Conservative prankster targets NPR with new video
Conservative media prankster James O’Keefe is at it again.
This time the conservative filmmaker has allegedly caught a National Public Radio (NPR) executive telling a fake Muslim group that the tea party was full of “racist people.”
In the video, activists Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar of O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas” posed as members of the fictional Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC). The two met with a man identified as NPR Foundation President Ron Schiller. NPR Senior Director of Institutional Giving Betsey Liley was also purportedly at the meeting.
Dana Davis Rehm, NPR’s senior vice president of marketing, communications and external relations, released a statement condemning Schiller’s remarks.
“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,” she said.
“We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for,” Rehm added.
At one point in the video, Adeleye and Templar told Schiller that MEAC was “originally founded by a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America, actually.”
O’Keefe’s group got exactly what they were looking for when Schiller allegedly described the tea party.
“The current Republican party, particularly the tea party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental and Christian — I wouldn’t even call it Christian,” he said. “It’s this weird Evangelical kind of move.”
“The Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It’s been hijacked by this group.”
“The radical, racist, Islamophobic, tea party people?” asked the man posing as MEAC’s Amir Malik.
“And not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic,” Schiller seemed to agree. “Basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America, gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”
The pranksters also claimed they got Schiller to admit that NPR would be better off without government funding.
Cuts to NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) have long been a target of conservative lawmakers. In February, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to eliminate CPB’s funding.
About ten percent of CPB’s funding and one percent of NPR’s funding comes from the federal government.
Following the release of O’Keefe’s latest video, the group Tea Party Patriots quickly called on Congress to completely defund NPR.
O’Keefe first gained the stoplight in 2009 when he released selectively edited videos in that led to Congress stripping the community organizing group ACORN of funding.
The conservative filmmaker had claimed that ACORN employees had instructed him and associate Hannah Giles on how to break the law when they visited ACORN offices posing as as a pimp and a prostitute. It was later revealed that O’Keefe never had posed as a pimp while in the offices.
One of the employees that lost her job as a result of the media hit job eventually sued O’Keefe and Giles.
In 2010, he and three other activists were caught tampering with the phones in the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). O’Keefe was convicted of entering a federal building under false pretenses. He was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine.
Later that year, conservative media personality Andrew Breitbart was forced to distance himself from O’Keefe after the prankster was involved in a failed attempt to “sting” CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau.
O’Keefe had intended to lure Boudreau onto a boat believed to be “filled with sexually explicit props,” where he would seduce her while recording the encounter. In the end, the ploy failed when Boudreau was warned of the ploy by one of O’Keefe’s co-workers.
Breitbart was also caught promoting deceptively edited videos that cost USDA worker Shirley Sherrod her job.
Schiller, who joined NPR in 2009, had already announced plans to leave the organization to become the director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program.
This video is from Project Veritas, uploaded March 8, 2011.
[Ed. note: This post was updated after publication to reflect the statement made by NPR.]