Last week, discredited conservative activist James O'Keefe released a video in which former NPR executive Ron Schiller appeared to disparage the tea party movement and say that NPR would be “better off” without federal funding. Since then, several media outlets have noted that the full video shows that these and other comments Schiller made were taken out of context, yet Fox & Friends has continued to promote O'Keefe's video without noting that it is deceptively edited.
O'Keefe Releases Video Of NPR Executives Meeting With Fake Muslim Group
O'Keefe's Project Veritas Releases Video Purporting To "[Expose] The True Hearts And Minds Of NPR And Their Executives." On March 8, James O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, released a video in which two “investigative journalists trained by” Project Veritas posed as members of a fake Muslim organization and met with National Public Radio (NPR) executives Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley. O'Keefe claimed that the video showed the executives “blasting Republicans, Tea Partiers, middle America, Jews, and Christians” and claimed Schiller said NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding.” [Project Veritas, 3/8/11]
But The Video Was Deceptively Edited “To Intentionally Lie Or Mislead”
The Blaze: “Undercover Reporting” Can Be “Acceptable,” But “It Is Another Thing To Approve Of Editing Tactics That Seemed Designed To Intentionally Lie Or Mislead.” On March 10, Glenn Beck's website The Blaze published a report comparing segments of the edited video with the original raw footage. The analysis found that many of the segments presented Schiller's comments misleadingly or out of context. [The Blaze, 3/10/11]
The Blaze: Raw Video Reveals Schiller “Is Largely Recounting...Views [Of The Tea Party] Expressed To Him By Two Top Republicans.” From the Blaze report:
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.
At the end, he signals his agreement. The larger context does not excuse his comments, or his judgment in sharing the account, but would a full context edit have been more fair? See what you think... [The Blaze, 3/10/11]
NPR's Folkenflick: “Elements Of NPR Gotcha Video Taken Out Of Context.” NPR contributor David Folkenflik also asked independent consultants to review both the edited video and the raw footage. Folkenflik wrote on a March 14 post on NPR's website:
In addition, several times the donors seek to goad Schiller and Liley into making inflammatory statements about conservatives or Fox News personalities, and they deflect them. At one point, Liley explains that she attended Purdue University, which she describes as a conservative and respected research university, and that people there relied on Fox to get much of their news.
Menz, [a Sacramento-based] digital forensics consultant, said he found some of Schiller's actual remarks disturbing. But by analyzing time stamps, Menz concluded that many of Schiller's remarks in that shorter video are presented out of sequence from the questions that were posed.
“For me, in my background, it immediately puts things into question,” Menz said. “You really don't know what context these were in, what was going on in the 20 minutes before and after this question was asked.”
Take the political remarks. Ron Schiller speaks of growing up as a Republican and admiring the party's fiscal conservatism. He says Republican politicians and evangelicals are becoming “fanatically” involved in people's lives.
But in the shorter tape, Schiller is also presented as saying the GOP has been “hijacked” by Tea Partiers and xenophobes.
In the longer tape, it's evident Schiller is not giving his own views but instead quoting two influential Republicans -- one an ambassador, another a senior Republican donor. Schiller notably does not take issue with their conclusions -- but they are not his own. [NPR, 3/14/11]
Weigel: I Regret “Credulously Writing That Schiller Was 'Musing' About His Opinion Of Tea Partiers.” In a March 11 post on his blog on Slate, David Weigel wrote:
Glenn Beck's website The Blaze analyzes and partly debunks the NPR sting. The fourth point is enough to make me regret credulously writing that Schiller was “musing” about his opinion of Tea Partiers when he discussed how extreme they seemed to be.
The Blaze grabs the entire exchange, before the edit, from the video that was made available by Project Veritas on Tuesday -- hours before Schiller sped up his retirement, and resigned. I've bolded the part that was cut.
[From the video] 4 Racist tea Party from Naked Emperor News on Vimeo.
SCHILLER: I won't break a confidence, but a person who was an ambassador -- so, a very highly placed Republican -- another person, who was one of the top donors to the Republican party, they both told me they voted for Obama, which they never believed they could ever do in their lives. That they could ever vote for a Democrat, ever. And they did, because they think the current Republican party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group that...
“MUSLIM”: The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?
SCHILLER: Exactly. And not just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic. Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun-toting -- I mean, it's pretty scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.
Now, it is not unheard of for people, in conversation, to quote other people saying things they believe to provide a little cover. What do we know about these two Republicans? Nothing. But we know that Schiller was paraphrasing other people when he said the Republican Party had been “hijacked,” and -- after being encouraged by the stinger -- when he said that it was “xenophobic.” [Slate, 3/11/11, emphasis in original]
The Blaze: “In The Raw Video...Schiller Explains The Risk To Local Stations” If Federal Funding Is Lost. From the Blaze report:
Let's look now at one of the other sections most featured in news reports about the original video -- the comments about federal funding for NPR.
Schiller says that NPR, “in the long run,” would be better off without federal funding and that most of the stations would survive a loss of such funding. The implication is that Schiller does not believe federal funding for NPR is important. In the raw video, however, Schiller explains the risk to local stations in more detail and why NPR is doing “everything we can to advocate for federal funding.” [The Blaze, 3/10/11]
Yet Fox & Friends Continues To Hype Lies In O'Keefe's Misleading Video
Doocy: House Committee Vote Follows “Release Of A Controversial Videotape That Showed A Top NPR Executive Insulting The Tea Party And Admitting NPR Doesn't Need Taxpayer Money.” On the March 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reported on a House bill that would end federal funding of NPR by saying:
DOOCY: Alright, here are some headlines. Later on today, the House Rules committee expected to vote on a bill that would strip federal funding for National Public Radio. The vote comes a week after the release of a controversial videotape that showed a top NPR executive insulting tea party members and admitting NPR doesn't need taxpayer money. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
MacCallum: “Controversial Videotape” Shows NPR Executive “Insulting Tea Party Members And Admitting...Maybe NPR Doesn't Need Federal Money After All.” Later in the show, guest host Martha MacCallum reported on the upcoming vote with similar language, saying:
MACCALLUM: Later today, the House Rules committee is expected to vote on a bill that would strip federal funding for National Public Radio. This vote comes a week after the release of a controversial videotape, you remember this one, that showed a top NPR executive insulting tea party members and admitting, you know, maybe NPR doesn't need federal money after all. NPR's CEO Vivian Schiller promptly resigned after that tape went viral. If the vote to defund NPR passes today, it will then have to pass in the Senate and House as well, as that is reconciled. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
Doocy Again Says Video Shows NPR Executive “Insulting Tea Party Members” And “Admitting That NPR Didn't Really Need Taxpayer Money.” Doocy again reported on the House Rules committee vote later in the broadcast by saying:
DOOCY: Meanwhile, later today, the House Rules committee expected to vote on a bill stripping taxpayer funding for NPR, National Public Radio. The vote comes a week after the controversial release of a videotape showing a top NPR executive insulting tea party members and admitting that NPR didn't really need taxpayer money. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/16/11]
O'Keefe's Record Is Defined By Falsehoods, Distortions, And Discrediting Stunts
O'Keefe Pled Guilty To A Misdemeanor Charge For Entering Sen. Mary Landrieu's Office In New Orleans Under False Pretenses. In May 2010, O'Keefe pled guilty to entering U.S. government property on false pretenses after he and three other defendants posed as telephone workers to “investigate complaints that office staff members allegedly ignored constituents' phone calls,” according to the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune. [NOLA.com, 5/26/10]
O'Keefe's ACORN Videos Found To Be Deceptively Edited. While O'Keefe claimed that his ACORN tapes were a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” that implicated many ACORN employees, in at least six of the eight tapes, O'Keefe and his partner did not clearly tell the ACORN employees they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit. Several subsequent investigations found no illegal action conducted by ACORN staffers in the video. For instance, then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office concluded there was no evidence of illegal activity by ACORN, and that the videos were deceptively edited. According to Brown: "[T]hings are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor." [Media Matters, 1/27/10, California Attorney General's Office, 4/1/10]
O'Keefe Edits Video To Falsely Claim Census Workers “Systematically Encourag[ed] Employees To Falsify Information.” In June 2010, O'Keefe released a video claiming to show that Census workers “systematically encourage[ed] employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” ABC News revealed that O'Keefe had excluded a clip of a census leader telling workers that they must carefully and accurately report on their time sheets the number of miles they drive when they are doing their enumeration work. [Media Matters, 6/1/10]
O'Keefe Allegedly Planned To Humiliate CNN Reporter Boudreau With Staged Sex Sting. In September 2010, CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau revealed that O'Keefe had planned to trick her into getting on board a boat where, according to a colleague of O'Keefe's, he would secretly record his attempts to “hit on her” using “strawberries and champagne” and a variety of sexual props. According to a document obtained by CNN, the plan was to humiliate Boudreau: “Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.” O'Keefe later claimed that the proposed ambush “repulsed” him and did not represent his actual plan. [CNN.com, 9/29/10; BigJournalism.com, 10/4/10]