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Tampergate: Fox News misrepresents US attorney recusal from O’Keefe case



Update: Fox News fixed its article sometime early Tuesday morning, but added no correction. Many conservative blogs and websites are still spreading the bogus version (including a new article posted at Breitbart’s Big Government, “The O’Keefe Affair: Obviously a Media Malfunction.”)

“And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 states.


Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism website has spent the last few days cataloging alleged “journalism malpractice” committed by the media in reporting on the arrest of star contributor James O’Keefe and three conservative colleagues for attempting to “interfere” with the telephone system in a Democratic senator’s office. But a Fox News article linked on the site Monday night distorts the latest facts in order to pad a conspiracy theory that Breitbart alleged earlier in the day. And a growing pool of right-leaning bloggers have also glommed onto the false narrative.

Breitbart websites Big Journalism and Big Government link to an article credited only to FoxNews.com.

“The same day the man who first published James O’Keefe’s explosive videos exposing wrongdoing at community organizer ACORN came to his defense Monday, claiming the conservative filmmaker ‘sat in jail for 28 hours without access to an attorney’ while the prosecutor made his case to the media, the U.S. attorney involved stepped down,” the Fox News story incorrectly reports.

O’Keefe, accused of trying to tamper with the phones of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, was “framed” by the media and the U.S. attorney’s office, Andrew Breitbart, publisher of BigGovernment.com, told Fox News Monday.

Hours later, Jim Letten, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, recused himself from the case.

The Department of Justice announced the change in a news release Monday night, but did not say why Letten wanted off the case.

However, a report in Tuesday’s edition of The Times Picayune reveals that Letten recused himself a week before Breitbart made his accusations.


“U.S. Attorney Jim Letten last week decided to remove himself from the prosecution of four young men arrested for trying to tamper with the phones in U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office,” Laura Maggi reports in the article posted at Nola.com.

Maggi’s article continues, “According to a brief news release sent to reporters on Monday evening, Letten decided to recuse himself from the investigation and ‘potential prosecution’ of the men because of ‘various relevant factors.’ These factors, which the release stated were discussed with officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, are not named.”

“The recusal decision came the day after the men were arrested last week and the same day they were released from custody, according to the news release,” Maggi adds.


The Fox News article added,

Jan Maselli Mann, the first assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, declined to talk about specifics of the case, but said there were are no ulterior motives with their case.

“We don’t try cases in the press,” Mann told FoxNews.com. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is motivated by nothing more than what we believe is to mandate and enforce the existing laws that were put in place to ensure the safety and security of federal buildings.”

TPM Muckraker’s Justin Elliott reports,


Breitbart complained that after the news of the arrests broke last Tuesday, O’Keefe’s attorney and Breitbart himself were being called by the media but they could not locate O’Keefe — “and that’s because he was sitting in jail without access to an attorney,” Breitbart said.

He accused the U.S. attorney of leaking information to the media in a “concerted effort” to frame the episode in a way that would put O’Keefe in a bad position.


Interviewed by TPMmuckraker this afternoon, Jan Mann, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said: “The suggestion that he makes about the motivations of our office are untrue. We’re not going to try this case in the press. But we deny the accusations about our office.”

Mann declined to comment on the claim that O’Keefe was denied access to a lawyer.

At the time of publication, blogs such as My Pet Jawa, Hot Air, The Daily Caller, Fire Andrea Mitchell and Another Black Conservative were all sporting posts with links to the bogus Fox News report.

On Monday RAW STORY reported that O’Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government, are cherry-picking news reports to “prove” their case in the media. An examination of the facts reveals that O’Keefe’s statement depends on the same reporter that it later damns for committing “journalistic malpractice.”


Conservatives have a long history of bashing the mainstream press, and sometimes they rely on mainstream press accounts to bash other mainstream press accounts.

“The government has now confirmed what has always been clear: No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu’s office,” O’Keefe wrote in his statement of denial posted last Friday.

In addition, multiple requests for retractions at Breitbart’s Big Journalism website claim that “a law enforcement official has conceded that the four men were not attempting to wiretap or intercept calls.”

But that confirmation only came from an unnamed law official in an MSNBC post written by NBC’s Pete Williams, the same reporter responsible for, as O’Keefe put it, “falsely claim[ing] that I violated a non-existent ‘gag order.’”


“While attorneys typically advise clients after their arrest to keep quiet, Michael Madigan, the Washington attorney representing O’Keefe, said in an e-mail message Friday that the statement ‘was necessary due to the massive misreporting’ of the incident.”

Notably, as Media Matters points out, O’Keefe and Big Government, who has been compiling a list of media outlets that owe apologies and/or retractions, are ignoring conservative outlets like The New York Post and The Corner who committed similar “journalistic malpractice.”

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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2020 Election

Trump can’t attack Kamala Harris without contradicting his own message: Bakari Sellers



On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former South Carolina lawmaker Bakari Sellers broke down why Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) poses such a challenge for President Donald Trump.

"What we're seeing with the two parties is the narrow focus is going to be on the fact that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign have no way, and they do not know how to deal, with Kamala Harris," said Sellers. "It very difficult to say 'Kamala is a cop' and be a 'law and order president.' Those two things simply do not mesh. Not only ahistorical and inaccurate, but the messages, they collide."

"But second, it shows that the Republican Party and Democratic Party are going in two vastly different directions," continued Sellers. "The country is becoming more diverse, the country is becoming more brown. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the demographics of what the country will be, and Donald Trump and Steven Miller and Mike Pence represent a day that's passed. So what I would say tonight is while Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to cheer on the Confederacy, we're trying to re-imagine what this country will look like. It goes back to a time where Americans can feel good about being first and about thinking about what our country can be: full of hope and faith."

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2020 Election

WATCH: Tucker Carlson flips out after guest teaches him how to pronounce ‘Kamala Harris’



Fox News personality Tucker Carlson repeated mispronounced the first name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is Joe Biden's running mate.

"On Fox, Tucker Carlson keeps calling her KAM-uh-luh, which is not how it's pronounced," Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel noted.

He linked to a tweet with a picture of Harris explaining in her memoir how to pronounce her name.

Harris wrote, "my name is pronounced 'comma-la' like the punctuation mark. It means 'lotus flower,' which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom."

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Bishop falsely claims Joe Biden is not a Catholic — and it doesn’t go well for him



On Tuesday, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island attacked former Vice President Joe Biden's faith, claiming that he is not really a Catholic.

Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) August 11, 2020

Biden is a lifelong, practicing Catholic, and he was also on the 2012 ticket, so Tobin's claim doesn't make any sense. But Tobin is an extreme right-wing firebrand with a history of politicizing the church — in 2007 he denied communion to former Rep. Patrick Kennedy for his pro-choice views, and in 2019 he called Gay Pride events "harmful for children" and demanded Catholics not attend them.

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