James O'Keefe Looks Back at NPR Sting

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 7 2011 10:20 AM

James O'Keefe Looks Back at NPR Sting

Three months ago, in the wake of the Project Veritas sting of NPR fundraisers , Congress did something unexpected: It didn't strip NPR or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of taxpayer funding. More Republicans voted to nix it than had voted that way the last time the money was on the block. But the money survived.

Why did NPR endure while ACORN imploded? When I ran into James O'Keefe at this weekend's Faith & Freedom coalition conference, I asked him.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Advertisement

"I don't know," said O'Keefe, "but didn't the whole budget pivot on NPR?"

Sure, I said. It was one of the chits used in bargaining for the continuing resolution -- Democrats gave up some other funding to save NPR. But NPR survived. Why?

"They had a letter signed by NPR reporters distancing themselves," O'Keefe said. "They had CPB affiliates distancing themselves. But let's say I'd done a sting on a dozen offices of local affiliates. It was very clear in the ACORN investigation that the problem was systemic. The NPR sting maybe gave them the opportunity to say, 'Well, that's just our fundraiser, that's just our CEO, that's not us.' Maybe that's the reason."

I pointed out that one reason Democrats gave for dismissing the sting video was that it was, well, a James O'Keefe production. They simply argued that his content wasn't trustworthy. (My own problem with the short version of the video was that one of Ron Schiller's most incendiary comments, that the Tea Party was composed of "racist, racist people," cut out the part where Schiller said he was quoting two Republican friends.)

"Even NPR's ombudsman came out at some point and said that these people had said what they said," said O'Keefe. "Ron Schiller admitted that he said what he said and he resigned 24 hours after we released the full, unedited tape. Vivian Schiller resigned more than 24 hours after we released the full, unedited tape. They can say it's doctored -- but we released the full, unedited tape."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 6:09 PM Here's Who Voted to Fund Syrian Rebels and Get This ISIS Conflict Really Cooking
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?