James O'Keefe Versus NPR

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2011 9:01 AM

James O'Keefe Versus NPR

The video sting artiste publishes the latest work from his shop -- a covertly taped interview with then-NPR Foundation senior VP for development Ron Schiller and current senior director of institutional giving Betsy Liley. Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar posed as members of a wealthy Muslim education foundation "founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood," and taped the NPR representatives -- largely Schiller -- answering them with exactly what they wanted to hear. Unfortunately for the stingers, Schiller just announced he's leaving* NPR for the Aspen Institute.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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The Schiller quotes most relevant to the current discussion over funding cuts would seem to be his comments on what would happen if the government cut NPR off.

Republicans play off the belief among the general population that most of our funding comes from the government. Very little of our funding comes from the government, but they act as if all our funding comes from the government... it is very clear that in the long run we would be better off without federal funding. And the challenge right now is that if we lost it altogether, we'd have a lot of stations go dark.

The quotes you'll probably hear more about -- Schiller musing about why this Muslim group might have so many gripes with conservatives.

SCHILLER: The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian -- and I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of move... it's been hijacked by this group that...

"MUSLIM": The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?

SCHILLER: It's not just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic. Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun-toting -- it's pretty scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.

And on the firing of Juan Williams:

What NPR did I'm very proud of. What NPR stood for is a non-racist, non-bigoted, straightforward telling of the news. Our feeling is that if a person expresses his or her personal opinion, which anyone is entitled to do in a free society, they are compromised as a journalist. They can no longer fairly report. And the question we asked internally was, can Juan Williams, when he makes a statement like that, can he report to the Muslim population, and be believed, for example? And the answer is no. He lost all credibility and that breaks your ethics as a journalist.

Schiller is a professional fundraiser, not a journalist. His pandering to the group is actually sort of masterful. I've asked NPR about the editorial line he assigns to the network and will update when I get a response. (A quick aside: The video starts and ends with a shot of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sign outside the NPR building; the sign actually marks the site of some lawn restoration on NPR's block.)

UPDATE: Here's the statement from Dana Davis Rehm, senior VP of Marketing, Communications& External Relations at NPR.

The fraudulent organization represented in this videorepeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached,which we repeatedly refused to accept.

We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in thevideo, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.  

Mr. Schiller announced last week that he is leaving NPR foranother job.

UPDATE II: O'Keefe's Project Veritas posts the whole video. In this case NPR, unlike ACORN,

the integrity of the video.



*My mistake: Schiller is still at NPR and hasn't departed yet.


David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.