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Birther coverage at NPR: undercover video

Some folks misrepresenting themselves as potential donors from a Muslim organization got hidden camera footage of Senior Vice President of NPR Ron Schiller and co-worker Betsy Liley. This according to the Washington Times.

When asked about the Science Desk coverage of global warming denial, Liley said that the Science Desk was about science and global warming is recognized scientific fact. She said that debate over the issue might be covered as a political issue, but it’s not science.

Comparing the fact of global warming to the fact of where President Obama was born, Liley said: “We’re not covering the birthers. We are not covering them” and concludes by asking if they should cover those that contend that “the world is flat.”

The fact, however, is that NPR covers the birthers A LOT!

Update: The source of the video is conservative activist James O’Keefe, the one who posed as a pimp and released heavily edited videos that lead to the ultimate dissolution of the community activist group ACORN. Questions have been raised about possible tampering of the NPR video including NPR’s own description of the tape as “heavily edited.”

Read more:

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. We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for. Mr. Schiller announced last week that he is leaving NPR for another job.

I think misrepresenting oneself is unethical. Shorter version of O’Keefe Undercover video follows:

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28 Responses to Birther coverage at NPR: undercover video

  1. avatar
    Rob March 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    883 times according to your google search. I guess it depends you compare to. The same search with for WND gives 14,000 hits, Washingtonpost – 2070, nytimes – 45,600, Slate – 2990.

    So maybe 883 isn’t so many…..

  2. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Doc,

    What do you think of Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles videotaping ACORN employees and “David Koch’s” call to Wisconsin Governor Walker?

  3. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) March 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Slartibartfast:
    Doc,

    What do you think of Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles videotaping ACORN employees and “David Koch’s” call to Wisconsin Governor Walker?

  4. avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) March 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Slartibartfast:
    Doc,

    What do you think of Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles videotaping ACORN employees and “David Koch’s” call to Wisconsin Governor Walker?

    Arg my keyboard messed up. I don’t know about Doc’s opinion but I don’t even think they were in the same league. The ACORN videos were made with completely malicious intent to destroy ACORN. They were edited in a way to make low level no-power employees look rather bad including the whole “he dressed like a pimp” “he was a pimp”. Never once did O’Keefe claim he was a pimp nor did he dress like one in those offices. Also the unedited portions that were released showed a general concern for the “women” themselves and how best to help them.

    In Walkers case, this was a guy in a position of power, the highest level in a state and he clearly showed his intent in the call. He hung himself with his own rope and in a situation like that where the average Joe wouldn’t be able to get through to the governor some guy claiming to be David Koch was connected for a fair amount of time shows the problem with lobbyists and politics. His staff should have vetted it further but it seems they wanted to cozy up to the fake David Koch.

  5. avatar
    Eglenn harcsar March 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Hello mr slartibarti fasti something, I agree with your analysis, and i fight with my keyboard all of
    the time with my big fumbling fingers and ttooooooo fast thoughts.

  6. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Eglenn harcsar:
    Hello mr slartibarti fasti something, I agree with your analysis, and i fight with my keyboard all of
    the time with my big fumbling fingers and ttooooooo fast thoughts.

    I didn’t give any analysis – I raised a question (for the record, my opinion is roughly the same as Dr. Ken Bob Ross whatever (too many first names! ;-))).

  7. avatar
    BruceCarson2008 March 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Do you think the media gives too much coverage to the Birthers, or not enough?

    Personally I think it helps the Democrats by making Republicans seem insane, so I like the coverage.

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Slartibartfast: What do you think of Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles videotaping ACORN employees and “David Koch’s” call to Wisconsin Governor Walker?

    I consider it unethical for someone to misrepresent themself. The ACORN incident was worse in that the tape was edited to mislead.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    BruceCarson2008:
    Do you think the media gives too much coverage to the Birthers, or not enough?

    Personally I think it helps the Democrats by making Republicans seem insane, so I like the coverage.

    Let me just say that I think the birthers get more coverage than they warrant.

  10. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 8, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Let me just say that I think the birthers get more coverage than they warrant.

    Which is not an atypical situation for the media – unfortunately.

  11. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I consider it unethical for someone to misrepresent themself. The ACORN incident was worse in that the tape was edited to mislead.

    O’Keefe also broke the law (in addition to editing the tape and presenting it in an extremely biased and dishonest way) by recording people without their consent (in Maryland, at the least). I don’t feel that the Walker prank call was wrong in any way. If O’Keefe had presented the videos in good faith (uncut and in unbiased fashion), then I wouldn’t have had (much of) a problem with what he did (except where it was illegal) – I think that he used a legitimate journalistic technique in such a way that he should lose all journalistic credibility forever, but that’s a different question. This birther video seems kind of sleazy and I’d have to know more about the circumstances to comment on the legality, but it’s not clear to me exactly where it falls on the whole free speech/invasion of privacy spectrum…

  12. avatar
    Expelliarmus March 9, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Birther coverage on CCN:

    Have you heard of Artificial Intelligence? Well, here is Artificial Stupidity:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-8-2011/indecision-2012—indecision-edition—reagan-os-911

    (Birther stuff begins at about the 2:20 mark)

  13. avatar
    Keith March 9, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Expelliarmus:
    Birther coverage on CCN:

    Have you heard of Artificial Intelligence?Well, here is Artificial Stupidity:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-8-2011/indecision-2012—indecision-edition—reagan-os-911

    (Birther stuff begins at about the 2:20 mark)

    😀

  14. avatar
    Black Lion March 9, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Déj Vu: James O’Keefe Releases Yet Another Suspicious Video
    March 08, 2011 6:54 pm ET by Mike Burns

    Conservative activist James O’Keefe has released a video which supposedly shows Ron Schiller, a senior NPR executive, making controversial remarks to two people posing as members of a “Muslim Brotherhood front group.”

    Given O’Keefe’s long history of doctoring video and using dishonest tactics, this latest release warrants much skepticism.

    The video is posted on O’Keefe’s site Project Veritas, along with a disclosure that it “does contain one brief section in which the audio is redacted in order to ensure the safety of an NPR overseas correspondent.” The redacted portion starts at about 00:59:43 and ends at about 01:01:00. This is not the portion being called into question.

    The suspicious portion starts at about 1:39:46. At this time, Betsy Lilely, NPR’s director of institutional giving, says, “NPR is” — two words that loop continuously until about 01:40:40. Meanwhile the video continues to change (with a waiter apparently serving food) and the timestamp continues to run.

    Now, this could have been a mere glitch in the audio. Those things happen. But keeping in mind O’Keefe’s propensity to engage in deceptive editing, this raises a serious question: why point out that a section of the video has been redacted and then not point out this portion? Had it been an audio glitch and had O’Keefe indicated such, it would have been less suspicious. But the fact that O’Keefe made no mention of this portion is highly suspicious and makes one wonder if O’Keefe is hiding something.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103080042

    Why Would Anyone Trust What O’Keefe Says About His NPR Video?
    March 08, 2011 12:57 pm ET by Todd Gregory

    Conservative activist James O’Keefe has released a video purporting to show an NPR executive making inflammatory comments to two people posing as members of a “Muslim Brotherhood front group.” As has been the case in the past, conservative media outlets and blogs are hyping O’Keefe’s video.

    It’s not clear why anyone would believe anything that O’Keefe says about what is seen in the video.

    O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge for entering Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans under false pretenses.
    O’Keefe falsely claimed that his ACORN tapes were a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” that implicated many ACORN employees. In at least six of the eight heavily edited videos, either the activists did not clearly tell the ACORN employees that they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit.
    Three separate investigations cleared ACORN workers of criminal wrongdoing, and a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that O’Keefe’s surreptitious videotaping may have broken laws in California and Maryland.
    O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart withheld an exculpatory ACORN video from Los Angeles for two months in late 2009, during the height of the ACORN frenzy.
    A September 18, 2009, New York Times article reported that Liz Farkas, a college friend of O’Keefe’s while at Rutgers University, said she “grew disillusioned” after O’Keefe asked Farkas to help deceptively “edit the script” of a video involving a nurse at the University of California at Los Angeles.
    In a 10-minute video posted on BigGovernment.com in June 2010, O’Keefe stated that he had been hired as a Census worker and attended two days of training. He said, “What I found were Census supervisors systematically encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets.” The video includes clips of census leaders, who according to O’Keefe, “didn’t seem to have a problem with the discrepancy” of the hours recorded on his time sheet versus the hours he claimed to have worked. O’Keefe omitted a clip that was later aired by ABC, which shows a census leader emphasizing the importance of accurately reporting on miles driven by census enumerators.
    O’Keefe reportedly planned to “seduce” and publically humiliate CNN investigative reporter Abbie Bourdeau. In an article posted at CNN.com, Bourdeau reported that when she arrived for an interview with O’Keefe, she was informed by O’Keefe’s colleague Izzy Santa that O’Keefe planned to lure her aboard a boat where he would secretly record his attempts to “hit on her” using “strawberries and champagne.” Boudreau reported that a document she obtained suggested O’Keefe would also use props including a “condom jar,” Viagra, pornography, a ceiling mirror, and “fuzzy handcuffs.” The document explained the motivation: “The joke is that the tables have turned on CNN. Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.” O’Keefe later claimed that he had been “repulsed” by the scenario laid out in the document when it was presented to him, and that it did not represent his actual plan for the interview.

    Given his record of systematically misleading people about his videos and his use of other dishonest tactics, it makes no sense for people to take him at his word. That should be kept in mind as details emerge about what, exactly, happened.

  15. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 9, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Significant updates have been added to this article.

  16. avatar
    Dr Kenneth Noisewater (Bob Ross) March 9, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Slartibartfast: O’Keefe also broke the law (in addition to editing the tape and presenting it in an extremely biased and dishonest way) by recording people without their consent (in Maryland, at the least). I don’t feel that the Walker prank call was wrong in any way. If O’Keefe had presented the videos in good faith (uncut and in unbiased fashion), then I wouldn’t have had (much of) a problem with what he did (except where it was illegal) – I think that he used a legitimate journalistic technique in such a way that he should lose all journalistic credibility forever, but that’s a different question. This birther video seems kind of sleazy and I’d have to know more about the circumstances to comment on the legality, but it’s not clear to me exactly where it falls on the whole free speech/invasion of privacy spectrum…

    More so than that. As I stated above, O’Keefe’s plan started with ill intent specifically to destroy Acorn’s reputation and essentially get the organization shut down. The prank caller on the other hand, was just playing a prank, he didn’t systematically go about trying to destroy Walker’s administration. Also O’Keefe comes off as a spoiled rich brat who thinks poor people shouldn’t get any help even though most of his education and pranks have been funded by right wing groups. Notice how his targets are usually low level no power employees who help predominantly minorities. If O’Keefe really believed he was able to make a big difference, why isn’t he targeting those with actual power?

  17. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 9, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Significant updates have been added to this article.

    Nice Doc – I guess my bringing O’Keefe into the discussion was directly on-topic after all…

    p.s. You may want to take a look at what MichaelN said at 2:43am on March 9th on the Calvin’s case thread…

  18. avatar
    bob March 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Also, it is clear from the context that the NPR official was saying there’s a difference between the fact that the dispute exists, and that there’s a factual basis for the dispute.

  19. avatar
    Seizethecarp March 11, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Per Dr. Conspiracy:

    “When asked about the Science Desk coverage of global warming denial, Schiller said that the Science Desk was about science and global warming is recognized scientific fact. He said that debate over the issue might be covered as a political issue, but it’s not science.”

    Actually, it is Betsy Liley who can be heard saying that on the tape. Dr. C, you have omitted the most important statement by Liley which came immediately after that.

    Regarding whether Obama is a citizen, Betsy Liley said “There is still a question…that is a fact”:

    From WND’s transcript:

    “So it’s more complicated than saying, ‘Where was Obama born? In Hawaii or not? Is he an American citizen or not?'” she explains.

    “There’s still a question about whether he is and that is a fact,” she said.

    Read more: Undercover sting catches NPR talking about Obama birth http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=272677#ixzz1GJGEmYCY

  20. avatar
    Black Lion March 11, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    NewsBusters’ Double Standard on Undercover Stings
    Topic: NewsBusters

    When video of right-wing activists pretending to be Muslim philanthropists talking to fundraisers at NPR surfaced, NewsBusters was all over it, churning out (as of this writing) 12 posts in three days promoting the allegations, related claims, and the usual Brent Bozell indignance over it.

    But a couple weeks earlier, when an audiotape of a blogger pretending to be right-wing moneybags David Koch calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to discuss strategy against protesting union workers, NewsBusters wasn’t so receptive.

    In contrast to NewsBusters’ fawning description of NPR punker James O’Keefe as merely a “conservative filmmaker” who “exposed” NPR “as the liberal shills most Americans knew this supposed news organization was,” Kyle Drennen dismissed the Walker punker as nothing but a “prank phone call.”

    This was followed by Lachlan Markay also calling it a “prank” and highlighting the blogger’s “more colorful antics,”going on to complainthat “the man is shameless, and an unethical journalist.

    Of course, NewsBusters hasn’t done any of that regarding O’Keefe, though he indeed has a history of colorful antics, shamelessness, and unethical journalism.

    Ah, but O’Keefe’s lack of ethics and colorful antics serves NewsBusters’ right-wing agenda. And that matters more.

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Seizethecarp:
    Per Dr. Conspiracy:

    “When asked about the Science Desk coverage of global warming denial, Schiller said that the Science Desk was about science and global warming is recognized scientific fact. He said that debate over the issue might be covered as a political issue, but it’s not science.”

    Actually, it is Betsy Liley who can be heard saying that on the tape.Dr. C, you have omitted the most important statement by Liley which came immediately after that.

    Regarding whether Obama is a citizen, Betsy Liley said “There is still a question…that is a fact”:

    From WND’s transcript:

    “So it’s more complicated than saying, ‘Where was Obama born? In Hawaii or not? Is he an American citizen or not?’” she explains.

    “There’s still a question about whether he is and that is a fact,” she said.

    Read more: Undercover sting catches NPR talking about Obama birth http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=272677#ixzz1GJGEmYCY

    Thanks for the correction as to who was speaking. I’ll fix the article. It is not clear whether Liley is saying that it is a fact that questions are raised about Obama or whether she is saying in context that Obama’s birthplace is a fact, not an opinion. In any case, one cannot read it to say that Liley herself has questions — since she earlier says that only Republicans hold that view.

  22. avatar
    Seizethecarp March 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Unlike some other commentators on the left and right who claimed that Liley was lumping “birthers” in with “climate change deniers,” I give Dr. Conspiracy kudos for correctly pointing out that the NPR exec (actually Liley as corrected) was _contrasting_ birthers with climate change deniers.

    However I disagree with Dr. Conspiracy’s statement that “It is not clear whether Liley is saying that it is a fact that questions are raised about Obama or whether she is saying in context that Obama’s birthplace is a fact, not an opinion.” I believe the context and statement clearly express the contrast between birthers and climate change deniers.

    In Liley’s view (not mine) climate change is a fact about which there is no continuing basis for discussion. She pointedly contrasts this irrefutable climate “fact ” (Ha!) with the “fact question” of Obama’s citizenship about which she clearly states her opinion “There’s still a question about whether he is and that is a fact.”

    Parsing, this is clearly Liley herself speaking and expressing her view that:

    1. “There’s still a question about whether he is” (a citizen), and

    2. The question about whether Obama is a citizen, “that is a fact.” (an emphatic way of affirming a fact question as legitimate)

    Liley was apparently blabbing without filter to a complete stranger (and a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated stranger to boot) first claiming that opposition to the “settled” climate change fact shouldn’t be covered in science news in contrast to the legitimate, open “fact question” of Obama’s citizenship which is not settled…but, oh by the way, NPR is not covering that legitimate, but political fact question anyway.

  23. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Seizethecarp: In Liley’s view (not mine) climate change is a fact about which there is no continuing basis for discussion. She pointedly contrasts this irrefutable climate “fact ” (Ha!) with the “fact question” of Obama’s citizenship about which she clearly states her opinion “There’s still a question about whether he is and that is a fact.”

    Parsing, this is clearly Liley herself speaking and expressing her view that:

    1. “There’s still a question about whether he is” (a citizen), and

    2. The question about whether Obama is a citizen, “that is a fact.” (an emphatic way of affirming a fact question as legitimate)

    When analyzing any statement, it’s important to understand the context of the statement, and the context of this statement was a professional fundraiser running off their mouth in a 2-hour dinner meeting with someone waving $5 mil under their nose. I don’t think one should expect to get news division quality commentary out of it.

    That said, what I heard her say was that there were facts which are not reasonably questioned and then there are opinions which are. If NPR had a “history desk” they would report Obama born in Hawaii, while the political desk would discuss questions raised about it. In fact, evidenced by the Google link I provided, NPR has reported Obama’s birth in Hawaii as fact and also covered those who question it.

    I don’t know upon what basis you say: “NPR is not covering that legitimate, but political fact question anyway.” I see plenty of coverage of the political question. “Fact question” is an oxymoron.

  24. avatar
    Seizethecarp March 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Per Dr. Conspiracy:

    “I don’t know upon what basis you say: ‘NPR is not covering that legitimate, but political fact question anyway.’ I see plenty of coverage of the political question. ‘Fact question’ is an oxymoron.”

    Per Betsy Liley:

    “We’re not covering the birthers. We are not covering them”

    Per Seizethecarp:

    The term “fact question” is not an oxymoron but simply common legal shorthand for “a question of fact” as in a fact which is in dispute (whether Obama is a citizen as admitted by Liley to be a fact in question) as opposed to a fact which is not in dispute, such as climate change (per Liley).

    See:
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Question+of+Fact

    IMO, Liley’s comment about NPR not covering flat earth believers was a comparison back to climate deniers, not the birthers. Liley had just contrasted birthers with the climate deniers. Then she realized that she had accidentally made an argument for NPR to cover birther questions (“There’s still a question about whether he is (a citizen) and that is a fact”) and she had to backtrack to emphatically deny any NPR coverage of birthers.

    NPR does not cover Obama’s refusal (and failure of transparency) to sign a legal release for Hawaii to disclose all of his HI vital records.

    NPR does not cover the fact that only a certified 2007 computer printout has been shown to Factcheck, and even that has never been sworn to as being authentic or subjected to forensic examination. Factcheck staff with no forensic credentials don’t count. HI DOH staff at one point said Obama’s COLB was authentic, but when pressed they admitted that it only looked authentic.

    NPR does not cover arguments by legal scholars who claim that “natural born citizen” means born of US citizen parents on US soil.

    See:
    http://naturalborncitizen.wordpress.com/

  25. avatar
    Seizethecarp March 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Per Dr. Conspiracy:

    “I don’t know upon what basis you say: ‘NPR is not covering that legitimate, but political fact question anyway.’ I see plenty of coverage of the political question. ‘Fact question’ is an oxymoron.”

    Per Betsy Liley:

    “We’re not covering the birthers. We are not covering them”

    Per Seizethecarp:

    The term “fact question” is not an oxymoron but simply common legal shorthand for “a question of fact” as in a fact which is in dispute (whether Obama is a citizen as admitted by Liley to be a fact in question) as opposed to a fact which is not in dispute, such as climate change (per Liley).

    See:
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Question+of+Fact

  26. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 13, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Seizethecarp: “I don’t know upon what basis you say: NPR is not covering that legitimate, but political fact question anyway.’ I see plenty of coverage of the political question. Fact question’ is an oxymoron.”

    Per Betsy Liley:

    “We’re not covering the birthers. We are not covering them”

    Liley was not involved in the editorial side of NPR and so is not an “expert” on their coverage. In my original statement, I provided a Google search that demonstrates a large number of NPR stories that mention birthers. Those results are an indisputable fact.

  27. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy March 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Seizethecarp: Per Seizethecarp:

    The term “fact question” is not an oxymoron but simply common legal shorthand for “a question of fact” as in a fact which is in dispute (whether Obama is a citizen as admitted by Liley to be a fact in question) as opposed to a fact which is not in dispute, such as climate change (per Liley).

    As far as I know Liley is not a lawyer. In the conversation a distinction was made between established fact and opinion. The speakers used terms indicating that facts are matters of general consensus and controversy over facts is not reported by the science desk.

  28. avatar
    Slartibartfast March 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    What do you know, James O’Keefe edited the NPR tape in a dishonest way… and he’s such a clean-cut young propagandist!

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/14/134525412/Segments-Of-NPR-Gotcha-Video-Taken-Out-Of-Context

    Seizethecarp,

    Do you care to revise your opinion of the meaning of Ms. Liley’s statements in light of this new information? This just goes to show that anything that has Mr. O’Keefe’s name on it should be instantly discredited…