Interviewing James O’Keefe About His New Book, “Breakthrough”

0 139

Written By : John Hawkins
July 8, 2013


I’m a great admirer of the work done by James O’Keefe and when I heard he had a new book out, Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy, I couldn’t wait to do an interview with him.

James-OKeefeWhat follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Now, I’ve met you in person several times and one of the things I find interesting is that given what you do, you’d expect someone who has a really loud, outgoing, flashy personality. Of course, you’re polite and friendly when people want to talk to you, but you also seem to be very quiet and give off the impression you’d probably be happy to walk in and out of a room without anyone recognizing you or knowing you were there. Given that, how did you end up getting in such a controversial, high profile field?

Well, I flip a switch and get into character in order to do types of investigations that I do and I think the same thing applies across the spectrum for all of my colleagues. It’s not natural for us to be merry pranksters or investigative people. We just have the willpower to get the job done and sort of force ourselves to do what is necessary to expose these people. It’s certainly not comfortable for us to do it. But I think that’s the – message in my new book Breakthrough is that ordinary citizens have to take it upon themselves to get the job done. It’s not going to be comfortable. You’re not going to necessarily enjoy the feeling, but it’s what’s required of you.

In college, you were a bit of a rabble rouser. Paul Robeson was treated like a hero at your school even though he was a diehard commie who supported Stalin. You put out an alternative paper with his face on it that said “Glory to Stalin” after the school paper had talked him up. Students burned your paper, stuffed them in garbage cans — and then they bring you in to warn you to be more respectful to people. Do you think that’s just a very typical experience at colleges? What do you think about that?

This was my first lesson in soft tyranny. I sat next to one of the deans at Rutgers and she looked me right in the eye and leaned over and said, “James, this paper needs to be more respectful. A respectable journalist doesn’t muckety, muckety things up.”

Read the rest of this exclusive interview at

You might also like

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.