The Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella group for state and local Tea Party groups around the country, is rallying its supporters against NPR in response to hidden camera footage of an NPR executive, Ron Schiller, describing the movement’s members as “seriously, seriously racist people.”
The video was filmed by James O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, and featured the group’s members having lunch with Schiller while posing as a phony Muslim advocacy group interested in donating $5 million to NPR. In addition to his comments on the Tea Party, Schiller is shown in the video saying that NPR does not need federal funding, which the Patriots argue demonstrates that House Republican efforts to cut the news organization’s funds are on the mark.
“Mr. Schiller himself candidly admits in the video that NPR doesn’t need federal funding, and welcomes the opportunity to slant their reporting without the oversight of the taxpayer,” Mark Meckler, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots wrote in an e-mail to supporters today. “At a time when the country is upside down by more than a trillion dollars, can we really afford to provide huge subsidies to entities that openly state that they don’t need the money? Let’s take his advice and pass legislation that would defund the clearly biased news organization that is out of touch with Americans across the country.”
Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin also targeted Schiller’s comments, writing that they were “indicative of the mentality of ruling elites who are threatened by the power of the Tea Party Patriots. This bizarre behavior comes at a time when Americans are taking their country back through the legislative process. Political victory has led to policy victory, and the elite had better wake up to the new reality.”
The e-mail called on Tea Party Patriots members to contact their members of Congress to keep pressure up against NPR as the House and Senate debate whether to defund the organization. The House has already passed a bill that would cut NPR’s funding and Senate Republicans introduced similar legislation this week. NPR has put out a statement in response to the video saying the organization is “appalled” by Schiller’s filmed remarks.
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.