James O'Keefe and the 'Myth of White Privilege'

Try and imagine that, this weekend, I plan to stage an elaborate “prank.” Because I disagree with her politics, I’m going to coax Ann Coulter out from Connecticut under the pretense that I’d like to interview her. When she arrives, alone, she’s encountered by me and a couple friends, who tell her we’d like to do the interview on a boat. She concedes, probably hesitantly, but off we go.

Once we’re out at sea, far away from land and decent cell service, I pull out dildos, condoms, hardcore porn magazines, handcuffs and a blindfold, and I begin to aggressively hit on Coulter. I compliment her sex appeal and then tell her the thesis of my ruse:  I’m going to screw her like she screws liberals.

Imagine one of my friends is videotaping this, and that, while I don’t physically harm Coulter, I relentlessly pursue this intimate humiliation until I feel like we’ve got all the tape we need for our “joke.”


Two things would happen once we’d returned to shore, with Coulter embarrassed and scared: 1. My friends and I would be rightfully arrested for kidnapping and assault and 2. I’d never find employment ever again.

If this scenario sounds farcical, it’s not. It’s exactly what conservative prankster James O’Keefe—he of the ACORN pimp fiasco—had planned to do to CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau, right down to the “condom jar” and “lube.” In a document he titled “CNN Caper,” O’Keefe says his ultimate goal was to turn the tables on CNN: “Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.”


Get it? He fakes trying to date rape you because you’re more liberal than him.

Thankfully, O’Keefe’s “Caper” failed, due mostly to the fact that one of his female colleagues, Izzy Santa, was disgusted with him and told Boudreau that she shouldn’t get on the boat. Had Santa not been there, who knows what might have happened.


Today, O’Keefe isn’t in jail or facing charges for attempted kidnapping or sexual intimidation. Instead, he remains at the head of Project Veritas, a group he founded in order to, apparently, sexually harass people with whom he disagrees. In fact, right now, he’s still accepting donations to continue his noble work—you can even book him to speak at events.

What really gets me about this story isn’t just the vile misogyny, the outright stupidity or the pathetic attempts at humor; it’s the fact that these conservative white men, who no doubt buy into the laughable notion that white privilege is a myth, didn’t even consider how privileged a person would have to be to even concoct a scheme like this.


Being males, they didn’t think about how scared Boudreau might be while stuck alone at sea and surrounded by strange men showing her pornography. Being white, they didn’t consider—as I had—the justice system’s especially rigid intolerance for crimes involving white women and black men. They simply went for it—and it’s no surprise their plans were thwarted by a woman.

A very basic definition of privilege is being able to do things without considering the consequences. And like natural gas, one of privilege's most dangerous qualities is that it's easy to miss, even if it surrounds you. James O’Keefe does what he wants every day, and yet he still works to destroy organizations like ACORN—which tried to empower minority voters—because they’re “cheating,” and it’s not fair.


What is fair to James O’Keefe? Do you think he considers that on his boat, surrounded by lube?

--Cord Jefferson is a staff writer at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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