Once conservative activist James O’Keefe released the raw footage of his latest undercover video, in which former NPR SVP Ron Schiller is taped saying some seemingly vicious things about Republicans and claiming that the radio network would be “better off without federal funding,” analysts began to question whether the editing that went into the originally released tape was fair. This was likely inevitable, considering the way his last sting panned out — it turned out the video that brought down ACORN was edited in a highly misleading way, and a judge cleared the group of any wrongdoing upon viewing the raw footage. Last week, Glenn Beck’s website, the Blaze, looked into it and discovered “editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented.” And this morning, NPR itself finally aired a piece on how “elements of the NPR gotcha piece were taken out of context.” Too bad CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron) was already forced to resign last week.
You should really go over to the Blaze and read the analysis yourself, because it’s pretty thorough (although in the end relatively unforgiving of Ron Schiller and almost regretful in its partial exoneration of him). But here are the basic points:
1) Although much has been made of the fact that Schiller was meeting with a group linked to the “Muslim Brotherhood in America” in the first place, the fake board members actually downplayed the link themselves.
2) Schiller did not laugh in assent, as it appears, to the idea of instituting Sharia law across the world. He laughed at another funny situation that was unrelated, and that reaction was edited into the Sharia conversation.
3) When he refers to Republicans and the tea party as “really xenophobic” and “seriously racist, racist people,” he’s actually quoting what another Republican told him. In fact, he speaks positively about fiscal conservatives and small-government advocates.
4) In the edited video, Schiller is seen suggesting that modern-day tea partiers may be less educated than liberals, but his lunch companion, NPR’s Betsy Liley, defends the intellect of Fox News viewers.
5) When he talks about the idea that NPR might be better off “in the long run” without federal funding, an edited-out portion included him explaining why local stations still need it, and why NPR continues to advocate for public funds.
Those are pretty much the main points of scandal from the original eleven-minute clip, and each one has proven to be misleadingly edited. As we said originally, Schiller’s kowtowing to these guys was an unattractive display, even without editing. But at a certain point, liberal institutions should start counting these O’Keefe videos as actual victories. If he can’t make a compelling video without absurd cutting and pasting, surely these places are actually doing something right. At the very least, they’ll hopefully stop firing people the minute the “stings” are released and start learning from their mistakes — something O’Keefe himself seems strangely unwilling to do.