Conservative gonzo journalist James O'Keefe, who has drawn the ire of liberal critics for his underhanded tactics of capturing interviewees on hidden camera, filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday against political commentator Keith Olbermann, guest host on his show Countdown David Shuster, and their employer Current Media after it was falsely claimed on-air that O'Keefe was a convicted felon and had been accused of rape.
The story was first reported Feb. 29 by the late Andrew Breitbart's conservative news blog BigJournalism, which O'Keefe has contributed to in the past.
The lawsuit indicates that during a Dec. 22, 2011 broadcast, Olbermann referred to O'Keefe as a convicted felon. During a Feb. 24, 2012, broadcast, Shuster, filling in for Olbermann, referred to O'Keefe, repeated the claim and also said he was involved in a rape allegation. Both statements were inaccurate.
The felony claim was referring to a 2010 arrest, when O'Keefe had been caught allegedly trying to tamper with the phones of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Although he received a felony charge for entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent to commit a felony, he was only convicted of a misdemeanor for entering federal property, which he plead guilty to.
The rape allegation was based on a Nov. 21, 2011 harassment complaint filed against O'Keefe by a former colleague Nadia Naffe, who claimed O'Keefe had been verbally abusive after she declined to participate in one of his undercover video projects, but never mentioned rape or any other physical abuse. The case was ultimately dismissed.
The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for damages to O'Keefe's reputation, but the amount was not specified.