When conservative political activist James O'Keefe released the 11-minute edited version of his secretly recorded video of then-NPR chief fundraiser Ron Schiller slamming conservatives, O'Keefe also posted what he says is the entire two hours' worth of video his undercover team collected.
"Judge for yourself" whether he produced a fair and balanced 11-minute version, O'Keefe said last Tuesday when his tapes hit the Web.
As NPR's David Folkenflik says on Weekend Edition Sunday, conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck's website The Blaze has done some judging and concluded that O'Keefe did make some misleading edits.
The Blaze wrote Thursday that some things O'Keefe did were "editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented." For instance, The Blaze says that in the edited tape "NPR exec Ron Schiller does describe Tea Party members as 'xenophobic ... seriously racist people.' " But, it notes:
"The clip in the edited video implies Schiller is giving simply his own analysis of the Tea Party. He does do that in part, but the raw video reveals that he is largely recounting the views expressed to him by two top Republicans, one a former ambassador, who admitted to him that they voted for Obama.
"At the end, he signals his agreement. The larger context does not excuse his comments, or his judgment in sharing the account, but would a full context edit have been more fair?"
The Blaze has also put together a medley of "What You Didn't See" in the edited tape that might add context:
(Note at 3:30 p.m. ET: We've expanded this paragraph to add more of what Ron Schiller said.) NPR's management and many of its highest profile journalists publicly called Ron Schiller's remarks appalling. And O'Keefe's edits do not entirely wipe away the nature of some things Schiller said. At one point in the two-hour tape, Schiller is heard saying he had grown up as a Republican and prized its fiscal conservatism. But then he said that in his personal opinion, "there's a real anti-intellectual movement on the part of a significant part of the Republican Party." And, he's heard saying that, "the current Republican Party — in particular the Tea Party — is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian. ... I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind" of movement.
(Back to our original post.) But as David tells Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen, "The Blaze analysis strongly suggests ... [that] the 11 1/2 minute video ... significantly distorted much of what Ron Schiller had to say." Here's part of their conversation:
O'Keefe has not responded to David's e-mail request for comment.
Ron Schiller, who had already announced he was leaving NPR before the tapes hit the Web, moved up his departure by immediately resigning after their release. Vivian Schiller, NPR's CEO and no relation to Ron Schiller, was subsequently ousted by the NPR board of directors — because the board concluded that this controversy, and the lingering effects of last fall's controversial dismissal of analyst Juan Williams, made it impossible for her to effectively lead the organization.
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Update at 8:45 a.m. ET, March 14: David has done another report, for today's Morning Edition.
Update at 4:40 p.m. ET: O'Keefe appeared on CNN today, on Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources show. Kurtz didn't ask about the issues The Blaze raised. At one point, O'Keefe says that "the tape is very honest" because in his opinion it "cuts to the core of who these people are."