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CNN: Our Documentary Takes A Strange Detour
-By Abbie Boudreau - CNN Investigative Correspondent
September 29, 2010- I've been a reporter for nine years. My first official day on the job was on 9-11. I was the bureau chief in Dubuque, Iowa, working as a one-man band. I shot my own video, set up my own live shots, and edited my own stories. I would bring home the police scanner to make sure the nights were quiet in this modest town along the grand Mississippi River. Only one time, in my year and two months working there, did that scanner wake me up. (It would be the first murder story I covered. I remember being one of the first reporters to show up. The police were hosing down the blood off the sidewalk, and the bloody water washed over my shoes. It's something you don't forget.) Those days were long, and physical. I would go home and count the bruises on my legs and arms. There was nothing glamorous about this life. But that's what I liked about it. I was a reporter – and I was proud of that.
As a woman in the news industry you have to be tough. I have always had to work harder than my male counterparts to be taken seriously and to be treated with respect. As a woman in the news industry you have to ignore all of the silly talk from your managers about the clothes you should wear on-air or what color your hair should be. I have had my share of conversations like that, and to be honest, it stings. I'm left wondering, "When will my work stand on its own? Why does this always have to be part of the conversation?"
Recently, I was the target of a failed punk. James O'Keefe, the so-called "pimp" in the ACORN expose videos, was participating in a detailed plan to "faux" seduce me on his boat. For months, I had been working on a documentary about the young conservative movement. James had called me about concerns he had regarding an upcoming shoot. He asked me to meet him to talk about the shoot. I agreed to fly to Maryland and then drive to his "office" for a face-to-face conversation with him.
When I showed up, there was no office, as promised. Instead, he wanted to get me on a boat, which we later learned, was staged as a "pleasure palace." One of his colleagues, Izzy Santa, who was in Maryland that day, told me about the plan and stopped the punk before it happened.
Izzy told me he had "strawberries and champagne" waiting for me on the boat, and that he planned to "hit on me" the entire time. She said it would all be captured on hidden cameras that had been set up on the boat and in the back yard. She said the sole purpose of the "punk" was to embarrass me, and to make CNN look bad.
I would soon learn the details of the plan, in a 13-page document titled, "CNN Caper."
It explains the type of equipment needed to stage the boat for our meeting. Here is how the document reads:
1. hidden cams on the boat
2. tripod and overt recorder near the bed, an obvious sex tape machine
1. condom jar
a. Alicia keys
b. 80s romance songs, things that are typically James
c. avoid Marvin Gaye as too cliche
5. ceiling mirror
6. posters and paintings of naked women
7. playboys and pornographic magazines
9. Viagra and stamina pills
10. fuzzy handcuffs
James was supposed to tape the following script before the meeting on the boat.