Last week, the first two videos released by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas exposed how a now apparently former New York Times employee colluded with the biggest players in social media and online video to favor its content over others.
The videos drove a furious Dean Baquet, the paper's executive editor, to criticize that employee and O'Keefe using, of all things, religious terms — "venial" and "mortal" sins, respectively — rarely used outside of a Catholic church, school, or home. How ironic, given that the Times routinely ridicules and marginalizes mainstream Judeo-Christian faiths and their followers.
O'Keefe's first video on Tuesday, October 10, centered on a Times employee named Nick Dudich, whom O'Keefe described as the paper's Audience Strategy Editor for video.
Baquet has tried to portray Dudich as so utterly unimportant that he never even met him. Maybe Baquet and Dudich never met, but O'Keefe got Dudich's job title correct, and in the digital age, that position appears to be vitally important.
We also know that O'Keefe got it right. Unfortunately for the Times, which has done all it can to erase any evidence of the apparently now-fired Dudich's very existence, I found his name and job title as it was described at his LinkedIn page before it was deleted smack dab at the top of a Google search on his name late Tuesday evening:
Ironically, the Times has since early August had a LinkedIn ad for an Audience Strategy Editor which seems to describe much of what Dudich did. That would appear to indicate that the paper was looking to pour additional resources into what Baquet wants people to believe is a quite unimportant effort.
For such a supposedly unimportant guy with no influence, Dudich made some rather startling and troubling admissions and claims during the course of O'Keefe's first video. Among them:
- "My imprint is on every video we do."
- He claimed that former FBI Director James Comey "is my godfather." (After O'Keefe's journalists debunked this claim, Dudich said that he made it because it was a "good story.")
- "Any video that goes on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, I have a hand in that."
- Before becoming employed at the Times, he says he worked on the Obama presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and was a volunteer video strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.
- He has a deep-seated, unhinged hatred of President Donald Trump, believing that the way to force him to resign from the presidency would be to "ruin" the Trumps' businesses, because Trump "cares more about his business than he cares about being President."
- He claimed to have been an "antifa punk once upon a time."
Given his proven fibs relating to Comey, it would be reasonable for viewers to believe that Dudich is either an unbalanced person prone to self-aggrandizement, or that he was playing head games with PV's female journalist, perhaps having figured out at some point that she was working undercover.
The problem with those theories, at least in regards to Dudich's media influence, is that O'Keefe's people, in the second video in the series released on October 12, were able to show, in undercover interviews with Dudich himself and at least one other person in a key Silicon Valley content gatekeeping position, that his abilities to prominently or not prominently place Times videos on key platforms like YouTube and Facebook were very real. O'Keefe describes Dudich as being able to "manipulate the country's largest social media networks," and his undercover reporters found evidence to support that claim.
Dudich bragged, "As an editor, I'm a gateleeper, so I can choose what goes out and what doesn't go out," and then provided two examples. The first: "Let's say something (from the Times) ends up on the YouTube front page ... it's just because my friends curate the front page." The second: "We (the Times) just did a video about Facebook negatively, and I chose to put it in a (YouTube) spot that I knew wouldn't do well."
O'Keefe correctly noted that Dudich's de facto burial of that second Times video, which expressed deep concern about how Facebook is exercising control over what users see using its own non-transparent rules and secret algorithms — a very real issue which should concern everyone — worked against the interests of his own paper's journalists and the people who pay him.
The reason for Dudich's pro-Facebook agenda is personal. Dudich has friends all over Silicon Valley — friendships that are well worth protecting.
... according to Dudich, YouTube has gatekeepers, gatekeepers that can and have given preferential treatment to the New York Times content.
O'Keefe's people got some names of those friends at other companies. One of them, Earnest Pettie at YouTube, admitted that:
... in very rare cases, we will try to make up for the fact that something isn't in the trending (news) tab ... in those cases, we will, like, use some type of intervention to ... encourage the thing to be there.
Translation: YouTube curators can and do influence the visibility of what they think should be the most important news stories and what the most visible sources of information on those stories should be. In the case of the Times, it appears, according to O'Keefe, that Dudich has been allowed to participate in that influencing process to promote stories he likes, and to demote ones he doesn't. More broadly, YouTube considers only certain news sources (you can guess which ones) to be "legitimate," and favors those over others.
As O'Keefe said in his second video wrap:
We now have irrefutable proof that ... (news manipulation) is happening ... on platforms that have almost universal control over the information we have access to ... (and) it's worrisome.
That would appear to be the understatement of the 21st century thus far.
This takes us to last Thursday's "Times Talks" video panel moderated by the paper's Jim Rutenberg — yes, the same guy who wrote during the 2016 presidential campaign that journalists essentially had a duty not to be objective in covering Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Here is Dean Baquet's reaction to O'Keefe's efforts after those first two videos. Given what has been presented above, he could hardly have been more dishonest, disingenuous, or hypocritical:
Key points (transcript here):
- Baquet called O'Keefe "a despicable person who runs a despicable operation." This is coming from a guy who, at age 50, when he was editor at the Los Angeles Times, despicably acted like a spoiled 5 year-old child when he was ordered to implement budget cuts the paper's Tribune Company parent demanded. Instead of resigning in protest or coming up with an alternative plan, things a genuine adult would do, Baquet simply refused to follow orders and dared the Trib to fire him — which it did.
- Baquet's current despicable operation known as the New York Times has made a mockery of its established ethical standards by allowing its reporters to participate in off-the-record events coordinating the launch of Hillary Clinton's campaign, deliberately abandoning objectivity in covering Trump's (as seen above), and creating so much fake news during the past two years that it would take a very thick book to chronicle all of it.
- The best response to Baquet's criticism of PV's "lying and subterfuge" in conducting undercover reporting on the Times and characterizing it as, of all things, a "mortal sin," came in this tweeted PV response directed at another critic:
Tuesday, as if on cue, O'Keefe's third video exposed Desiree Shoe, the paper's London Senior Staff Editor, going after Vice President Mike Pence for being "****ing horrible" because — you guessed it — "He's extremely, extremely religious."
At the Times, the real religion is apparently whatever its leaders want to say is good journalism at any given moment, which, as PV's tweet noted, totally depends on who the target is.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.