The infamous conservative “investigative journalist” James O'Keefe has released another hit piece on video attempting to discredit yet another non-profit organization, this time it's Enroll America in his crosshairs.
The right wing outrage over the video hinges on two false pretenses: Affordable Care Act navigators are encouraging individuals to lie to the federal government, and that Enroll America and Battleground Texas are working “together.”
Enroll America is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to, “maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act.” Battleground Texas' mission statement is simple, turn Texas into a battleground state. O'Keefe attempts to blur the line by using actors and editing sloppily cutting video clips from various events together. As evident from the screenshot above taken from a rightwing blog, his attempt to confuse the already confused is working. It doesn't help that many who are most susceptible to these fear tactics are ready to believe in almost any conspiracy theory involving President Obama. This blogger apparently believes that “Battle Ground Texas (sic)” is “funded by the feds” to train health care navigators, but then again that was the point of the video, right?
The truth is O'Keefe is a fraud and amatuer impersonator who was arrested and, “charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony. (Huffington Post)”
See the official response from Enroll America and how top Texas Republicans are encouraging O'Keefe below the jump…I communicated with the national press secretary of Enroll America Justin Nisly by email and he released this statement:
“Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on helping Americans enroll in affordable health insurance. We are not a navigator. We do not work with Battleground Texas. This is a misleading video from a repeatedly and comprehensively discredited source.”
According to O'Keefe, “This investigation shows just how vulnerable Obamacare is to fraud,” but of course any institution is open to fraud if you are intentionally trying to defraud it. The Dallas area Urban League where the video was shot has already fired the lady who explicitly recommended lying about one's smoker status, and another 3 who were “in training” have been suspended. Of the thousands of navigators across the country it seems simple enough to coax a few into lying, not to mention the highly suspect editing job. The Urban League has also requested the full video from O'Keefe in order to conduct its own investigation.
This questionable context and possible coercion by O'Keefe seems to be an insignificant detail to the rightwing blogosphere, Fox News and the politicians who drink from that well. Since the video has been posted even top elected officials in Texas have seized on the opportunity to take cheap political shots. According to the Dallas Morning News, “Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said O'Keefe's video vindicates his recent warnings that the Obama administration didn't require sufficient vetting and training of navigators.” And, Senator John Cornyn has called for an end to the navigator program altogether citing the video.
As the DailyKos pointed out George W. Bush used navigators to help with enrollment during the expansion of Medicare. Perhaps most ironic is that one of the organizations who received the grants was ACORN — the previous target of O'Keefe.
Perhaps if Republicans had any advice or plan beyond “defund it” the enrollment process would be going much smoother and the officials involved could concentrate more on efficiently and securely enrolling individuals into the newly available private health care exchanges, instead of fighting perpetual political battles.
O'Keefe and his “Team Varitas” plan to release more video and in time we will see if his supporters are again forced to backtrack. It's safe to say that if Michelle Malkin has to tell you to chill out, just maybe your pants are on fire. In 2010, after O'Keefe was arrested she warned, “Know your limits. Know the law. Don't get carried away. And don't become what you are targeting.”
You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.
Below is misleading video in full:
Correction: This article earlier stated that Bush expanded Medicaid, it was Medicare as corrected.