O’Keefe, his buddies, and their ugly attitudes about violence against women
Eric Boehlert has an excellent piece up really slamming the mainstream media—including netroots sources like Media Matters—for covering the James O’Keefe ACORN stories without fully delving into how deceitful those videos were. Boehlert focuses on one of the most obvious missteps, which is letting the heavy editing of the video convince you that O’Keefe actually pretended to be a pimp, wearing that outrageous costume. The independent investigation reveals that O’Keefe wore business casual clothing and presented himself as a college student or an ordinary Joe just trying to help a friend. Hannah Giles’ willingness to call herself a prostitute seems shaky at first—she claimed to be a dancer, initially, but then got bolder with her prostitution story—but if you were an ACORN employee who was one of the very few who fell for this (and there were very few), it’s because you didn’t see a pimp and a prostitute, but a prostitute accompanied by a man who acted like her friend.
Boehlert and Brad Friedman have written exhaustively on how misleading the videos were, how they were heavily edited to make it look like employees were answering questions they weren’t actually asked (it seems that a lot of the “tax evasion” stuff was created in editing—employees seem to be talking about strategies to escape an abusive pimp). So read them to get the full extent of that particular angle.
What I want to talk about is the story that O’Keefe and Giles presented, and how it demonstrates what deep down horrible, rotten, broken people they are. They seemed to have variations on this story, but you’ll recognize the basic idea. I took a screenshot from the independent report.
The video implies that the advice about the 13-year-olds was given with the intent of helping a pimp control them. This doesn’t fit the circumstances. In fact, it appears that what happened was that employees were responding to requests on how to get young girls out of sex work, not keep them in.
Now, it’s unclear to me how many of the people who heard this story believed it at all. The woman they focus a lot of energy on in the video was spinning a bunch of lies at them to get them out of there, and fearing for her safety, she locked the door behind them. I don’t blame her; both Giles and O’Keefe creep me out, too, and I’m sure the ill intent was radiating off them. Also, people who think sex trafficking is a joke are scary people. The report indicates that some employees did, despite their suspicions about Giles, try to play along and be kind to her on the off chance she wasn’t full of shit, and they basically told her to reach out to domestic violence shelters to leave the life. In the Baltimore office, Giles presented as a sex worker who wanted out, and the advice was offered by an employee who took pity on her. In Brooklyn, Giles said she needed help buying a house to hide trafficked girls from a pimp; they were skeptical, but gave her information on reaching out to domestic violence shelters. In Miami, Giles once again presented herself as a prostitute under a pimp’s thumb, and once again was sent to a shelter. In this case, Giles seems to have tried to “catch” them not turning in a woman for prostitution that presented herself as a victim of sex slavery. Apparently, Giles and O’Keefe think women trapped in abusive situations deserve jail time.
The lying, the media complicity, the vicious racism of O’Keefe and his buddies have been covered elsewhere. I just want to point out what vicious misogynists they are, too. They went out of their way to turn people’s kindness towards marginalized women into a bad thing. When they encountered decent human beings who take responsibility when asked for help to stop violence against women, they brimmed over with hate for those people, and they set out to destroy them. And while they think kindness towards prostitutes is a weakness, and violence against women is a joke, they exploited the public’s horror at sex trafficking and violence against women to slur people who were the only people in the room who actually had a problem with violence against women.
That is some fucked-up, woman-hating shit.