Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hey, NPR, slow down!

Shouldn't people know better by now?

The scandal of the week was that James O'Keefe, the guy whose lies and distortions brought down ACORN and Shirley Sherrod (temporarily), had struck again. This time his target was another of the favorite punching bags of the extreme Right: National Public Radio.

I'll give you NPR's initial story on this, since this became the canonical version of the tale:

The top fundraiser for NPR has resigned after a videotape became public showing him openly disparaging conservative groups during what he thought was a fundraising meeting. The video was recorded secretly during a lunch Ron Schiller had with two people who claimed to be eager to contribute to public radio.

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

The top fundraiser for NPR, who had already announced that he was leaving NPR for another job, officially resigned last night. A videotape became public showing him disparaging conservative groups during what he thought was a fundraising meeting. The video was secretly recorded during a lunch with two people who claimed to be eager to contribute to public radio.


Eventually the fundraiser and the president of NPR were fired because of this, providing two more trophies for O'Keefe's wall.

The rest of the story came out Sunday, and it comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with O'Keefe's modus operandi.

Wait for it . . .

That's right: O'Keefe lied.

And he did it the exact same way he has lied to create these other stories: by creative editing to create a fictional account of what happened.

Keep in mind what Schiller said, as reported by NPR:

ABRAMSON: Schiller says the Tea Party, in particular, is, quote, "not just Islamaphobic, but I mean xenophobic. I mean, basically they believe in sort of white, middle America, gun toting - I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people," unquote.

This wasn't a big deal to some of us, except that we were pissed that NPR was firing people for telling the truth.

People at NPR lose their jobs for telling the truth? I guess that's why people at Fox have job security. #teaparty

It turns out that it was even worse than that. The Blaze reports what really happened.

4. The “seriously racist” Tea Party

NPR exec Ron Schiller does describe Tea Party members as “xenophobic…seriously racist people.”

This is one of the reasons why he no longer has a job!

But the clip in the edited video implies Schiller is giving simply his own analysis of the Tea Party. He does do that in part, but the raw video reveals that he is largely recounting the views expressed to him by two top Republicans, one a former ambassador, who admitted to him that they voted for Obama.


This is the key point right here: Schiller and his boss, Vivian Schiller, were fired largely for the claim that he was expressing his own views of the Republican Right, which confirms the right-wing view of NPR. What we now know is that he was quoting some large Republican donors, not expressing his own views (although it does appear that he was endorsing those views).

Still, if the headline had been, "According to NPR executive, top Republicans accuse Tea Party of xenophobia" it would have been no big deal.

What made it a big deal was the way O'Keefe used editing to lie about what Schiller said.

So this raises a big question in my mind: why haven't people learned yet? We know now that the very fact that James O'Keefe says something, that is prima facie evidence that it's a lie?

And why do serious people and organizations get their panties in a twist, and immediately take precipitous and irrational action, when we hear one more of these lying stories from O'Keefe?

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