Greg Marx, the assistant editor of Columbia Journalism Review, is planning to write on the O’Keefe affair. Marx emailed me today about my reporting. Citing the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel’s characterization of his discussion with Isis, Marx wrote me:
I was unable to get ahold of Isis, but Dave Weigel did, and here’s what he writes: “Isis told me: ‘I don’t believe O’Keefe planned the event.’”
Based on this information, I continue not to see support for your published statement that “Together, O’Keefe and Epstein planned an event in August 2006 that would wed their extreme views on race with their ambitions.”
Marx told me he “was unable to get ahold of Isis,” but Isis told me that he made not attempt to call her. He could have easily have obtained her contact information from me or Daryle Jenkins, the founder of One People’s Project. But Marx did not do so. I urged Marx in a subsequent email not to rely on a vague characterization of Isis’ remarks and instead to quote from my interview. After all, Weigel was never a source for my story.
UPDATE: Marx claimed he had attempted to contact Isis through Daryle Jenkins. Jenkins told me, “That’s a lie!” Jenkins went on: “I told him to email me his contact information so I could pass it on to Isis. He never did. He never emailed me.” Marx confirmed to me that he never emailed his contact info to Jenkins. He claimed he spelled out his email to Jenkins on the phone. “We had a miscommunication,” Marx told me.
UPDATE #2: The Columbia Journalism Review has provided me with an audio file of Marx’s conversation with Jenkins in which Marx asked to be put in contact with Isis. Jenkins told Marx that Isis first wanted confirmation that he was from a “legitimate” news source, since Jenkins seemed unclear about which outlet Marx was from — he asked if he was from “Columbia Law Review.” Jenkins said, “Do you have an email from Columbia Journalism Review because she [Isis] does tend to be a little apprehensive about speaking to folks.” Marx did not have a CJR email but verbally provided Jenkins with his columbia.edu email, stating that he was formerly student at Columbia Journalism School. Jenkins confirmed receipt of the email. I’ll be speaking to Jenkins to get his account of what happened next.
For the record, though Marx has spoken to me and said he was reporting on sources in my story, he did not ask me for Isis’ contact info until today, when I initially reported her statement that he never called or emailed her. The original post continues below:
After Marx’s email, I followed up with Isis. She told me in no uncertain terms that she had witnessed O’Keefe engaged in the “execution” of the white nationalist event of the Robert Taft Club.
“What I told Weigel and what I told him to quote me as saying, is that O’Keefe was involved the same way you would be involved if you went to a party and you put out the cups and stocked the cooler,” Isis told me. “He was helping Marcus Epstein in the execution of the event so I don’t see what the issue is. It was obvious that he was there supporting the event and was involved in its execution.”
Isis added more about her discussion with Weigel. “I told him the same thing I told you,” she remarked to me. “O’Keefe and Luke Pelican and the Leadership guys helped Epstein because they were friends with Marcus [Epstein], and they are friends with him because they agree with his views on the race stuff. And I told him when O’Keefe got there he was helping Marcus set the event up. Nitpicking over where he sat is bullshit. I mean, enough is enough. They were there; they were helping out with the event and they can’t deny that.”
Isis also told me that Weigel told her that Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing blogger who has had O’Keefe on his payroll, ” was acting like a fucking nutcase.”