James O’Keefe’s organization has put up what they claim is hidden camera footage of NPR executives slamming the Tea Party over lunch at a Georgetown restaurant with O’Keefe’s pranksters, who were posing as a phony Muslim advocacy group interested in donating to NPR.
In the video released by O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas,” Ron Schiller, president of the NPR foundation, delivers a laundry list of liberal complaints against the Tea Party and remains quiet as the fake donors complain about Jewish control of the media. A spokeswoman for NPR confirmed to TPM that Schiller is the person in the video but did not offer additional information at this time.
“They’re seriously, seriously racist people,” Schiller says of the Tea Party at one point.
Previous tapes by O’Keefe’s group have later turned out to be misleadingly edited, including the video that launched them to stardom featuring O’Keefe posing as a pimp in front of ACORN offices, so it’s worth taking the overall footage with a grain of salt until further details emerge. Last year, O’Keefe’s credibility took another major hit when he reportedly tried to invite a CNN reporter onto his boat to try and seduce her as a prank, an effort that was revealed when one of his own colleagues blew the whistle to the press.
Amid a battle in Congress over NPR’s budget, Schiller suggests on the video that NPR might be “better off in the long-run without federal funding.”
At one point one of the phony donors says NPR’s funding battles are illustrative of “the extent to which the Jews do kind of control the media. Certainly the Zionists and the people who have the interests in swaying media coverage toward a favorable direction of Israel.” Schiller does not respond immediately, but later says that he does not see “the Zionist or even pro-Israel” influence among NPR backers.
“I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers obviously, but no one owns NPR,” he adds. “So I, actually, I don’t find it.”
At another point one of the fake donors complains about the treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood in the press, who he says funds their group.
“Sadly our history from the record … shows that we’ve done this before. We put Japanese Americans in camps in World War II,” Betsy Liley, director of institutional giving for NPR, responds in the video.
News broke earlier this week that Schiller would be leaving NPR to take a job with Aspen Institute, which he is scheduled to begin April 1.
Update: NPR has responded, saying in a statement they are “appalled” by Schiller’s remarks and that their foundation never offered to accept the phony $5 million donation.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.