Aug
26
2011

O'Keefe's Bogus NPR Sting Lives On

Jesse Jackson had some tough criticism for the Tea Party movement at a Martin Luther King event on Thursday. USA Today's Melanie Eversley covered his remarks, getting a Tea Party activist to respond to his criticism. The piece then added this, presumably in order to add some context:

The group has faced criticism of being a racist group, a claim made most visibly by former National Public Radio fundraiser Ron Schiller, who was caught on hidden camera calling the group racist and xenophobic, prompting his immediate resignation.

In other words, lots of people seem to hurl accusations of racism at the Tea Party, right? One tiny problem:Schiller didn't actually say that–he said that was what some Republicans were saying about the Tea Party. NPR's David Folkenflik (among others) pointed out that the video–released by right-wing hoaxer James O'Keefe–was edited in order to make a totally misleading impression:

in the shorter tape, Schiller is also presented as saying the GOP has been "hijacked" by Tea Partyers 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.

This is the problem with the O'Keefe/Andrew Breitbart school of right-wing advocacy. Their work can't be trusted, and some people usually manage to figure out where they've cut a corner or edited a tape in order to advance a bogus storyline. But too many reporters remember the initial bogus story as fact–ACORN workers helped a "pimp" set up a brothel, for example–which is precisely the point of this propaganda.

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.