Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report, Aaron Gulbransen in studio to comment on James O’Keefe’s recent departure from successful Project Veritas.
Leahy: In studio, the official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report, Aaron Gulbransen. Aaron, our good friend Neil W. McCabe, who’s now at One American News Network but was for a couple of years our national political editor at The Tennessee Star broke a story yesterday about the resignation of James O’Keefe as the head of Project Veritas, the organization that he, in essence, kind of created 13 years ago. What do you make of that messy situation?
Gulbransen: First of all, congratulations to Neil for breaking the story. It was a fun period of time to work with him last year, but I think Project Veritas now has sunk. Clearly, the board of directors, or at least a faction of them, had issues with James O’Keefe, who’s a rock star in the conservative movement.
I would ascribe some of those issues to jealousy. I think if you look at some of the claims they’ve been making, you could go to that and go, oh, you mean, so you put on one heck of a show at a previous CPAC event or a few different events. It’s one of those things.
I think Project Veritas as an organization without James O’Keefe is kind of like, I don’t know, I can’t even think of it. It would be like Donald Trump’s organization without Donald Trump. It’s not going anywhere. So there you go.
Leahy: He’s an interesting fellow. And one of the things that I think was very difficult for James O’Keefe, you may recall back in 2010 when he was starting doing these investigations, there was how can we describe this other than a hair-brained scheme by some enthusiastic young folks that were trying to get an undercover video. And they were in New Orleans, and I can’t remember what it was, but they posed as, like, telephone repair people. Remember that?
Gulbransen: I do.
Leahy: And then they were arrested, and everything about it was stupid. And he got involved in that. He was part of those guys. And anyways, an overenthusiastic person kind of talked him into it and it got out of control. Anyways, he ended up pleading no contest to some kind of trespassing thing, and that has haunted him, I think, ever since.
But he’s done some great work. I think the challenge have been, and there are reports that he’s a difficult person to work with. Now in the media world, if you run a media organization, Aaron, as you know, (Laughter) sometimes people who run media organizations who are conservatives have got to be scrappy.
Sometimes they’re difficult to work with. I know that’s hard for you to imagine, having worked previously as a Tennessee Star political reporter here at The Star News Network. I know you can’t imagine that being the case.
Gulbransen: I can’t imagine it whatsoever. (Leahy laughs) In all fairness, whenever you’re working in an enterprise that requires extremely little sleep, which certainly running a media organization is one of those, and political campaigns are the same way. It is taxing.
And I think you could find situations where everybody is fairly difficult. If you were to compare it to a nine to five where you get to leave, and you don’t get to start working until nine, and you’re not thinking of work until nine, and then you leave everything on the table at five.
Leahy: Where does this go now? To me, I think he’s raised like $25 million a year for that. But without him raising money, there is no Project Veritas, in my view. Your thoughts?
Gulbransen: I think they are sunk, and I think he’s going to take the opportunity to reinvent himself again after this. We’ll see what he does. He might hook up with a much larger enterprise. We’ll see.
Leahy: I don’t think so. I think he’s going to do James O’Keefe 2.0. That would be my guess. We’ll see how it all plays out. But he was born to do this kind of thing. But it is difficult to build a conservative media organization in this landscape. That I can tell you from personal experience. You have to be dogged in your effort.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “James O’Keefe” by James O’Keefe.