HAS JAMES O’KEEFE JUST BEEN STABBED IN THE BACK? IF SO, WHODUNNIT? (WAS IT PFIZER?)
by Mike Bee
Journalism is reporting things powerful people want kept hidden for the wrong reasons. … As journalists, we’re the custodians of the public’s conscience. And as we’ve gone deeper and deeper illuminating corruption, … the line separating good and evil, becomes more clear, not just in the institutions we investigate but within one another.
Project Veritas is known for the vital role it plays in exposing corruption. Relentlessly – often with humour, always with integrity – Project Veritas journalists with hidden cameras have popped up in unexpected places and allowed those acting against the public to expose themselves in their own words.
Just recently they hit the jackpot when an undercover journalist recorded a director of Pfizer saying that his company was doing research on virus modification. It created a huge stir, had 50 million views worldwide – yes, FIFTY MILLION! – and caused Project Veritas’ social media engagement to explode tenfold.
So when IN THE SAME WEEK the Board of Veritas suddenly placed its director, James O’Keefe – the one who built this organization up from nothing at great cost to himself – on unpaid leave and took away his authority to make decisions for the company, it was logical for people to conclude that someone on Pfizer must have got to that Board and demanded James’ head.
No, said the Executive Director on behalf of the Board, James had not been removed from Project Veritas – he’d been under stress because of the allegations of staff made against him and had merely been encouraged to take a vacation for the good of his health. And this must have been true because, “At Project Veritas we believe in radical transparency coupled with respect, empathy and honesty.”
The whole statement left one wondering what James himself had to say on the matter. Well, we need wonder no more, for we have now been given an extraordinary video of James speaking to employees of the company just before he gathers up his possessions and leaves the building for ever. It can be seen at https://vimeo.com/800604525/fe482c1859 and, although it takes some time to watch, it is as illuminating as anything ever seen on one of Veritas’ own dark-to-light videos.
James quotes Solzhenitsyn:
The line that separates good and evil passes not through the states nor classes nor political parties but right through every single human heart.
The Board of Veritas is composed of former company donors and supporters who were loyal to James. What would make them turn against him? Legal threats from Pfizer? Bribes? Personal ambition or vindicative feelings against the company’s founder? Or has James really done something that makes it necessary for the Board to act? James claims not to know, and suggests to his employees that they find out. And he gives an amazing account of what he has witnessed going on behind closed doors, with everything in his story, so he says, backed up by recordings and documents to show its truth.
For James, this was a time in which he lost eight pounds and couldn’t sleep for five days – a time in which he was confronted with “glimpses of heaven and hell”. He also speaks in this address to employees about the first days of Veritas – how breaking one story caused him to be investigated and held under house arrest by the FBI, without money and without followers, with officers coming to his place to check on him regularly. He admits he is driven by the need to get things done and prefers not to get personal with his employees, but speaks movingly of the support that has overwhelmed him over this time and the way it has caused him to realise the great love and high regard that he has for so many of those who work for him.
Although it was obvious that the video would be leaked, it was not made not for the public but for the employees who came in on a day of holiday to hear him speak before he left. A viewer can piece together events, although the motive of the Board for doing what it did always remains hidden.
So what are the facts from James’ point of view? There had been conflict with one Veritas employee who had said he would resign if James didn’t change his policy regarding fund-raising. Apart from that, he had been carrying on at Veritas as he had always carried on, and the only thing that was different was the enormous success of the Pfizer story.
Getting rid of someone like James O’Keefe was never going to be easy. To many supporters and funders, James is Veritas and they have complete loyalty to him. From the video, it seems as if the Board had been trying everything. At one point a Board member sent a text to an employee telling him that, “You get a raise if there is a restructure without James O’Keefe.” And then, in James’ words, “The Board member deleted the text message but not before our journalist took screen shots. Good job, journalist!”
On February 16th James proposed to the Board that they all resign and a new Board be appointed who had loyalty to the organization instead of a will to destroy it. No one responded and James decided that, unable to exercise any kind of leadership for the company himself, it was time for him to leave.
Is this the end of Project Veritas? Perhaps, for it is very hard to imagine it without James O’Keefe. But James makes it clear that for him the work will go on. He will be leaving but employees know how to get in touch with him. Donors also will hardly be likely to go on giving money when such things have happened, but if James founds something else they will surely send their funds to him.
While writing this article, a statement was made by the Board. They emphasize James’ financial malfeasance, giving a number of examples, and state:
We could not allow for our donors to send us money and have it be misappropriated in such a way. We love our supporters, and we would never sit idly by as money is being used for matters that are not mission related.
The different accounts are not reconcilable. The spokesman for the Board says they are doing everything they can to talk to James; James says he was forced to listen to six-and-a-half hours of grievances against him and given ten seconds to reply. The Board has asked the public to wait for a resolution of the situation through “a fulsome investigation and clarity which will need to be provided by a third party investigative audit report.” (Let’s hope the auditor does not work for Pfizer!)
At this moment, we simply do not have all the facts, and it is not clear why the Board of Veritas turned against James. James says he doesn’t know himself and invites his journalist employees to find out.
What is clear is that there is tremendous loyalty for James from supporters, employees and funders. Immediately after his video broke, two screengrabs of Project Veritas support showed that the number of followers had dropped by 6,000 in one minute 23 seconds. And over a longer period that day, the number of Twitter followers went down 200,000.
His final statement in the video was defiant:
The only way to defeat us is if they take our spirit. And from the looks of things many of us remain completely undefeated and unbroken. … Our mission continues on. The mission will perhaps take on a new name, and it may be no longer called Project Veritas. I’ll need a bunch of people around me and I’ll make sure you know how to find me.”
Pfizer directors would be unwise to crack open the champagne just yet!