Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Citizen journalist James O’Keefe was subjected to a foul-mouthed tirade last month when he confronted former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten on camera at Louisiana’s Tulane University School of Law, where Letten is an assistant dean.
“You are a nasty, little, cowardly spud,” shouted Letten. “All of you, you’re hobbits. You are less than I can ever tell you. You are scum. Do you understand?”
Letten further blasted O’Keefe as a “snail,” an “a–hole,” an “extremist nut job” and a “horse’s a–.”
O’Keefe, a self-proclaimed “guerilla” journalist, has gained national fame in the last five years by using hidden cameras to expose corruption at Planned Parenthood and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which was federally defunded in large part due to O’Keefe’s reporting.
Letten and O’Keefe have been at odds with one another since 2010, when O’Keefe was arrested and accused of using false pretenses to sneak into the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
As U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Louisiana, Letten briefly led the felony prosecution of O’Keefe, but later recused himself from the case. The charges were eventually lowered to a single misdemeanor for which O’Keefe pleaded guilty.
Letten then resigned his position as U.S. attorney late last year amid a scandal over prosecutors in his office defaming federal targets through anonymous online comments.
O’Keefe maintains Letten in 2010 used similarly unscrupulous means to leak privileged emails to the press to “foment public opinion against Mr. O’Keefe.”
In the confrontational video at Tulane, Letten claims to be upset because O’Keefe and his cameras first visited Letten’s home and “terrorized” his wife.
O’Keefe claims the visit was only to seek out Letten, and that the interaction with his wife was brief and respectful.
But furthermore, O’Keefe claims, the former U.S. attorney’s tirade and use of police enforcers reveals just how much venom the political and academic class holds toward the independent news media.
“While in Louisiana on another investigation, I decided to approach Mr. Letten and question his conduct regarding the criminal case from 2010 – a right I not only have as a citizen, but as a journalist as well,” said O’Keefe in a statement. “But this video is about much more than just Mr. Letten. With the DOJ attempting to jail journalists and the continued discussion about a selectively enforced shield law, the question of what constitutes journalism is now more important than ever.”
Following the confrontation, WVUE-TV in New Orleans report, Tulane police escorted O’Keefe’s group off campus, and the university followed with an order barring the filmmaker from returning.
Video of the confrontation, as edited and released by O’Keefe, can be seen below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following contains several instances of strong and obscene language.