A video made surreptitiously by a conservative sting artist shows phony, would-be Muslim donors meeting with two NPR fundraisers who are caught on the tape making candid, awkward comments about the Republican Party -- and also talking bluntly about the ouster of commentator Juan Williams.
The sting operation, produced by conservative activist James O'Keefe, shows NPR fundraisers Ron Schiller (who has since announced his departure from NPR) and Betsy Liley at lunch with two men masquerading as wealthy Muslim donors. That the NPR people appear to tell the supposed contributors what they want to hear is not an unusual approach for fundraisers.
But against the backdrop of a possible cut off of NPR funding proposed by the GOP-controlled U.S. House, Schiller can be heard saying that "very little of our funding comes from the government." That is correct. "In the long run," he said, "we would be better off without federal funding." That's at least debatable. Then, talking about the GOP, Schiller added: "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." In answer to a leading question about the tea party movement, he adds, "Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun toting -- it's pretty scary. They're seriously racist."
Schiller, who said Tuesday night his resignation as NPR Foundation's senior vice president for development would take effect immediately, went on to say that he was proud that NPR let Juan Williams go last year after Williams said on Fox News he would be concerned if he boarded a plane with fellow passengers in Muslim garb. "He lost all credibility and that breaks your ethics as a journalist." Schiller says.
NPR, in a statement, said: "The fraudulent organization represented in the video repeatedly 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 the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for. Mr. Schiller announced last week he is leaving NPR for another job."
O'Keefe's Project Veritas gained notoriety in 2009 in another covertly made video that showed individuals posing as a pimp and prostitute seeming to get advice on gaming the tax system from a representative of ACORN, a liberal community activist organization. O'Keefe went too far last year when he and three others were charged with attempting to tamper with the phone lines in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, received three years' probation, a $1,500 fine and 100 hours of community service.
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