NPR Unstung? Once Again, O’Keefe Shows He Shouldn’t Be Trusted

After his fraudulent ACORN videos, the lesson media should have learned about right-wing “citizen journalist” James O’Keefe is not to trust him. But they didn’t, so here we are with his NPR stunt, which allegedly shows NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller saying mean things about the Tea Party in a meeting with phony Muslim Brotherhood-connected donors.

But it appears that, once again, O’Keefe’s videos are not be what they seem. The first serious questions about them were raised on (I swear!) The Blaze, a Glenn Beck-affiliated website. Over there, Scott Baker pointed to a few problems (3/10/11). In one part of the video, NPR‘s Schiller seems to laugh about the phony Muslim group’s position on Sharia law. Baker says it’s out of context:

So after saying that the MEAC website advocates the “acceptance of Sharia,” the video cuts to the NPR exec saying, “Really? That’s what they said?”The cadence is jovial and upbeat and the narration moves on. The implication is that the NPR exec is aware and perhaps amused or approving of the MEAC mission statement. But when you look at the raw video, you realize he was actually recounting an unrelated and innocuous issue about confusion over names in the restaurant reservation.

But more important than that is the part of the video regarding Schiller’s comments about the Tea Party–the words that generated much of the current controversy. According to Baker, elsewhere in the video Schiller talks fondly of his own Republican roots. As for the racist, xenophobic Tea Party stuff:

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.

NPR has done at least two reports on the video (one here, the other here). It’s not quite a Shirley Sherrod moment–where the right-wing video was edited to totally turn her message around–but it’s clear that things aren’t exactly what they first seemed. O’Keefe’s history should give media outlets serious reservations about taking him at face value on anything.

On CNN‘s Reliable Sources (3/13/11) O’Keefe was asked what he thought of the media’s coverage of the story:

HOWARD KURTZ: Do you think the media coverage has been fair to you and your organization in this NPR story?

O’KEEFE: I think it’s been more fair. I think the mainstream media is certainly starting to have a little more respect for us.

He’s right–which goes to show you that the argument that the media is tilted to the left remains totally unconvincing.

*NOTE: A small correction: The Blaze writer’s name is Scott Baker–not Scott Walker, who is someone else entirely.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.