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NPR Sting Video Was Edited to Accentuate Negative

4 years ago
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A surreptitious video depicting an NPR fundraiser criticizing Republicans and tea party activists during a meeting with phony Muslim donors was edited, leaving out important context for the controversial remarks.

The sting, conducted by conservative video-maker James O'Keefe, led to the removal last week of NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller, who was not one of those shown in the video but took responsibility for her subordinates' loose talk -- including a comment asserting that the tea party movement is "scary" and "seriously racist."

But an analysis of the full, two-hour video -- a much shorter version lit up the Internet -- shows that NPR fundraisers Ron Schiller (no relation to Vivian) and Betsy Liley also talked positively about Republicans and conservatives during their lunch date with the bogus donors. And they make it clear to the prospective contributors that their money would not influence news coverage.

"There is such a big firewall between funding and reporting," Ron Schiller says in the longer version of the video. "Reporters will not be swayed in any way, shape or form."

NPR reporter David Folkenflik and The Blaze, a conservative news aggregator set up by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, analyzed the longer O'Keefe tape and discovered the short version had been edited in a misleading way. Some of Ron Schiller's remarks were run out of sequence in the flow of questions and answers.

While Schiller does say the Republican Party has been "hijacked" by the tea party and Christian evangelicals -- and is "fanatically involved in people's personal lives" -- it is evident in the full tape that he is not giving his own view but rather quoting two influential Republicans, according to reporter Folkenflik. Schiller does not challenge those assertions, but they are not his.

"Except for a couple of unfortunate forays [into] political opinion, I think Ron Schiller actually did a fairly remarkably good job of explaining how NPR works and what you can and cannot expect if you contribute money to the NPR foundation," said Al Tompkins, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

But the first version of the video that showed up on the Internet last week seemed to confirm conservatives' suspicions about a liberal bias at NPR. And the revelations came as Republicans in Congress pushed to cut off federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which allocates financial support to NPR. While Schiller, in the video, said NPR "would be better off" in the long run without federal money, he also said losing the government assistance would be very hurtful in the short term.

Ron Schiller had already announced he was leaving NPR for another job when the video surfaced last week. His departure was then accelerated.

O'Keefe, who employs people he calls citizen journalists for his hidden camera stings, first popped up in 2009 with a video showing a worker for the liberal community activist group ACORN giving improper tax advice to individuals masquerading as a pimp and prostitute. Last year, O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after being charged with trying to tamper with the phone lines in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

O'Keefe did not answer requests this week for comment on the editing of the video, Folkenflik said.

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Huffpost, there you go again!

Of course the tape was edited. Would you want to watch an hour plus lunch conversation? Of course not!
Including only the salient exchanges, does not make the report a lie!

Glendale CA

March 16 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I assumed from the beginning that O'Keefe edited the tape to suit his own goals, just like Micheal Moore and just like the TV talking heads on both sides. The appalling note to me is that the people getting stung don't make any attempt to verify whether the person they are talking to is misrepresenting themselves. How much time do these people waste talking to people for no result? Are they that unprofessional? No wonder the Salahis are able to spin stories getting them into the upper strati of our society! I guess if you make your living spreading BS, it doesn't matter who your audience is.

March 16 2011 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

didn't they make the whole unedited tape available? seems like i remember seeing a link for that... if they were showing highlights, i wish they would be fail and balanced. that would be decent.
it is funny, ironically, pathetically funny, to hear NPR or their defenders complain about unfair editing.
i heard a nice little stickingoutourtongueather piece on the Concord NH vs. Concord MA mistake, but i do not remember any such helpful piece when Chuck Schumer Freudian-slippped out his erroneous three branches of govt. NPR is so biased and monolithic that they only now are even starting to realize they may have an agenda. ...i think we should fund NPR...just reform them to be free of Party affiliation and bias...

March 16 2011 at 7:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Edited or not, what was said was said, NPR not only deserves none of our tax mponey for their leftwing propoganda, they deserve to be investigated for misuse of taxpayer money. And if we are toncontinue to give them taxpaer money, we should send an equal amount to FOX News's right wing partisans.

March 16 2011 at 12:37 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

No matter how they try to spin it; the words were their own. Mr. Schiller put it best when he said "that NPR would be better off without Federal money"; I couldn't agree more.

March 15 2011 at 10:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Edited? Well, now I FEEL so much better knowing that as a Conservative, I could have listened even longer before being scolded and denigrated and ridiculed and diminished as a less than worthy American in the eyes of the ever-knowing and omnipotent arrogant Left NPR leadership. NPR? National Progressive Radio. And nowadays, "Progressive" of course is simply transparent code word for Socialism.

March 15 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Well ,I guess the salaries that NPR will not have to pay these two will be a start at saving money .After NPR said they would be better off without public funds ....I'm sure they will be granted their wish. I'm sure they can sell more commercials than Air Amerika.

March 15 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Here comes the attempts at damage control. NPR had better be careful lest they make Juan Williams a very rich man if he decides to sue. The Schiller woman insinuated that Williams needed a Phychiatrist and that was not taken out of context or edited.

March 15 2011 at 7:00 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
El Presidente

You wouldn't know it from the speed with which both Schillers exited the premises. Maybe if they hadn't acted as though they'd been caught in the crime of the century this wouldn't have gotten so much traction. You don't see Newt Gingrich donning sackcloth and ashes over his embarrassments.

March 15 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to El Presidente's comment

Don't hold Newt up as a paragon of virtue. He SHOULD be wearing sackcloth and ashes, instead of wrapping himself in the flag.

March 16 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No surprise there. These conservative outlets are always looking for a "gotcha" moment and when they can't, they create one.

March 15 2011 at 6:24 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tausands's comment

Yeah but your problem is that the conservatives are getting lot of gotchas and you can't name one that was created.

March 15 2011 at 7:03 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to joe's comment

If you read the story Joe, you'll discover this one was just another created one. The comments on the Tea Party were the actual remarks of Republican politicians being repeated to the phony donors. You seem to have no trouble commenting or responding to the comments, why is it you never know what is in the actual article?

March 15 2011 at 10:16 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down

By the way...the Acorn film was a created gotcha, as was the NAAPC/farmer one. If I wanted to take ten minutes researching to respond further to your patently false reply, I'm sure I could come up with plenty more. I have better things to do though.

March 15 2011 at 10:19 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down

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