Comments on podcast: The Portal 26: James O’Keefe: What is (and isn't) Journalism in the 21st century
i listened to Eric Weinstein spend 2 hours talking to James O’Keefe (of Project Veritas) and beat around the bush the whole time. (I listened in Overcast at 2.5x or 3x base speed for different parts, with SmartSpeed automatic silence removal adding an additional speed boost too).
lots of stuff was interesting in the small picture, locally interesting, but Weinstein was supposed to be sharing his disagreement and criticism. Which was basically:
i think what you’re doing is way less effective than it could and should be because my social circle sees your name and then irrationally ignores every fact associated with it.
he never quite said that clearly, and he never really got to step 2: what specific actions should O’Keefe do differently to avoid that problem? is that the fault of O’Keefe or the social circle? what downsides would the alternative actions have?
he brought up a few specifics: he’d like O’Keefe to pixelate more faces, leave out more names, and focus more on companies/organizations not individuals.
he thinks normal people, who aren’t the problem, are scared of veritas.
O’Keefe said how body language, facial expressions, and other details help paint a more vivid picture that communicates more to people
Weinstein mentioned briefly something about how O’Keefe could start milder and escalate. like do pixelated video, then if ppl don’t care enough, release non-pixelated. this struck me as just clueless about marketing. veritas has access to limited public attention and uses it well. can’t afford extra versions (except in appendixes for ppl who want extra details). can’t just lead with something 50% effective and then try to get more attention later when ppl don’t care.
Weinstein was extremely arrogant and kept talking himself up and how advanced and smart and shit he and his audience are. He was hard to listen to. I only put up with it because i liked listening to O'Keefe.
and that was pretty much it for 2 hours.
basically Weinstein just wants O’Keefe to somehow make stuff more acceptable to Weinstein’s (bad) social circle. and O’Keefe doesn’t know how to do that without ruining it, and Weinstein had no substantive suggestions, and the social circle has bad taste.
Weinstein seems to think that maybe if O’Keefe added more appendixes explaining the tough choices he makes, and how he worries over the right actions and the balance between informing the public and avoiding hurting anyone unnecessarily ... then that would make things better. i doubt it. i think Weinstein’s social circle would come up with other complaints and excuses if some of their current ones were changed. i think he’s friends with a bunch of elite social climbers and social climbers who want to be elite, and they are invested in The System (the powers that be; the status quo cultural leaders; the power of the mainstream media; the deep state; etc) that Veritas is a threat to. I think Weinstein himself is in a mixed, confused position of disliking The System in some significant ways but also having partial allegiance to it and being friends with lots of people involved with it. He’s just confused.
I knew almost zero about Weinstein going in, just that he's Intellectual Dark Web associated. Have followed O'Keefe and Veritas for a while and like them.
It did seem like most of the podcast was just Weinstein repeating that he thinks O'Keefe doesn't need to do the things he does to still get the truth, but O'Keefe keeps refuting his claims. Weinstein also seemed to play to some sympathies at some point by saying something along the lines of O'Keefe should show his audience the moral struggles he goes through to decide which footage to air and how to do it, and O'Keefe seemed to agree with this point. I'm not sure that Weinstein was right about that as, like you said, the audience could just find other excuses to dismiss O'Keefe.
One good thing is that Weinstein has an audience that generally dislikes O'Keefe, so him giving O'Keefe a platform could improve the reach of Veritas and change some people's notions of O'Keefe.
I like O'Keefe's approach to journalism which is essentially facts first, moralizing later (or never). He doesn't push opinions and just releases raw footage and conversations. Weinstein's argument that O'Keefe was following the letter of the law but making people uncomfortable by breaking the spirit of it seemed flawed to me. O'Keefe made good points that it's a rights infringement to prevent someone from writing down what someone else said to them, and it's the exact same thing with a recording. He also explained that he never releases stuff that is needlessly harmful to people and only releases topical footage that the public deserves to see.
I'm curious about what Veritas' team's process is like in terms of vetting footage. O'Keefe mentioned that it costs $1M to air a single story, which was fascinating to hear.