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Friday, March 11, 2011

Falling For it Again

by digby

I can hardly believe this, but it looks as though Glenn Beck's website The Blaze, has done some serious analysis of the James O'Keefe NPR tapes and found that they were .... edited.

Shocked? I knew you would be.

1. Muslim Brotherhood connections

Much of the consternation over this video centers on the question of why would NPR executives meet with a group connected to Muslim Brotherhood. Did they know? And if Muslim Brotherhood is mentioned, how are the ties characterized? Is the edited video misleading on these points?

In this first section, the narration describes the players and says the NPR executives were preparing to meet with the members of “Muslim Education Action Center.” The narrator then describes the MEAC as a “Muslim Brotherhood front group.” It does not explain how the NPR executives would have a basis to believe they were meeting with a Muslim Brotherhood front group.

The raw video helps us evaluate how the NPR execs might perceive the men. The men describe themselves as board members but indicate that they are at lower levels in the organization…one of them explaining that he is relatively new to the board…the other saying he works in mostly an “observation basis.” You will see that in this clip.

Further, we compare the edited video with the raw video on the important section of how the actors describe the role/connection of the Muslim Brotherhood to their efforts. The edited video includes a reference to some of the original founders of MEAC being members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. Is this the only reference and basis for the NPR execs to consider MEAC to have a Muslim Brotherhood connection? The raw video also includes a longer section of description that seems to downplay connections of the MEAC group to the Muslim Brotherhood as popularly perceived.

2.Does Ron Schiller react to “Sharia” mission statement with amusement?

The narrator notes that the MEAC website includes this phrase: “We must combat intolerance to spread acceptance of Sharia across the world.”

Sharia is defined as “the sacred law of Islam.” But the interpretation of that definition has many variations across many Islamic traditions. That alone would not be a firm clue for the NPR executives of the group’s beliefs.

Of greater concern, though, is how the video is edited at this juncture.

So after saying that the MEAC website advocates the “acceptance of Sharia,” the video cuts to the NPR exec saying, “Really? That’s what they said?” The cadence is jovial and upbeat and the narration moves on. The implication is that the NPR exec is aware and perhaps amused or approving of the MEAC mission statement. But when you look at the raw video you realize he was actually recounting an unrelated and innocuous issue about confusion over names in the restaurant reservation.

3. How does Schiller describe Republicans?

Schiller’s negative comments about Republicans and conservatives have gotten a great deal of attention.

He clearly says some offensive things, while being very direct that he is giving his own opinion and not that of NPR. Still — a wildly stupid move!

But you may be surprised to learn, that in the raw video, Schiller also speaks positively about the GOP. He expresses pride in his own Republican heritage and his belief in fiscal conservatism.

4. The “seriously racist” Tea Party

NPR exec Ron Schiller does describe Tea Party members as “xenophobic…seriously racist people.”

This is one of the reasons why he no longer has a job!

But 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? See what you think:

5. Are liberals more educated than conservatives?

You may also have seen a section of the video where Schiller describes liberals as more educated than conservatives. But the raw video shows a section where Schiller is hesitant to criticize the education of conservatives and the other executive, Betsy Liley, is outspoken in her defense of the intellects of Fox News viewers.

Would it have been fair to include the broader range of the executives statements? The impression of the original video, that the execs were only hostile toward Republicans and conservatives, is incorrect.

6. Does NPR need federal funding?

Let’s look now at one of the other sections most featured in news reports about the original video — the comments about federal funding for NPR.

Schiller says that NPR, “in the long run,” would be better off without federal funding and that most of the stations would survive a loss of such funding. The implication is that Schiller does not believe federal funding for NPR is important. In the raw video, however, Schiller explains the risk to local stations in more detail and why NPR is doing “everything we can to advocate for federal funding.”

7. Audio issue number one

In the release of the raw video, there are two sections where the audio becomes an issue.

In this first clip the video (complete with “timecode” stamp) continues to play while the audio goes into some kind of glitchy loop.

This could be an actual glitch, though not one I’ve seen like this in 25 years of working with video editing.

It could also be a “glitch” edited into a loop to cover a section of the recording on purpose.

In any case here it is:

8. Audio issue number two

The video producers “redacted” a 1:24 section of the audio. They explain that this is for the “safety of a reporter illegally in foreign country.”

The implication from the editing is that Betsy Liley is describing the activities of the reporter in question:

The Blaze contacted NPR to see if Liley recalls the nature of her comments here, but thus far they have been unable to accommodate our inquiry.


Anyone looking at the edited version of the Project Veritas video would be concerned about the conduct and views expressed by the NPR representatives. But should we also be concerned about the deceptive nature of some of the video’s representations? Some will say no — the end justifies any means, even if unethical. Others may be bothered by these tactics and view similar projects with a greater degree of skepticism.

Uh, that's Glenn Beck's website saying that. If you don't believe them, you can view the tapes yourself. This may not be all of it for all I know.

I would have argued before this that Schiller's views about the Tea Party were no reason for firing him and that there is plenty of evidence to back up his impressions. There most certainly is a racist element in the Tea Party, just as there has always been a racist element in the far right. They are the same.

Think Progress:

Although instances of racist sentiment at Tea Party rallies can be easily found, defenders of the movement argue they are aberrations, if not part of a liberal conspiracy to smear tea partiers.

National surveys of the Tea Party have found that explicit racist sentiment is a strong component of the tea-party make up, in addition to economic conservatism and strong Republican partisanship. The April, 2010 New York Times/CBS News national survey of Tea Party supporters found that they are:

– More than twice as likely as the general public (25% vs 11%) to believe that “the policies of the Obama administration favor blacks over whites.”

Half as likely as the general public (16% to 31%) to believe that “white people have a better chance of getting ahead in today’s society.”

– Almost twice as likely as the general public (52% to 28%) to believe that “too much has been made of the problems facing black people” in recent years.

In a broad study of adults in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and California conducted between February and March, the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality (WISER) asked a number of questions about “racial resentment” — such as whether blacks don’t try hard enough or have gotten more than they deserve. Conservatives are 23 percent more likely to be racially resentful, and Republicans 15 percent more likely than Democrats. However, the institute found that this racial sentiment isn’t simply a byproduct of white conservativism:

[E]ven as we account for conservatism and partisanship, support for the Tea Party remains a valid predictor of racial resentment.

It is untrue, as political commentator Dave Weigel argues, that racism in the Tea Party is merely reflective of its conservatism. The WISER study found that compared to other conservatives, Tea Party supporters are:

25 percent more likely to have racial resentment.

27 percent more likely to support racial profiling.

28 percent more likely to support indefinite detention without charges.

They also believe that blacks and Latinos are far less hard working, intelligent and trustworthy than other people.

I know that many liberals inside the beltway don't want to believe that the Tea Party is as motivated by social conservatism and racism as it is by fiscal hawkishness because that means arguments must be waged about issues they find unpleasant. But the Tea Party is the same old, same old far right of the Republican party and they have always been more than fiscal hawks and patriots . You can pretend that it isn't so, but it won't change anything.

The damage in this case is is done and it's worse than people realize. If NPR is able to salvage its funding --- and if ACORN is any indication that's far from assured --- NPR will likely be covering the Tea Party with even more reverence than they already did, which was substantial, and other networks will undoubtedly follow. That's how these things work.

I have a dream that one day when a liberal organization somewhere is "caught" by one of these idiotic stings they will demand to see the whole damned tape before they start firing people. I live in hope.