By Mark Howard
March 15, 2011 | It should come as no surprise that James O’Keefe is an unethical liar who produces deliberately deceptive videos to smear his political opponents. That’s been proven on many occasions. What’s surprising is that is that anyone in the media still pays any attention to him, much less takes actions based on his fictional accounts of staged events. Now even Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze, is confirming O’Keefe’s disreputability after having analyzed O’Keefe’s latest videos attacking National Public Radio.
Scott Baker, Editor-in-Chief of The Blaze, published a fairly in-depth review of O’Keefe’s scam wherein he compared segments of the edited version to the original unedited source material. What he found he described in his conclusion as “editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented.” Here are some of the overt misrepresentations O’Keefe manufactured:
1) O’Keefe’s edited video portrayed NPR’s Ron Schiller as happily willing to take a donation from a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The long-form video downplays the connection to the Brotherhood, and discusses its current status as a moderate, non-violent organization.
2) The edited video portrayed Schiller reacting approvingly in a discussion of Sharia law. The long-form video shows that the response was actually to a different subject entirely. It was just edited in to make it appear as if he was responding the discussion of Sharia law.
3) The edited video portrayed Schiller as hostile to Republicans and conservatives. The long-form video shows him praising the GOP. Those remarks were completely cut out.
4) The edited video portrayed Schiller disparaging the Tea Party as racist. The long-form video shows that those remarks were actually the views of others that was describing.
5) The edited video portrayed Schiller demeaning the intelligence of conservatives. The long-form video shows both him and his NPR colleague defending the intellect of conservatives and even Fox News viewers.
6) The edited video portrayed Schiller asserting that federal funding for NPR was not necessary or desirable. The long-form video shows him going into detail about the necessity of those funds.
When Glenn Beck’s web site calls out a conservative for being unethical, there must be something seriously wrong. His lies must have been so egregious that they surpass the threshold for lying ordinarily maintained by people like Beck. Or perhaps Beck is jealous of the competition from O’Keefe for “Best Distortion of Reality.”
The examples above are representative of the grossly deceptive practices that James O’Keefe, a convicted criminal, engages in repeatedly. They are further evidence that nothing he does or says deserves to be taken seriously. Worst of all, they demonstrate the crippling naivete of NPR for reacting so hastily in compelling the resignation of NPR chief Vivian Schiller. After the fact, some folks at NPR are addressing the shameful reaction from their executive ranks. NPR reporter David Folkenflik took on O’Keefe’s video directly finding that “many of Ron Schiller’s most provocative remarks were presented in a misleading way.” Ira Glass, host of “This American Life,” said that…
“As somebody who works in public radio, it is killing me that people on the right are going around trying to basically rebrand us, saying that it’s biased news, it’s left wing news, when I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it’s not. And we are not fighting back, we are not saying anything back. I find it completely annoying, and I don’t understand it.”
And that’s the real question here: Why aren’t they fighting back? American media seems far to complacent in the wake of withering assaults by right-wing activists. Rather than defend their virtue (such as it is), they apologize and promise that it will never happen again – even though “it” didn’t happen in the first place. Unfortunately, two careers have already been knee-capped because no one at NPR thought to consider the source.
If nothing else, this proves that the media is dominated by conservative forces who consistently control the narrative. Contrary to the spin from the right, NPR is anything but liberal and often it serves only to validate the dishonest mainstream press. They’ve had two correspondents working as paid contributors to Fox News. How many have they had on NBC or Democracy Now? And NPR’s Mara Liasson continues her employment, even after Fox News CEO Roger Ailes called them all Nazis.
The myth that public broadcasting is liberal has got to be buried once and for all. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is headed by Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a former chair of the Republican Party. And has everyone forgotten the irrepressibly corrupt Kenneth Tomlinson who was the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and was run out of office just ahead of an indictment? Perhaps the Republicans in congress are right and defunding should be explored more seriously. I simply can’t continue to make excuses for these agencies that are too often used as political pawns without fulfilling their mandate to serve the public.
Even if NPR was disposed to unload Schiller, they should have conducted a thorough investigation and then waited a few months so that O’Keefe couldn’t hang another trophy on his wall. They are empowering a dangerous and dishonest cabal of right-wing activists and they seem to be completely oblivious and irresponsible. And to what end? Do they think that firing a couple of patsies will mollify their critics. All they have to do is listen to one of their harshest critics on Capital Hill, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who said that,
“Our concern is not about any one person at NPR.”
These folks are out to destroy those whom they perceive as their progressive opponents and they will settle for nothing less. Yet the victims of this political massacre refuse to defend themselves.