Tuesday, March 8, 2011
You probably remember James O'Keefe from his famous ACORN hidden camera videos, his attempt to bug the phones of Sen. Mary Landrieu, or possibly his odd involvement in an attempt to "seduce" CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau on a boat, but he's back with a new sting operation, this time on NPR.
This time, two of O'Keefe's associates, Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar, posed as representatives of a wealthy Muslim foundation connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, offered NPR a check for $5 million, and then taped the lunch meeting they had with NPR's then-senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller and senior director of institutional giving Betsy Liley (who doesn't talk much).
Schiller is probably a little too frank with the faux-contributors, and he basically gives O'Keefe what he wanted, which is anti-right wing/Tea Party rhetoric, but a few things worth nothing:
1. O'Keefe's intro stating that NPR receives $90 million from the government is at best misleading, and likely just plain false. As Melissa Bell wrote for the Washington Post, "NPR receives only about $2.4 million directly, with the rest coming from member stations (who also receive federal funding grants), sponsorships and fundraising."
2. NPR never took the money from the fake organization, as mentioned in their statement on the video: "The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept."
3. Ron Schiller is a fundraiser. Fundraisers tend to agree with the people offering them money. He made an effort to distinguish his own opinion from that of the official position of NPR, his position didn't have influence on editorial content, and frankly, most of what he said in either context isn't all that different from what a lot of people believe about the Tea Party and the religious right. Also, he doesn't work at NPR anymore.
Seems like a non-scandal to me, but that's probably wishful thinking on my part.
What O'Keefe is saying is the unedited footage is available below the cut.