Friday, January 7, 2022

James O'Keefe, and True Scouts' Honor


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Dear Arthur,

I found my Eagle Scout portrait going through files from the office flood.

JOK Eagle Scout.jpg

Two things occur to me looking at this photo of me taken 20 years ago: 1) The passage of time no longer scares me as it once did; and 2) I often forget how formative Scouting was.

Scouting taught me to do a lot of uncomfortable, necessary things. There were parts of Northwestern New Jersey, both mountainous and remote, where I did all the outdoorsy things like shoot, hunt, navigate, build a shelter, sail a boat, perform CPR, apply a tourniquet, etc. But the most important moment I recall was at my Eagle Scout “Board of Review” conference in January 2003 when the Scoutmaster/Counselor asked me a final question: What do I want to do with my life?

I told him I didn’t know, but I went on a rant about the media.

I recognized that the news media portrayed events much differently than they existed in reality, and I wanted to do something about that — that things were not as they seemed, and seldom as they should be.

The counselor suggested in a serious tone that I should consider journalism.

That was the first and only time anybody ever suggested that, and it stayed with me. A year or so later at 19 years old, I founded the Rutgers Centurion, a monthly magazine. A year or so after that, I started ambushing professors with a video camera, which was an extremely uncomfortable thing for an introvert to do, but like all the other things I learned in the woods, I felt it necessary.

Be Brave,


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