Guerrilla filmmaker James O'Keefe returned to Newsmax TV
on Wednesday to defend his latest video — in which he crossed the Rio Grande wearing an Osama bin Laden rubber mask — as a legitimate journalistic exposé of America's unguarded southern border.
"My only interest is in showing people things down there [on the border] that they have not seen. This video accomplished that in spades," O'Keefe, president of Project Veritas, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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"It has gone global," O'Keefe said of the video. "People are talking, discussing and debating those catwalk bridges, that lack of fence, and we need more of that in our Democratic republic. We need more journalists who are muckrakers, who show people things, and my hope is that people do more of this."
The six-minute clip
had more than 539,000 YouTube views as of Wednesday, with "likes" outnumbering "dislikes" at a rate of 7-1.
On Tuesday, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent, Hipolito Acosta
, told Newsmax TV that O'Keefe's film was a "stunt" worthy of "Saturday Night Live," and little more than a guided tour because O'Keefe had a local police escort.
Acosta said O'Keefe ignored the real hardships that Mexicans and Central Americans face in attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. He challenged O'Keefe — who appeared with him on "America's Forum"— to attempt a more realistic, long-distance crossing from deep within Mexico or Guatemala.
O'Keefe told Berliner on Wednesday that Acosta's argument was "a little bit of a non-sequitur."
"The bottom line is, it is easy to cross that river, and we demonstrated that," he said.
O'Keefe defended the escort from the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department in western Texas as a safety measure.
"I felt very scared down there," he said. "It is a war zone. The lack of protection makes it a war zone. In the video, you see me kind of panting, that's because I am literally standing a mile away from potential drug cartels."
O'Keefe, who gained fame by masquerading as a pimp in a hidden-camera sting against the community organization ACORN, said he is using the same journalistic techniques employed by mainstream news media investigations, such as the "To Catch a Predator" segments on "Dateline NBC."
He said that the rubber mask depicting a notorious terrorist, far from cheapening his report, helped it go viral and reach more people. Given the chance to make the video again, he said, "I would have done nothing different."
O'Keefe said his next project will focus on voter fraud. He declined to give more details, citing the need to protect his undercover colleagues.
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