“ACORN Pimp” James O’Keefe Attempts Bizarre CNN Stunt

The man best known for staging the "Acorn Pimp" videos is back in the news with an even more bizarre story.

When we last heard from James O’Keefe, the former college student who made his name by attempting to ensnare ACORN workers by posing as a pimp, he had pled guilty to a misdomeanor related charges resulting from another stunt he was apparently attempting pull off at the New Orleans office of Senator Mary Landrieu. Now, it seems, he’s involved in another odd encounter, but this time it didn’t quite go the way he planned:

Lusby, Maryland (CNN) — A conservative activist known for making undercover videos plotted to embarrass a CNN correspondent by recording a meeting on hidden cameras aboard a floating “palace of pleasure” and making sexually suggestive comments, e-mails and a planning document show.

James O’Keefe, best known for hitting the community organizing group ACORN with an undercover video sting, hoped to get CNN Investigative Correspondent Abbie Boudreau onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session, those documents show.

The plan apparently was thwarted after Boudreau was warned minutes before it was supposed to happen.

“I never intended to become part of the story,” Boudreau said. “But things suddenly took a very strange turn.”

And O”Keefe’s plan itself was bizarre, and a quite honestly a little creepy:

For months, CNN had been following a group of young conservative activists, including Christian Hartsock, the director of the music video. The activists will be featured in a documentary, “Right On The Edge,” that will air October 2 and 3.

Hartsock said O’Keefe did not want CNN to shoot on the set of the music video, but said he would encourage O’Keefe to call CNN to discuss the request.

O’Keefe called Boudreau on August 10. During the conversation, he said he preferred that Boudreau meet him in person in Maryland and asked that she come alone.

“I just want to talk,” O’Keefe told Boudreau on the phone. “I just want to have a, you know, meeting with you, and talk to you face to face about this. Because, I don’t, I feel sort of, let’s just say reserved about, about letting people into my sort of inner sanctum, about letting, letting people sort of take a glimpse into, into, behind the scenes, so that’s why you know, I just feel more comfortable if it was just me and you and we just had a face-to-face meeting before I agree to, to let you guys come out and shoot the video shoot out there.”


When Boudreau arrived at the address, a house located on a tributary of the Patuxent River, Santa approached her with a tape recorder in her hand and said she wanted to talk in the car, Boudreau said.

“I noticed she had a little bit of dirt on her face, her lip was shaking, she seemed really uncomfortable and I asked her if she was OK,” Boudreau said. “The first thing she basically said to me was, ‘I’m not recording you, I’m not recording you. Are you recording me?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not recording you,’ and she showed me her digital recorder and it was not recording.”

Santa told Boudreau that O’Keefe planned to “punk” her by getting on a boat where hidden cameras were set up. Boudreau said she would not get on the boat and asked Santa why O’Keefe wanted her there.

“Izzy told me that James was going to be dressed up and have strawberries and champagne on the boat, and he was going to hit on me the whole time,” Boudreau said.

And, it gets even weirder as Boudreau discovered when Santa gave her an internal document describing what O’Keefe had planned:

According to the document, O’Keefe was to record a video of the following script before Boudreau arrived: “My name is James. I work in video activism and journalism. I’ve been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort….

“Instead, I’ve decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I’m going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I’m going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.

“Please sit back and enjoy the show.”


The document discusses the potential fallout from the operation.

“If they pursue this as you are a creep, you should play it up with them initially only to reveal that the tape was made beforehand confirming this was a gag,” the document states. “If they [CNN] admit it was a gag, you should release the footage and focus on the fact they got punked, and make sure to emphasize Abbie’s name and overall status to help burden her career with this video, incident and her bad judgment in pursuing you so aggressively.”

There are many on the right for whom O’Keefe has become some kind of bizarre folk hero thanks to the ACORN videos — which, incidentally, did not result in a single arrest or indictment — but his actions since then have been, to put it nicely, odd. The Landrieu stunt was apparently intended to address claims by some that her Senate office was not answering phone calls from opponents of health care reform, but it ended up resulting in actions that violated the law. A few months ago, he came out with a video that essentially provided the rather obvious conclusion that government workers cheat on their time cards every now and then. And now there’s this.

As always there are two sides to every story, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what the point of pulling a Borat-like stunt on a CNN reporter actually is. Unless it’s to get your name on CNN, that is.

FILED UNDER: Media, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    “…they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional…”

    Dodged that bullet!!

  2. mantis says:

    How come so many of the heroes of the right these days turn out to be lying grifter weirdos with fevered dreams of fame?

    Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.

    — Emile Durkheim

  3. Jay Tea says:

    lying grifter weirdos with fevered dreams of fame…

    mantis, I’ll thank you to speak more respectfully of the President of the United States.


  4. mantis says:

    Jay, you’re almost as clever as my pet fish, and he’s been dead since I was twelve. Is that what passes for witticism these days in your world?

  5. Pug says:

    How come so many of the heroes of the right these days turn out to be lying grifter weirdos with fevered dreams of fame?

    Because all it takes to be a Fox News hero is an agenda and some doctored video tape.

  6. DC Loser says:

    O’Keefe’s secret life ambition is to be – A PIMP!

  7. steve says:

    They edited and altered the ACORN tapes for effect. Not sure why this guy has any credibility.


  8. Alex Knapp says:

    People, you guys are missing the real story here.

    After O’Keefe destroyed the diabolical organization known as ACORN, which was founded by Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, and Barack Obama’s real father, Malcolm X, Ayers was out for revenge. Knowing that O’Keefe regularly drinks tap water, which is brimming with flouride, Ayers used a mind control device he obtained from the Soviet Union in the 60s (when he was working for them) on O’Keefe. The device only works if someone drinks flouridated water–which is why the Commies subverted the government to get flouride into the water. The mind control device forces O’Keefe to behave so bizarrely in order to discredit him, so that Ayers can rebuild ACORN from the ground up. Only this time, it will be even stronger, because Ayers knows he can guarantee the President’s support–after all, it’s well known that Bill Ayers has the ORIGINAL COPY of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, which makes it clear that he was born in Austria of the illegitimate daughter of Eva Braun and Hitler, as part of a neo-Nazi scheme to take over the world and make it safe for Communism and Kenyan Anti-Colonialism.

    The only way we can stop this scheme is to provide all the financial support we can to O’Keefe’s legal team.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Mantis, no need to thank me. I wrote Jay Tea after they flushed the toilet of you at Wizbang. The sewer line broke over here at OTB. Guess some sh*t just keeps popping up. Like they say, same sh*t different place.
    Once again we are attacking the messenger. I guess Doug advocated the support of under age prostitution. ACORN did. ACORN supports voter fraud and has ties to Marxist groups (the New Party). I guess if you are a one trick pony, that is all you’ve got. Doug. Do you only know rules 5 and 13?

  10. Herb says:

    The Jackass Journalist strikes again. “I’m James O’Keefe and this is the CNN Love Trap.”

  11. Herb says:

    “I guess Doug advocated the support of under age prostitution.”

    Zels, you truly are a weird bird, my man. I wonder: Where, oh, where did you get that idea? Is it written on the walls of your anal cavity? How can you even read it? You’re sticking a flashlight up there too? Pull your head out — and the flashlight– wipe the goo from your eyes, and for God’s sake, open them.

  12. mantis says:

    Mantis, no need to thank me. I wrote Jay Tea after they flushed the toilet of you at Wizbang.

    Once again, moron, I was not banned from Wizbang. I decided to stop posting there when all remnants of sanity and good taste left the place. Here’s Jay Tea in July explaining that I wasn’t banned, long after I had stopped posting there.

    One does wonder if Jay will put up another post about spotting me at another blog, again drawing a bunch of silly and unsupported conclusions about me. He’s got a weird sort of jilted girlfriend vibe about him that way.

    If you’re reading this Jay, don’t worry baby, you’ll always be special to me. It was just time to move on. You’ll find another random commenter someday.

  13. Janis Gore says:

    Can someone explain to me what the escapade was supposed to accomplish? I’m confused .

    Sorry, kid, but you aren’t Pierce Brosnan.

  14. Steve Plunk says:

    O’Keefe is hardly a hero to conservatives. He did expose ACORN as a corrupt organization and deserves credit for that but he’s no hero.

    So what we have on our hands is a young man trying to ‘punk’ a news agency that turned around and punked him. Hardly newsworthy yet evidence the Left is scrapping the bottom of the barrel for whatever scandals they might find.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    To such has the Republican party been reduced. Idiots, Scammers and Exhibitionists are the new idols of the Grand Old Party of the Republic.

  16. wr says:

    Steve Plunk — Masterful! This creep tries to sexually humiliate the CNN reporter, it blows up in his face… and it makes the Left look bad! Truly, there is nothing you can’t use to further your own cause.

  17. Steve Plunk says:

    wr, If the Left wants to make an issue out of this then yes, it does make them look bad. Read the previous posts and you can see they are indeed scrapping the bottom of the barrel. They are trying to make this more than it is since that’s all they got. O’Keefe is not the Republican party, he’s not a conservative hero. he’s not much of anything except for his success with ACORN. He’s trying to maintain his fame and had failed. It doesn’t reflect the Republican party which is soon to have electoral victories.

    The Dems seem to be saying ‘look at this kid’ so we don’t look at Congress adjourning before a budget is passed, tax rate extensions are debated, or ethics hearings conducted. It’s misdirection that we should not fall for. And to make it worse we only have one reporter’s claims to substantiate the incident. It’s not newsworthy.

  18. mantis says:

    O’Keefe is hardly a hero to conservatives.

    No? Hmmm…

    And that doesn’t even include conservative blogs. You can find any number of posts on PJM, Instapundit, Hot Air, Malkin, etc., talking about how awesome he is.

  19. mantis says:

    If the Left wants to make an issue out of this then yes, it does make them look bad

    If a prominent figure on the right does something ridiculous/criminal/obscene, it doesn’t matter at all. “It’s not newsworthy.” If the left says anything about it, that makes the left look bad. Got it. Thanks for clearing that up.

  20. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steve Plunk says:
    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 16:23

    “The Dems seem to be saying ‘look at this kid’”

    “And to make it worse we only have one reporter’s claims to substantiate the incident.”

    This guy is under 16 is he then? Actually the people who seem to be saying most loudly “look at this slimeball and his paymasters at Fox News” are CNN who aren’t going to let this drop for a few days I suspect. This twit who seems to excite your slavish admiration is playing out of his league. And btw you’re out to date CNN have got possession of a load of emails and other evidence against this little twerp.

  21. reid says:

    wr, not to mention that O’Keefe DIDN’T expose ACORN as a corrupt organization as Steve claims, and he deserves absolutely no credit for that stunt. So far, O’Keefe only deserves credit for being a Breitbart Jr, a completely unscrupulous sleazebag.

  22. mantis says:

    Joe, didn’t you hear? It’s not newsworthy. Steve said so. You only make yourself look bad by talking about it. Stop talking about it right now!

  23. wr says:

    Reid — Preaching to the choir here, my friend.

  24. Janis Gore says:

    O’Keefe must have been drinking too much Schnapps.

    I still don’t understand how her entering a manufactured sex lair is a compromise. He comes onto her, she backhands him a good one, calls him a toad and leaves. How does that hurt her?

  25. Herb says:

    I love how Steve Plunk brings “the Left” into it.

    To review: Abby Boudreau, a CNN reporter, is making a documentary on young conservatives. James O’Keefe tries to seduce her in some kind of failed prank. And Steve Plunk says, “If the Left wants to make an issue out of this then yes, it does make them look bad.” Gimme a break.

    The only one who looks bad here is James O’Keefe.

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Stop talking about it right now!”

    Better tell Doug to shut down this thread. In and of itself this is chickenshit but it’s symptomatic of where we’ve got to as are zombie like dismissals and rationalisations. I’d say the same think if he’d tried the same stunt on Michelle Bachman. It’s deeply sleazy.

  27. sam says:


    ” And to make it worse we only have one reporter’s claims to substantiate the incident.”

    Ah for Christ’s sake, Plunk, CNN has internal emails and a document from the creep’s organization to substantiate the charge. Moreover,

    [Izzy] Santa’s attorney, Christopher Markham, told CNN that Santa “didn’t want what could have happened to occur. She thought it may have been a threat to the organization, and didn’t want it to happen to [Boudreau].”

    Read the story that Doug cites. You’re pathetic.

    Here, http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/29/okeefe.cnn.prank/

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    I still don’t understand how her entering a manufactured sex lair is a compromise. He comes onto her, she backhands him a good one, calls him a toad and leaves. How does that hurt her?

    Good question. The only way the plan makes any sense is if O’Keefe sees himself as so irresistible that Boudreau would say yes to his advances. Or maybe he pictures her saying yes because she wants the story so bad. Either way, he’s a nut.

  29. Janis Gore says:

    “Irate female CNN reporter abuses poor Republican activist.” I can see that.

  30. Janis Gore says:

    O’Keefe quote: “I just suggested that she make herself comfortable.”

  31. Sirkowski says:

    Guy sounds like a rapist.

  32. Nikki says:

    “I still don’t understand how her entering a manufactured sex lair is a compromise.”

    John Cole explains:


  33. Janis Gore says:

    Thre’s something to that, Nikki.

  34. anjin-san says:

    > O’Keefe is hardly a hero to conservatives.

    And you wonder why you are often not taken seriously. The right wing media broke out the kneepads for this guy, and it is very well documented.

  35. sam says:

    Tbogg limns the sad, sad denouement of this deeply troubling affair:

    Andrew Breitbart No Longer Manloves James O’Keefe

    It seems like it wasn’t so long ago that Andrew Breitbart was “pallin’ around” with James O’Keefe doing guy things like whoring out Motel Messiah Doug Giles’ daughter to catch negroes, because that is what best buds do when they’re not playing drinking games until one of them passes out and then the other uses a Sharpie to draw a penis on his face. If you are unaware of this man ritual , it is because you were never an Eagle Scout.

    Like James O’Keefe.

    Anyway, later on when James got a little stupider than usual and was caught playing Junior Watergate v.2010 at Mary Landrieu’s office, Brietbart still stuck up for him and provided him a soapbox because, hey, if you don’t stand up for your buddies when they’re caught fvcking the cow, well what kind of friend are you, huh? Hunh?

    But then this morning Andrew learned that James was going to put on a smoking jacket, splash on a little eau de Rohypnol (by Prince Matchabelli), maybe play a little Careless Whisper or Everybody Have Fun Tonight (Everybody Wang Chung Tonight) and go all It Ain’t The Meat, It’s The Motion of the Ocean on some CNN journoharlot aboard his private fancy dildo yacht: The Lubesitania.

    Without inviting Andrew!

    Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway because I am helpful that way, this went well past “fvcking the cow” territory and into the “fvcking the cow and then proposing a three-way with the sheep” hinterlands, and so, this very night, before the rooster crows, you Andrew will deny three times that you he even know(s) me James. And any inference that Andrew does may be actionable.

    Somewhere the angels of the right are weeping.

  36. jukeboxgrad says:

    John Cole explains

    NIkki, thanks. That’s a sharp analysis by Cole, as usual.

  37. Janis Gore says:

    Here’s an interview with Ben Wetmore, the man behind the script:


  38. davod says:

    Sam: Who is Tbog.

    Here is part of the text of the Esquire article:

    “ESQUIRE: Broadly speaking, what’s your reaction to CNN’s report?

    BEN WETMORE: There are things they’re spinning, and there’s further context they aren’t adding. They know the document wasn’t final. If CNN wants to write stories about every idea on my laptop, it’ll keep them busy for awhile.

    ESQ: But the stunt was aborted “minutes before it was supposed to happen.”

    BW: I wasn’t there during the meeting with Boudreau, but the document was never intended as a final plan. This is a brainstorming issue, combined with an event that didn’t happen, so it’s all speculation about how things would’ve happened. Everybody expects that it would’ve played out just like in the initial framing.

    ESQ: People are accusing you of misogyny and worse. What did you hope to achieve?

    BW: It was humor. There was a joke to it — James isn’t a lothario of sexual conquest at all. It was going to be awkward, not sexually aggressive. It was meant to be outlandish and ridiculous. When you dissect and sterilize a joke, it’s not funny anymore — when you read the transcript of an SNL skit, you’re not going to laugh, but you do when it’s performed. It seems one way in print, but the video would’ve looked very different.

    I could get very anxious about whatever the blogs are saying, but it’s entertaining. It adds a little spice to life. At the end of the day, this stuff is fun.

    ESQ: But your work is political. Was there an ideological point to this? Are you trying to be a Daily Show of the right?

    BW: It was a comment on CNN’s methods — how they get stories versus how those stories turn out. In the grander scheme, the overall story that’s unfolding is somewhat ironic. And there isn’t an antecedent we’re trying to replicate. James is doing his own thing. … I may give him some ideas from time to time, but he’s his own man and mind.

    ESQ: The conservative establishment isn’t happy about this scandal.

    BW: Name a conservative issue that’s been passed in the last fifty years without provocation. Conservatives are deficient on tactics, so of course this is their reaction. But it’s like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — was it a better movie because they were outgunned and no one came to their aid? Yeah.

    ESQ: If you could do it again, would the plan have been to hit on a male journalist instead? Seems like people would’ve just laughed about someone trying to get Wolf Blitzer in bed.

    BW: That’s a good point and a good angle. But [Boudreau] is a hard-boiled reporter — she’s capable of handling her own.”

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/james-okeefe-cnn-scandal-093010#ixzz117OfCbK5

  39. Janis Gore says:

    Not good enough. Explain it to me.

  40. Hank Chase says:

    James ” I’m On A Boat” O’Keefe

    Hero of the right