But his track record over the past several years has been increasingly embarrassing. Even if you set aside the factual integrity of his reports – and there are those on the Right who believe that ”war by the other side’s rules” means not worrying about such things – and judge O’Keefe strictly on activist terms by the scalps he collects, he’s been startlingly ineffective for several years now at actually damaging any of his targets. Moreover, because he’s handsomely paid for what he’s currently delivering, he seems to have no incentive to actually accomplish anything for the conservative movement besides grabbing headlines for himself. It really would serve the movement if his funders would consider financing someone more effective.

What is particularly noteworthy about the bad judgment O’Keefe displayed in this particular sting is his choice of target and topic. If you want to catch people doing wrong, the secret is to get them when their guard is down. Major media organizations do run shoddy hit jobs on Republicans and conservatives, and they are more likely to do so when nobody thinks they are watching. Instead, O’Keefe chose the one story (sexual predation by Roy Moore) on which Washington Post reporters and editors were least likely to be motivated to run thinly-sourced drivel, and most likely to be on their guard. They were unlikely to be desperate for a story because they had just broken a big one, a campaign-altering scoop that was extensively reported. And they were likely to be wary because Moore’s entire response to the story has been built around discrediting the messenger.