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James O’Keefe’s New Gonzo Army

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O’Keefe’s Other Role
“It gives us satisfaction / When you take civil action / We’ll go out and attack them / Investigate and hit the ground.” —From “Landrieu Dance,” a music video for which he dressed as shown above  

O’Keefe looks at her a bit blankly. “Well I’m glad you’re … you’re utilizing social media.”

She nods vigorously. “We will be doing that.”

Another woman in another turtleneck shirt (yellow) raises her hand with another non-question. “A place to have a lot of fun is the Washington Post,” she informs the group gleefully. “You can go in there online and comment on all of their articles. And every now and again, I find things like ‘Obama’s living so high on the hog that he needs oxygen’ kind of thing, you know what I mean. I just try to stay to the facts.”

O’Keefe considers this. “I mean, I think that’s good, but you’re still reacting to an existing article. They control the narrative.”

“Well, what I point out is what’s wrong with the article.”

“I would prefer that you write an article, and the Washington Post points out what’s wrong with you. Think revolution for a second.”

The woman does think for a second, maybe two. “But, you know, a lot of people read it, and I see people picking up on things that I have said. Somebody is listening.”

“I’m just—now I’m asking you to take it a step further,” O’Keefe tells her.

“Take it further?”

“Take it even further.”

After his presentation, O’Keefe can be found at a window near the back that looks out over his home state’s highways and warehouses. As a part of his three-year probation, he can't travel without permission from a judge, a U.S. attorney, and a probation officer, he says.* This makes it hard for him to round up his army of citizen watchdogs, though he tells me that, along with continuing to make his videos, it is “definitely one of the more important things that I do.” Not that the law is the only obstacle. “To be a disrupter, to go against the grain—the hardest part for me is just getting them to do that. They’re all 50-plus. They’re always older. Probably the most frustrating thing about what I do is that people who have lived through a lot can identify more, but once you have a family, a house, you’re entrenched.” He pauses. “People in their twenties are going to be more likely to make sacrifices, but they’re just not there yet.”


*This article has been updated to clarify the terms of O'Keefe's probation.


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