James O’Keefe’s Fraud Charges Fizzled in Maine

If Maine is any indication, James O’Keefe’s fizzle is going flat.  

O’Keefe has made it his business to put together “sting” videos around the country.

On August 11, 2011, two conservative advocacy groups held a press conference where they showed a two minute clip from a longer video which, they claimed was “shocking” in what it revealed about “potential fraud.” Clearly they hoped it would stun Maine politics and policy.

But a funny thing happened. Rather than creating massive outrage, questions were turned toward those who created the video and showed the small segment at the press conference.  These questions arose after it was noticed that the brief clip pained a different picture than the full video.

Two days after the press conference, one reporter wrote

The conservative advocacy groups behind the secretly recorded interview at the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday defended their decision to aggressively promote the video despite criticism that it is designed to mislead the public about the occurrence of welfare fraud.

And the major Maine papers were not impressed by the sting.  The Bangor Daily News concluded, “This sting had more buzz than bite,” and  the Portland Press Herald contended,

Gov. LePage was smart enough not to tie the credibility of his argument to this immature stunt. Too bad everyone wasn’t wise enough to stay out of the “Candid Camera” trap.

Even the discussion at the conservative As Maine Goes was rather subdued overall, with comments like this:

 I am sure the additional training resulting from the video will be useful to everyone. There has to be a better way to streamline the interview process, so the workers aren’t wasting valuable staff time.

Has O’Keefe’s time gone? What does this do to the credibility of the groups which introduced the clip and the story? Will the Maine media take more care when those groups push stories in the future? 

Nationally this fizzle hasn’t been noticed — yet. If it is, perhaps O’Keefe won’t find it so easy to push his carefully edited tapes elsewhere.



Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.