One of the biggest stars in conservative media, Project Veritas James O'Keefe, has been ousted from the journalistic outfit that he founded after what he described as an internal power struggle.
O'Keefe said he was planning to start "anew" in an emotional speech to his staff Monday recounting a dispute with the organization's board of directors.
The Project Veritas founder had been placed on leave and suspended earlier this month after being accused of bullying behavior toward his staff.
In his speech, O'Keefe characterized the complaints about his conduct as having been orchestrated by board members with an agenda -- pointedly using the word "sell out" to attack individuals he left unnamed.
He acknowledged that he is a difficult and demanding boss, but he blamed his ouster on philosophical differences with the board of directors while insinuating his "sudden" removal was related to Project Veritas' recent expose of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Since it’s already out there, here are my heartfelt remarks to my staff this morning.
I need to make clear I have not resigned from the company, Project Veritas, I founded 13 years ago. I was stripped of my position as CEO and Chairman.
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) February 21, 2023
In a statement Monday, Project Veritas accused O'Keefe of extravagant spending and "financial malfeasance" that put the organization in jeopardy.
The board denied that O'Keefe had been fired, framing him as the instigator.
“Even with all of this public fallout, the Board still wants to speak with James. We did not fire him, nor do we want him to resign. We would like to continue conversations with James to resolve internal matters rather than litigate them publicly.”
O'Keefe told a very different story to his staff on Monday, dismissing "bizarre hyperbole" about expenditures that he said were necessary to run the business.
The Project Veritas founder relayed a lengthy story in which he described being ambushed by board members, one of whom offered a raise to one of the company's journalists to support a restructuring without O'Keefe at the helm.
“So currently, I have no job at Project Veritas,” O’Keefe said. "I have no position here based upon what the board has done. So I’m announcing to you all that today on President’s Day, I’m packing up my personal belongings.”
O'Keefe's ouster sent a shockwave through the conservative world, with right-wing media giant Steve Bannon declaring "war" on anyone involved in O'Keefe's removal.
"I just can't believe that the situation with Pfizer [...] is somehow unrelated. This happened at the same time," Bannon said.