CONSERVATIVES are quickly distancing themselves from James O'Keefe, the young political activist they couldn't praise enough a year ago for his damaging expose of the liberal group ACORN.
Now the 25-year-old man is likened to a common burglar, a la Watergate, for allegedly trying to infiltrate U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in New Orleans with some apparent accomplices.
TV talk show host Glenn Beck said if it turns out that Mr. O'Keefe and pals were trying to wiretap the office, which federal authorities have not alleged, it was "insanely stupid."
Federal officials have accused the four suspects of posing as telephone repairmen to tamper with phones at the senator's district office. The four were charged with fraudulently entering a federal building for the purpose of "interfering" with Senator Landrieu's phone system.
The FBI said Mr. O'Keefe admitted to helping plan and coordinate the scheme that allegedly involved two men attempting to manipulate the telephones.
Why the group targeted the office of one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate or what it may have been after is not fully clear. Mr. O'Keefe has said he wanted to check out callers' complaints that they couldn't get through to the senator's office.
But what is clear is that a man who described himself as "a journalist" on Twitter, in a posted statement that also read, "The truth shall set me free," is in legal trouble for what appears to be a stunt that backfired.
What also seems clear is that Mr. O'Keefe is mostly a provocateur whose attention-seeking escapades made him a conservative folk hero. He now faces a felony charge and as much as 10 years in prison.