HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) – The conservative activist who videotaped meetings with the national community organizing group ACORN says in court that the hosts of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” defamed him.
James O’Keefe III describes two allegedly defamatory episodes of “Countdown,” one of which was hosted by substitute anchor David Shuster, in the complaint filed in Bergen County Court.
“On February 24, 2012, during the video broadcast of ‘Countdown’ on television, David Shuster, while acting as an employee or other type of agent of Current Media, called Plaintiff James O’Keefe, III a ‘convicted felon,'” the six-page lawsuit states.
“Shuster stated that there is a ‘rape allegation facing … conservative activist… James O’Keefe,’ referring to plaintiff and certain allegations made by Nadia Naffe at a municipal court probable cause hearing in Westwood, New Jersey,” O’Keefe claims.
The complaint says that neither statement is true, but that Current continually rebroadcasts the episode on its website.
With the apparent aim of disproving Shuster’s statement, the lawsuit quotes a municipal court judge telling Naffe that “it’s clear there was nothing that [was] set forth there regarding any striking, shoving, touching or any other threat to do so,” referring to Naffe’s harassment complaint and her sworn statement.
Naffe responded, “That’s correct,” according to the lawsuit.
O’Keefe says Shuster made these statements even though Olbermann described Naffe’s claims differently in a Dec. 22 episode.
“In that discussion, Olbermann and his guest reported that Naffe’s allegations did not include any allegations of physical contact, let alone allegations of rape,” the lawsuit states. “Nevertheless, Olbermann and Current Media encouraged, permitted and endorsed the contrary statements made by Shuster, described above.”
But Olbermann allegedly defamed O’Keefe in the same episode.
“On the December 22, 2011 broadcast of ‘Countdown,’ defendant Olbermann stated: ‘James O’Keefe, activist, pseudo-journalist, and convicted felon infamous for his ambush-style, selectively edited interviews faces a possible civil sexual-harassment suit,’ and; ‘He’s on – O’Keefe that is – federal parole after he was charged with a felony for attempting to maliciously interfere with Senator Landrieu’s office telephone system in New Orleans.'”
O’Keefe says “a pleading filed in the criminal action arising from the incident at Senator Landrieu’s office” proves that he was cleared.
“In this public document, the government specifically states that despite its investigation, it found no evidence tending to show that plaintiff intended to commit any felony or to tamper with the senator’s phone system,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was neither charged with nor convicted of a felony arising from the incident involving Senator Landrieu.”
Federal prosecutors announced in January 2010 that O’Keefe had been arrested and “charged in a criminal complaint with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony.”
The complaint says O’Keefe and alleged co-conspirators tried to enter the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu “while posing as telephone repairmen.”
O’Keefe releases video interviews on his website through his organization, Project Veritas. He says Project Veritas and his videos aim “to investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
Many of the videos have been criticized as heavily edited, including the tape in which O’Keefe and a woman dressed as a prostitute speak with employees at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
O’Keefe says the mischaracterization of him on “Countdown” has hurt him professionally.
“Others have and will continue to refrain from associating with plaintiff personally and professionally due to the actions and statements of the defendants described above,” the complaint states.
O’Keefe is represented by Benjamin Light with Aromando & Light of West Caldwell, N.J. Light also represents O’Keefe in a pending libel lawsuit against the Newark Star Ledger, over its allegedly inaccurate reporting of the Landrieu case.