time, people will go, you know, but that there’s a guy in New Jersey, David Perry, that guy was caught on tape, telling a person he thought was a child abuser teacher, just lie and put it back on the child. The Democratic state senator of New Jersey, where I’m from This is two years ago held hearings about it. They, they they the governor of New Jersey, who’s who’s Phil Murphy, the big big friend of the teachers union was forced to condemn it. So what by getting the reactions from institutions by forcing other insiders to come forward, it’s just after a while that I did we just keep going, we just keep doing it.
Eric Weinstein 2:03:20
And I hope you’re partially effective, and I can’t get the
James O’Keefe 2:03:24
train. I’m not trying to focus on my self righteousness or my heroism. What I’m trying to do is tell tell you that in order to do this job, the reporter has to have a sense of singing, narrow, tunnel vision, nothing can get in our way, if I let anything stop me from that vision, which is a very by the way I it’s going to happen. We’re going to recruit more insiders, they’re going to record more things inside these institutions and, and that there’s going to be double the output every year. And after a while, we did one of these stories in Delaware, where a teacher a teacher’s union official was caught on tape and The Union at Duke you can’t trust Project Veritas their right wing extreme criminals. And the membership, most of whom were probably democrats but not as political as us were like, but he was on tape protecting a child abuser. Why are we trying to cover that up? There was a slip in the disk. And I’ve got the documents, I could show you the source material where the members were taught chattering on the internal message boards. And Eric, the president of the Delaware union said do not click on this YouTube do not give O’Keefe one more, one more view. And all of the numbers went but what’s why heydo keep what’s wrong with what he did here. So my point is content is king
Eric Weinstein 2:04:38
james, you’re not getting it. I know I am. Well, I feel like what you’re doing is you’re telling me that you are effective, and I’m not disputing that. Why Why bother telling me because you’re having an impact
James O’Keefe 2:04:52
on it. Because if you want to evaluate the ethics in the abstract, it’s impossible for me to justify cannot
Eric Weinstein 2:04:57
its empire. I’m not telling you to be An angel. I’m really not.
James O’Keefe 2:05:02
It’s I cannot I will not it is ethically impossible for me to justify using a disguise in the ways we do because it’s like trying to
Eric Weinstein 2:05:11
do I haven’t even said anything about whether you’re entitled to do some of that stuff. I’m maybe maybe I need to make myself clear
James O’Keefe 2:05:18
maybe maybe so but I believe what I it’s going to be very difficult for me to make an argument a logical argument defending methods that taken in the abstract are indefensible on their own it’s like trying to one emphasis says I tried to invent fireproof, fireproof coal or dry water. I can’t.
Eric Weinstein 2:05:41
I’m not asking you to be a perfect Angel. I’m telling you something different, which just doesn’t land. Okay. I don’t think you’re on the efficient frontier. I think that there are things you could do that could minimize the individual harm and maximize the anti institutional effectiveness of your operation.
James O’Keefe 2:05:59
More Individual harm,
Eric Weinstein 2:06:01
right? In other words, the problem that you have is is that most of the people that you’re broadcasting to are like me, poor schmucks who don’t have their stuff completely sorted out. They partially sympathize and partially cannot stand the people you’re catching on video. And by doing more, to up the ethics of your game, you would have more effectiveness. And I’m not saying you have no effectiveness. I’m not saying you’ve done no good. I’m not saying you don’t have huevos of steel. I’m not saying that. I haven’t thrilled to things that you’ve released. I’m not backing one second away from my decision to invite you here. And I think I made absolutely the right decision. I have things I could try to gotchu you with. I think you’d be fine with it because I think you’re a pugilist and you accept the game in a way that I do not. And the key issue is I’m standing by what I’m doing. We want your heroic behavior and we want you to To get some of the flies in the ointment out, maybe not all of them
James O’Keefe 2:07:05
okay. All right, I think I think I understand and going back
Eric Weinstein 2:07:09
to see you struggling with the fact that somebody is not going to have a job when you’re done with them or somebody is going to be humiliated or somebody maybe will take their own life at some point so why would have picked when sorry when you could have pixelated their face and
James O’Keefe 2:07:24
gone after the employer? Like what’s like the face if I use these strategies you
Eric Weinstein 2:07:29
can figure out what look as I said, I’m not making a case that I would not make against Dateline NBC
James O’Keefe 2:07:34
you don’t know what you you don’t know the unknowns which is that we do in fact, redact, omit and otherwise, not particularly
Eric Weinstein 2:07:41
Zach Vorhees, his face when you had him on your program. Yes, yes. Until Yes. And he made the decision to go I understand that. But my point was that there was a period of time where you were protecting your source Yes. And not protecting the target.
James O’Keefe 2:07:56
judge denied Google
Eric Weinstein 2:07:57
or exam found and what I’m trying to Say I want to see you wrestle with the ethics more than justify the ethics. Because to be honest, I had a phone call with you. And you were wrestling with the ethics and it was inspiring.
James O’Keefe 2:08:11
I think you I think I wrestle with them more than you see. That’s what I’m saying. And at night I getting a little naked at the at the booth here. I torture myself. Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say. And most people don’t. Well, okay. See that in the single single minded, driven? You know,
Eric Weinstein 2:08:31
you don’t wrestle with the idea whether you’re going to protect your sources, well, would you wrestle with the ethic? This is the thing that I do,
James O’Keefe 2:08:37
you have to take my word for it. But at night when I believe that when I’m in my bed, I’m willing to dive into an internal dialogue with myself, for example, in the upcoming story, which I’m not going to say on the air, but in the upcoming story. We have this person that was we had to protect for reasons I can’t even say, and our team had two days of conversations about do we blur the person’s face do we write your name? We did. All that. And it comes down to a cliche, which the Pam zachman said in the 1970s, which you have to balance the harm to the person with the with the weightiness of what is being exposed. And
Eric Weinstein 2:09:14
you only have to do that on the efficient frontier. Do you understand the point? If you’re in an interior point, you are not at the point where you have to balance those two things yet. Your first goal is to get to the efficient frontier. And that’s an issue of skill. Okay?
James O’Keefe 2:09:29
Help me understand more. Help me understand, Bridgette, this concept from the efficient frontier, imagine balancing harm versus public important, right?
Eric Weinstein 2:09:36
Imagine, for example, that you hadn’t pixelated somebody’s face, but you could pixelate it, and you could have the same effect. Now, just for the moment I see. The point is, you don’t yet have to balance the harm to the individual. In fact, you can even get a boost in both. It could be that people say oh my god, he’s trying not to destroy the person. He’s really concerned about platforms that have a bias that can’t be discussed in public. I’m really disturbed about and I also, you know, I hate. I really hate the Donald Trump is president. I really do. But this is democracy. And we have to wait. It. Wait. Okay. My show. Go ahead. We have a right to elect Donald Trump, if that’s what we’re, what we’re going to do. We don’t have a group of people that gets the right to stop Donald Trump. You’re either signed up for democracy project or you’re not. I’m signed up for the democracy project. So if the electorate elects Donald Trump, I have to accept that Donald Trump is the president. I don’t have to like it. Right. But that’s part of what being an American is. And God dammit, if my guy at some point wins, you’re gonna have to suffer through him too. So tough shit. Right? That’s, that’s the bargain that we signed up for is America. Okay, you don’t have an unelected group of techies who get to keep their finger on the scale and say, well, for the good of the world, we have the right to control the election because all the information passes through our servers. Okay, I get that What if you’re at a situation where you can protect the individual and by protecting the individual display a kind of humanity that causes more people rather than fewer? to sign on, because the content rather than the destruction of the person? is what really animates us? Are you telling me that I’m being de boosted and down ranked, and they claim that they don’t shadow ban because they’ve got different words for it? Are you telling me that Google has an internal thing called the good sensor? And they won’t talk to us about it? Is there an esoteric esoteric game are you telling me that a bunch of people whose politics i don’t know is determining exactly what the contents of my mind are and that we can’t even discuss this? I’m animated by your content. And what you’re instead showing me is the pornography of personal destruction Interesting. Interesting. The pornography I’ve heard Say with me the pornography of personal monography if I think personally stroke I
James O’Keefe 2:11:57
think I’ve heard this some I’ve heard this argument for somewhere someplace by someone so I’ve actually thought about this. And I think we’re we’re where we disagree on the premises that I’m quote destroying, unquote, someone by letting them talk. And what I’m what I’m what I’m trying to reconcile here is that I, we believe so strongly that that journalism is corrupt because you don’t see the intonation, the movement of their eyes. I’ve already seated this. You already see this to me, but to me, this is directly connected to the premise that we’re destroying people. I don’t think we’re destroying David Wright and I had maybe we’re maybe we’re freeing.
Eric Weinstein 2:12:41
I had the walls eternal come after me.
Unknown Speaker 2:12:43
Eric Weinstein 2:12:45
They like personal destruction. Don’t get them wrong. They’re into I think
James O’Keefe 2:12:49
you and I agree on those on Alright, so then
Eric Weinstein 2:12:51
that we don’t need to grapple with
James O’Keefe 2:12:52
that but what I’m struggling with is I don’t view it as a destruction and I’m and I’m ready and willing to live in a world in this Since I’m not a hypocrite, but where if someone wants to record me to bar bragging, bragging openly because this is your
Eric Weinstein 2:13:06
you’re also getting paid from this. I mean, I don’t mean to say that that’s why you will actually I
James O’Keefe 2:13:10
like to make a profound comment about this. I started in my and I’m passionate, I’m angry. I’m just passionate, because I really appreciate that I’m not I’m just I’m just passionate. I started this on my parents bedroom floor with a laptop people thought I was frickin nuts and and and and
Eric Weinstein 2:13:26
I don’t want you making this argument cuz I can make it better for you. Well, the fact that I said that you were getting paid for it doesn’t mean that this is your road to riches. You could get more money doing something else. Let me make the point very clearly. Okay. Am I right that you’re basically willing to die for what you do? Hmm.
James O’Keefe 2:13:41
That might come across as you know, I don’t
Eric Weinstein 2:13:44
know. Are you willing to risk death for what you do? It’s a very common Are you willing to risk personal destruction for what you do? Are you willing to risk jail for what you do?
Unknown Speaker 2:13:54
Eric Weinstein 2:13:55
Yeah. I think you’re willing to risk ruin.
Unknown Speaker 2:13:59
Eric Weinstein 2:14:01
Yeah. My oh my favorite guy Albert Einstein said that the public intellectual has to be willing to risk ruin financial ruin, but he generally jailed talking during the McCarthy era. Okay, okay. I think it’s very admirable. I don’t see enough of this in my world. And I struggle with this. How much am I willing to risk to run the show? How much am I willing to risk to do an episode on Jeffrey Epstein? When I don’t know what the hell is on the other end of that story? Right. There’s no amount of money that you can pay me to do. It’s not why I do it. Right. I sat on that. I sat on that episode for a long time, but I just found it was leaking out of me. I couldn’t stop talking about it. Because I’m worried that I’m part of a country that looks the other way. When somebody who has intelligence maybe a freelancer who knows. You know, is is is trafficking. 12 year old girls, my cut my country and my reporters won’t stand up and ask the goddamn questions. Hmm, right. And so I don’t even If I made a same choice, I just know that I couldn’t sit on it any longer. That said, this is your game. It’s not my game. Mm hmm. And therefore I don’t have the same need to be able to say, Well, I’m willing to go into a bar. Okay, you’ve accepted the game. So you’ve accepted, that’s the price of what you do. But what you don’t understand is the rest of us are not like that. And because we haven’t made that bargain, we both think you’re protecting us and hunting us at the same time. If you were trying to hunt power, you could have less collateral damage to the individual. And I won’t say it again, because I think I’ve said it enough, right. My feeling is you displayed enough depth of character on the phone. When we were talking as you struggle with these issues, and you evidence, a higher level of inner conflict of dialectic of concern. Your stories would benefit so much more from showing that person rather than the person who knows exactly what the laws of one side of recording are in Montana versus I Oh,
James O’Keefe 2:16:15
I hear it. And I wrestle with that every time we release a story I probably should have started by talking about the process by which we wrestle with it both from a company like my my colleagues, and me personally, in my bed every night. These are, these are inherently situational tests. But going back to our Rules for Radicals book, which, you know, we can talk about or not, but To hell with Saul Alinsky. I know, people think it’s controversial. I keep citing Alinsky, but the he says the idea of immorality is to do nothing. And this is what he says the Indian idea of morality is to do nothing and I could never justify inaction. And I tried Eric to live a normal life my personal story is is pretty crazy. I tried going to law school, I tried going to business school and I’d sneak out to get into the video lab like, You’re right. I have a unique role in society, which maybe makes me more willing to subject myself to the tactics that I do, but that somebody has to do it. The insiders, it’s point 0000 1% of people are probably willing to strap a camera to themselves violate a nondisclosure agreement for the public’s right to know in the country. 400 million, that’s a lot of people. There are roles that we have and we I don’t know if maybe we just want to move on to the next point and you know, who which old polities remind me.
Eric Weinstein 2:17:47
He was a Polish, I guess, nobility. And he had the idea during World War Two that he should visit Auschwitz. So he dressed up as if he were Jewish, so that they would take him into Auschwitz. And he did reconnaissance and he organized resistance. And then he got himself stuck out so he could tell the world now, it was deceptive. Was it justified? 12,000 million percent. It’s not about deception, right? It’s not about not wanting to bring these institutions when they are doing wrong to their knees. And it is not about the issue that I do not see. I completely agree with you that journalists have taken this privilege for themselves as an indulgence of working for the times, that they have the right to behave in this fashion and those outside of the club do not. The issue has to do with whether or not you are actually being effective in not wrestling in a more productive way in front of you. Your critics, given that you’re going to continue just if I take things where people are simply going to feed you information because they can’t trust anyone else. And my claim is is that that is what places this moral burden on you.
James O’Keefe 2:19:14
Do you familiar with Stanley McChrystal and
michael hastings in 2010? You know, he burned McChrystal in the Rolling Stone magazine. it’s customary for reporters to go to, you know, speaking of going to bars, and the military brass or saying things could have off the cuff. Yep. And you familiar with this story? Yes. McChrystal resigned or was fired by Obama or whatever the case may be. Do you believe in that circumstance that Michael Hastings Is this a is this consistent with what we do are different because it didn’t involve the case of video? No offense,
Eric Weinstein 2:19:52
it’s not just about video. It’s about the fact that you are one of the only people standing outside of this structure. Sure, who’s got the organization and the stones to go up against this. And honestly, in some sense, I’m doing a different version of this. I’m not as powerful I’m not as prominent yet. But the portal is in part in other place for things to come to the surface that need to come to the surface where there is no other break. And I guarantee you they’re going to try to fit me with the same shit suit that they fit you with. Oh, you can’t trust that that appeared on the portal. Did you see this one tweet from Eric? Here 2011 blah, blah, blah. This taken out of context that Russell conjugated, etc, etc. My point is you’re not filing a flight plan and I don’t want to meet you in the skies, doing your barnstorming tricks. Too many costumes, too little pixelation. Too much hidden camera shit. Too many people being felt being made to feel that they are vulnerable when you’re targeting an institution like a tech platform right? And your collateral damage isn’t enough. dividual who went may be misguided, maybe sanctimonious may be hypocritical. This is the William Tell problem from the original tweet that I tried to mention. You keep aiming too low. Now you can come back at me and say, Eric, what the hell have you done? And I could say, you know what I’m so worried about hitting the kid that I’m not, I’m not coming close to the apple. So I’m willing to be the other failed part of this enterprise. But my point is, maybe you want to take your aim a little bit up.
James O’Keefe 2:21:29
And maybe I need to be a little bit more pointed in bringing my arrow a little bit closer to the fruit. I appreciate your point. I think I understand it now. Thank you for Well, thank you for putting up with me here. It is a hard, hard conversation. This is a unique conversation, because I’m so used to dealing with disingenuous and bad faith, criticisms, but I don’t think I promise do
Eric Weinstein 2:21:51
what you gotta
James O’Keefe 2:21:53
be doing. I just, I’m just you’re just going deeper into an issue that most people at least least on the surface don’t have an issue with. And I will say that about him being very vulnerable here. But I’m, I consider myself a pretty transparent person. I can say that in my staff, speaking on behalf of our reporters from in it who operate anonymously really wrestle with this and in some cases we even have full curriculum workshop. I can’t get into all the things that we do when we train our people, but we actually have an entire half a day where we, man is it do you do you empathize with the person that you’re you’re. And it’s almost like we accept it. We take our medicine that I’m talking on behalf of the reporters. And we go well, you have to balance the public’s right to know and its circumstances will determine what they’re saying. And we do we do struggle with it. And the way that I’m wired in my brain is I have internal dialogues with myself. Yes, that’s what I’m trying to get out that maybe people don’t know that I know about me. In fact, I would say even my staff doesn’t even know that’s what
Eric Weinstein 2:23:02
I gambled on, given what it is that you do because you do things that show. I know you don’t have to believe me, but I hope you’ll take your word for it leaks out in what you do, Jane,
James O’Keefe 2:23:12
but I mean, I mean to say is a very important point. I James O’Keefe had internal dialogues in my brain, like an angel on one shoulder develin right. Did I do this? I’m wired to do this. I think I have an internal governor that like, like, I’m an old car that that that stops the how fast you’re going. I have that Governor and I surround myself with people Joe Halderman are one of our producers. He’s never voted Republican in his life. And he’s never voted for a republican ever. he’s a he’s an old newsman. And I tried to create a management team that we really do grapple with these things but but what it comes down to is the people believe so much and I mean, I’m coming here from a very, I’m trying to be as genuine as I possibly can. They believe so much in the value of the information and the public’s right to know it, that they kind of have to take that medicine and deal with the harm done to the individual in that specific circumstance. And it’s something that we we do despite the harm, not because of it. We don’t we don’t want harm. We farther you get away from things that look like entrapment, selective editing, invasion of privacy, right? needless destruction, of personal reputation,
Eric Weinstein 2:24:34
etc, etc, etc. all this stuff you can imagine. The greater you make the intake of your messages, because more of us understand that we are not in your crosshairs. You see, in part, I don’t really, I don’t want to be your worst nightmare. I want to be your best nightmare. I want to be the person who has a conversation with you, that gives you the criticism that you never get, because most of the criticism is at this very simplistic level. Right? I have to grant 12 things before we even get to the conversation that we’re supposed to be having. Okay, well, we got a chance to do that. And I promised you that that’s what you were going to get. Am I right, that there was no misrepresentation as to what this interaction was,
James O’Keefe 2:25:21
I think even very
Eric Weinstein 2:25:22
fair, and I think you’ve been very fair and I’ve been very forthcoming and I really appreciate that. What I want to say is, I would look forward to being able to have this conversation with you again, when and you have my number, feel free to call me up. The key thing that I’m trying to focus on is to the extent that what you do is a good thing that must be done and to the extent that there is almost no one else willing to do this. Consider that you are not on the efficient frontier and that upping the ethics make up the effectiveness. I understand what you said about you cannot afford it denominate of negativity that is zero or you know, badness or whatever you want to call. Right? My claim is, is that partially what is harming the efficacy of your of your project is that people feel that they are in your crosshairs. It’s a very technical argument, and that you’re getting too much pleasure out of the voyeuristic spectacle. And I don’t think that’s actually what’s motivating you. I really, I’m gonna gamble, and say, maybe that makes it mimetic. And people want to want to watch somebody be destroyed. But the information is so much more important that ABC might be holding back information on Jeff Epstein, that the major tech platforms have their finger on the scale and maybe trying to tilt elections. I don’t even remember the names of these people. I don’t care. And you know, to be honest, it’s like in a corrupt world, if I go to Nigeria, I guarantee you I can find everybody taking and giving bribes right. Right. And so in this moment of universal corruption, you really want to point to individuals being sanctimonious or sub ethical or you know, disguising speech, we all do it. So my claim is, is you have a unique opportunity, which is stop talking about the trade off and start working on getting to the point where the trade off kicks in.
James O’Keefe 2:27:23
Point taken point out now consider that James
Eric Weinstein 2:27:26
would be a pleasure to have you come back and further the conversation. We look forward to what you guys do next. Let me know if I can be a constructive force in your future. And I’m really glad whatever the cost that we chose to sit down, I think this was a conversation that I was dying to have with you and you have behaved terrifically in that chair. And thank you, sir,
James O’Keefe 2:27:44
and thank you and we welcome and let me just say, we welcome skepticism of even ourselves, we want we I try to be as transparent as possible, even into our methods, more so than others. So I welcome Miss, I appreciate it. Appreciate you all. So we say you’ve given me something to think about, and something to research further. I’ve never had anyone drill so far into this argument and I’m happy that you did so and I will think about it and I hope to see you again.
Eric Weinstein 2:28:13
I look forward to that. So you’ve been through the portal with James O’Keefe of Project Veritas. Please find us on Apple Stitcher, Spotify, wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe. Also, navigate on over to YouTube and not only subscribe, but click the bell icon so you’ll be notified when our next video episode drops. Be well everybody and stay safe during this bizarre Corona epidemic.
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday