Dallas

He tried to plant fake news in The Washington Post. Now he's coming to SMU

Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, shown here in 2015, is scheduled to speak at SMU on Tuesday night.
Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe, shown here in 2015, is scheduled to speak at SMU on Tuesday night.

The founder of a group linked to a plan to plant fake news in The Washington Post is still scheduled to speak at SMU on Wednesday night.

James O'Keefe, the founder of New York-based Project Veritas, was invited to the campus by the university's Young Americans for Freedom chapter, a conservative student-run organization.

The Washington Post on Monday reported that a woman who had approached Post reporters with false allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was seen walking into the Project Veritas building.

On Tuesday, the SMU Young Americans for Freedom group posted on Facebook that O'Keefe was invited to campus "because his experience in investigative journalism and holding organizations and media outlets accountable makes him noteworthy."

"We view this event as a platform for our peers and Dallas community members to engage in first-hand dialogue with Mr. O'Keefe by hearing his perspective directly, and, if they desire, asking him challenging questions during the Q&A session," the Facebook post said.

Project Veritas runs undercover investigations to "expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud and other misconduct in private and public institutions," according to its website. Many of the group's investigations target mainstream media, such as the Post, The New York Times and CNN.

With the false allegations against Moore, "the intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap," Post editor Marty Baron said in a statement.

Instead, the Post reporters fact-checked the woman's background and linked her to Project Veritas. The reporters on Monday followed her from her home to the group's nearby office.

O'Keefe declined to tell The Post whether the woman worked for Project Veritas.

He tweeted, "The entire media establishment is against Project Veritas," and then posted a series of undercover videos of Post reporters, alleging that the videos proved the newspaper is biased against President Donald Trump.

O'Keefe's planned event at SMU drew criticism Tuesday, with social media users pointing out the irony of O'Keefe lecturing about investigative journalism.

"What's next — Harvey Weinstein teaching a women's studies class?" tweeted Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune.

The event start's at 7 p.m. at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center and is open to the public.

The university released a statement about O'Keefe's speech, saying, "Protection of free speech is bedrock at SMU."

"This speaker was invited to campus by a student organization, and we respect our students' right to do so," the statement said. "Please do not misinterpret our support for that freedom as an indication of official University agreement on any particular issue."

O'Keefe won't be the first controversial speaker to be brought to a North Texas campus by a Young Americans for Freedom group.

Last year, the TCU chapter hosted conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who blasted school officials over "leftist myths" and criticized a group of students that organized a national anthem protest at a football game.

Ryan Osborne: 817-390-7684; Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST

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