The Claire McCaskill campaign has been forced to react to a pair of undercover videos produced by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, and kudos to KMBC for covering the story fairly.
As KMBC anchor Haley Harrison reports, “The Missouri Senate race is blowing up over a hidden camera inside Democrat Claire McCaskill’s campaign.” The second of the two videos is the one causing McCaskill most of her headaches. In it several of her staffers blithely talk about how Planned Parenthood conceals its donations to the McCaskill campaign through various cut-outs.
In return, McCaskill is demanding a special prosecutor to investigate a routine journalistic practice, undercover reporting. This is pure bluff. O’Keefe’s organization has been doing this kind of reporting for nearly a decade. They know the laws, and they know how to stay on the right side of them.
McCaskill has also been trying to implicate her opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, in the Project Veritas sting. On Wednesday morning, the Sentinel reported McCaskill saying in a TV interview, “It is startling that Josh Hawley would be part of fraudulently embedding someone in my campaign.”
This charge flirted with slander. Wiser heads apparently pulled McCaskill back. On Wednesday, she told KMBC, “It is startling that Josh Hawley would embrace fraudulently embedding someone in my campaign.” There is a huge difference between “being part of” and “embracing.” Hawley should demand a public apology.
KMBC’s Mike Mahoney reported that O’Keefe “denies there was any coordination with the Hawley campaign.” KMBC then put on screen O’Keefe’s statement that his was a story about how McCaskill “hides her true views from voters to get elected.”
Mahoney also reports that McCaskill’s campaign manager admitted that Planned Parenthood gave the campaign $5,000 and that the campaign “did not hide the donation.”
This legalism does not undo the comments made by several McCaskill campaign workers that other money from Planned Parenthood, in the words of staffer Nicholas Starost, is funneled to the campaign “through, like, different organizations.” Starost added that voters would not see through the subterfuge “unless they go like deep, deep, deep down into a campaign, like finance, which most people just do not.”
The virtue of undercover reporting is that it captures the real thoughts of the people being reported on. McCaskill’s crafted denials compete with the open comments of her staffers.
O’Keefe was still in his early 20’s and working off his credit card when he and a partner brought down the thoroughly corrupt $2 billion ACORN. That community organizing entity was undone by the unfiltered words of its own staff. Any organization that says one thing publicly and another privately is vulnerable.