Hats Off to Glenn Beck Website The Blaze.com

While most news organizations and others were sending the now-called "NPR Gotcha Video," zinging through the Web, there was one news outfit that slowed down and studied both versions.

It was The Blaze.com, a news, information and opinion website sponsored by Glenn Beck.

The Blaze analyzed discrepancies between the heavily edited 11-minute video and the two-hour raw video of the entire conversation with NPR's former chief fundraiser Ron Schiller and posted it March 10.

Both Ron Schiller and former CEO Vivian Schiller resigned on March 8, the day the shorter version was posted.

Take a look at their terrific analysis of the videos distributed by James O'Keefe III. A compliment to O'Keefe for posting the two-hours, but as The Blaze.com discovered even the "full" version shows signs of editing.

Scott Baker, a veteran broadcast journalist, is editor in chief of the six-month-old website. Baker was also a co-founder of Breitbart.TV.

Here's an email Q&A I did with Baker.

Q:One thing I never have had a chance to ask you is why The Blaze did the analysis of O'Keefe's video tactics?

BAKER: I've had a long-standing interest in media ethics. I took it as a class in college and I wasn't even a journalism or communications major!

I've attended numerous seminars (like Poynter) over the years and have given lectures myself for decades.

Over the last few years as we've seen the rise of the citizen journalist and the undercover citizen journalist (or even activist) I have thought a good deal about the issues such reports can raise.

These are things (video journalist) Pam Key and I have discussed for years. If raw video of such reports are available, she often spends hours reviewing the material.

So it was sort of a natural thing. The story came out. I saw that there was raw video. (Note — I've praised Project Veritas for posting it.) I asked Pam to review. She quickly came with two or three key concerns and said she thought she should look through the video carefully.

She presented summary video of her findings. I added my thoughts and a few points. We decided to break her summary video into multiple sections and I would structure the essay raising some questions and concerns.

We posted it. It did well on our site. By the next day we were in earthquake mode and no one had really picked up on the story. I was satisfied that we had done something interesting and comfortable that it would drift off into the viral dustbin. It didn't really start picking up attention until the second and third day.

Q.In terms of normal traffic, how has this particular piece fared? More hits than usual, fewer?

BAKER: We do pretty heavy traffic most days. Traffic has been up a good bit the last several days...but the Japan disaster also plays a role in that. I would say we have certainly seen traffic from a more diverse array of sources and perhaps that has introduced some new readers to the site.

Q: The tone –which I have tried hard to not adopt – from so many in the media and out is one of surprise that Glenn Beck's website would take on someone such as James O'Keefe. How do you feel about that?

BAKER: I see this more as raising issues for debate and discussion than taking on any one person. I'm sure some are surprised, but we tend to kick around one of Glenn's favorite phrases...the truth has no agenda.

Q: Is Glenn very involved in The Blaze.com, and how long has it been around?

BAKER: The Blaze is six months old. We are doing about 3 million absolute unique visitors per month. For the first four months we had a staff of four. Glenn is passionate about the site. He sends ideas at all hours. But he trusts The Blaze team to execute in accordance with our mission.

Q: What's Pam Key's background? [Key did the video analysis.]

BAKER: Pam was primarily a professional illustrator...mainly of children's books as I understand it.

Q: Did watching the full video and consulting with Pam change how you thought about what Ron Schiller did in the lunch meeting?

BAKER: I certainly felt it gave a more complete picture. But clearly he said some egregious things that were personally offensives to me (a white, conservative evangelical!). Our analysis was not intended to defend his comments in anyway.

Q: Do you think NPR was too harsh on Ron Schiller? Or Vivian Schiller?

BAKER: Pass. Not sure I see it as my role to render an assessment.

[End of interview.]

What has Beck had to say about why he did this?

"The problem with this whole thing is does James O'Keefe have enough credibility to continue to do" undercover video journalism? Beck asked his listeners yesterday. He told them O'Keefe's kind of journalism isn't really not something that you necessarily want to get into. But if you do it, you damn well better not lie on the tape. You don't now take what you have and edit something to make them say something that they didn't say. I mean, you have no credibility then."

Footnote: NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik elaborated on Sunday and with two stories on Monday, one on Morning Edition and one on All Things Considered.

Many are asking why — if the videos were heavily edited - that NPR isn't rehiring Ron Schiller. Folkenflik answered that in one of his pieces:

"NPR senior vice president Dana Davis Rehm issued a statement saying O'Keefe inappropriately edited the videos with an intent to discredit the network," said Folkenflik. "But NPR, she said, had confirmed from the outset that Ron Schiller had, indeed, made egregious statements."

Editiors Note: An NPR exec reminded me that Ron Schiller had already announced his resignation when O'Keefe's video was posted. He intended his last day to be in May, but after the video appeared, he resigned immediately. He was headed for a job at the Aspen Institute. He is no longer going to work there.

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