Like many folks, I?ve been following the story of yesterday?s arrest of James O?Keefe and three other young men on federal charges relating to their visit to the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. They reportedly pretended to be telephone repairmen and were recording themselves pretending to check out the office phones for problems.

There?s lot of speculation now about the nature of the incident and the intentions of the conservative activists involved, but not a lot of details from the authorities. Many on the Left are trying to turn the case into Watergate Jr. Some on the Right are reflexively defending O?Keefe because of the earlier ACORN expose.

Here?s my initial reaction. First, given the facts of the case as reported so far, I doubt the kids were trying to install some kind of wiretap on the senator?s office phone system. I doubt they would even have the expertise to pull that off. What I think they were really doing was recording video (and audio, thus the reported use of listening equipment by one of the kids outside the building) of a fake repair visit in order to creating a piece ridiculing Landrieu for voting for ObamaCare despite the legions of phone calls from constituents against the bill. ?Why didn?t she listen to the voters?? the gist of the stunt might be. ?Were her phones not working??

This isn?t a defense of them. Far from it. They might well still be guilty of some kind of offense for misrepresenting themselves in an attempt to gain entry and access to phone equipment in a federal office.

In fact, let me go further. Whatever you think of these kinds of publicity stunts, they do not constitute investigative journalism. The earlier ACORN videos weren?t pieces of investigative journalism, either. It does the growing ranks of investigative journalists at conservative organizations a great disservice to invite a comparison of such publicity stunts with the hard, meticulous, and often boring work of exposing government waste and corruption.

There?s a place for creating video parodies and the like. Good for a laugh, make a point, okay. But let?s make the right distinctions ? and call out foolish behavior regardless of the intent.