James O'Keefe

Friday, March 18, 2011


If James O'Keefe is staging guerrilla theater to expose hypocrisy and hate, a la Sasha Baron Cohen of Borat fame, maybe that's no big deal. But O'Keefe claims to be acting in the tradition of undercover investigative muckrakers. Bob asks James O'Keefe about misleading editing, distorted quotes, and how much untruth he is entitled to in his quest for veritas. Listen here to the full James O'Keefe interview

Comments [164]

Diana Parker from Arizona

Bob, you were awesome. You did responsible journalism proud.

Apr. 09 2011 10:21 PM

"On the Media" is apparently Latin for Bob and Brooke let their lib bias fly. There's a reason their show isn't called "Truth".

Apr. 09 2011 11:26 AM
charles from Brooklyn

It appears that O'Keefe is someone who has grown up bathed in the glow of Hard Copy, Geraldo, Fox News and the worst of 60 Minutes - I do not believe that he thinks he has done anything wrong - which is really frightening because he will probably end up with television program and a very loud public voice. He is a lot like Tea Party supporters who have no grasp of history or the workings of the economy and yet they think they should be running the country. O'Keefe is NOT a journalist, but he thinks he is one....

Mar. 25 2011 03:26 PM

It is unfortunate that comments so egregiously manipulated and taken out of context have had such far-reaching consequences, including the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and the recent House bill to defund NPR. If you care about NPR and public broadcasting in the face of this onslaught, join the fight on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=457641440290&v=info

Mar. 24 2011 08:44 PM

BOB GARFIELD: Your organization is called the Project Veritas. What does “veritas” mean?

JAMES O'KEEFE: Latin for “truth.”......
Saying so doesn't make it so. Did anyone in the USSR trust "Pravda" (Russian for "truth")?

Mar. 24 2011 07:59 PM
Sheena Fay from Muskegon Michigan

The chinchilla cape, cane, hat and shades fit this child's play acting perfectly. Little Jimmy wants to be a reporter even if he doesn't have the ability probably his daddy got him a camera and mic so he can be a little fox news hound too! Jimmy sounded like he had a set of words he needed to use..egregious, mitigated, exculpates and now that Jimmy knows how to use them he uses them A LOT in this interview. The end where Bob cuts the interview up to prove a point was funny but could have more teeth to give O'keefe a real lesson in being hung with editing. But that wouldn't have been professional and Bob leaves that for little Jimmy.

Mar. 24 2011 11:39 AM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To Jonnan, Michael Moore's deceptions are well known. His fiddling with the time sequence of layoffs in Flint in "Michael and Me", to suggest that they happened over a short period of time, was even discussed in the mainstream media, though that did not keep them from taking Moore seriously. Dick Morris, Zell Miller, Ed Koch, and the actor Ron Silver all complained that their words were taken out of context in "Fahrenheit 911". The (African-American) teacher who had Bush in her classroom on 9/11 has described how Moore dishonestly edited footage to make Bush look bad. Moore does not make his out-takes available, as O'Keefe does, so liberals live in innocence on these matters, as on so many others.

"Bowling for Columbine"'s very title illustrates the Moore method - the two killers did not, in fact, go bowling the morning they went on their shooting spree. But Moore knows his core audience does not ask him tough questions.

Knickers are in a twist only - only - because O'Keefe targets the Left. If his critics, including those at NPR, were really concerned with journalistic ethics and truth, they would have unloaded on the liberal documentarians, guerrilla video artists, and mainstream producers who patented the methods he is now criticized for. He knows it, too.

Mar. 23 2011 02:12 PM
Aaron Lercher from Baton Rouge, LA

It's important to hear directly from O'Keefe, because otherwise we are left with nothing better than our assumptions about him and what he is trying to do.
So I applaud this interview. Garfield made it a tough interview, and O'Keefe responded in kind.
Whether or not we agree with O'Keefe's methods, his work is very, very effective.
Whether or not we agree with O'Keefe's aims (and I do not) it is necessary to find out about him. Like him or not, we'll be hearing more from O'Keefe.

Mar. 23 2011 01:46 PM
bill costley from Santa Clara CA

re: comment #39, re: "Veritas"

Yes, O'Keefe is obviously a bratoidal Catholicon, but do remember (as he certainly must) "Veritas" is also Harvard's motto, another juvenile un-joke he's enjoying.

Mar. 23 2011 01:07 PM

I don't really understand the decision to interview O'K. That being said, what came out of it was actually sort of interesting in that O'K seems to have been unable to believe OTM is not necessarily the land of his enemy and that he was inviting every attack he received. I wonder if he even knew what OTM tries to be. Maybe he just doesn't understand anything that attempts objectivity before assumption from available evidence. I cannot see him as a reporter, but "guerrilla" fits. The saddest part of all this is that I know several news organizations that actually treat his work as totally sound.

Mar. 22 2011 04:00 PM
Deborah from Indiana

Bob Garfield did a great job exposing O'Keefe's logical fallacies, mendacity, and willful ignorance of reality. Great work OTM!

Mar. 22 2011 02:43 PM
Jim Bear from Philadelphia

Who is being ambushed in these O'Keefe interviews? Is it the people he secretly films or the public viewing the edited copy upon release? It is a skill to distill several minutes or even hours of footage into a compact, well told story. O'Keefe doesn't do that. He distorts more than distills. The public should know he did not wear the pimp costume into the clinic, or Schiller did not laugh at a Sharia law comment. They should be let in on exactly what is happening. We rely on the reporter to give us an honest appraisal of what happened. Claiming other reporters do it is not an excuse.

Mar. 22 2011 12:14 PM
John L from Richmond

This was an excellent interview.

Mar. 22 2011 11:40 AM
Jim Bear from Philadelphia

One thing that was not discussed but I kept wondering is who is being ambushed in these interviews O'Keefe does? Is it the people his is secretly filming or the public that views the edited copy that is released? While it is an important and subjective skill to distill several minutes or even hours of audio into a compact, well produced narrative I don't see O'Keefe doing that. It seems more distort than distill. The public should know he did not wear the pimp costume into the clinic, or Schiller did not laugh at a Sharia law comment. They should be let in on exactly what is happening. I don't see that here. Human nature is lazy when it comes to checking facts or listening to the raw tape. We place reliance in the reporter to give us an honest appraisal of what happened. To claim other reporters do this is not an excuse. These pieces distort to meet the producer's ends. They do not report and have no concept of nuance.

Mar. 22 2011 11:39 AM
Yukon Cornelius from Michigan

Wow! Did O'K really say he was disappointed in the media for their selective editing? Really? Is he that detached from the reality of what he's doing? I thought he was just a deceitful scoundrel. I didn't know he was delusional.

Mar. 22 2011 10:40 AM

John, it's not "mudslinging" - it's called REPORTING and INTERVIEWING and TRUTH. If you spent less time watching and listening to crap paid for by the rich people who directly benefit from you believing their crap, you'd recognize it! Try listening to NPR!

Mar. 22 2011 05:12 AM


Mar. 22 2011 04:48 AM
John from PA

So NPR enters a political back-and-forth with my tax dollars.

Really, though: stop taking public money and you can battle with whoever you want, whenever you want. It's not like I trust someone like O'keefe or care at all whether his reputation is destroyed for the selective editing. What I don't want is to be forced to fund one side of mud-slinging.

Get out of my wallet.

Mar. 22 2011 02:31 AM
gaetano catelli - @LesbiasSparrow from Middle America

re: Judith: "Reading some of the disparaging comments to this program, I fear for the capacity of our citizens to comprehend the challenges we in the United States face today. If comprehension is ever accomplished, it will be due to the efforts of people like you."

another example of the Left's viewpoint that we Middle Americans lack "comprehension". the precise problem of the Left is that we comprehend too well that this is how you view us.

Mar. 21 2011 10:35 PM
gaetano catelli - @LesbiasSparrow from Middle America

we know you NPR leftists think we Middle Americans are dumb and uneducated. one of your (now former) highest representatives is on tape saying so. and now you think we're dumb enough to buy into your trying to weasal out of it.

Schiller chose statements from only 2 of the whole universe of Republicans to hide behind. because, he *agreed* with their contempt for Middle Americans - the very "cherry picking" of data OTM accuses O'Keefe of! then OTM closes with a 'parody' editting that is a thoroughly dishonest misrepresentation of O'Keefe's editting.

Mar. 21 2011 10:31 PM

Thanks Bob.

I found the (full, unedited) interview shocking. I don't agree with O'Keefe's politics, but I assumed he might have a more sophisticated defense of his tactics. He comes off as nothing more than an argumentative bore who craves attention.

BTW - which level-headed "news organization" directed their audience here to disparage OTM and NPR (not understanding the difference) and defend Mr. O'Keefe? I'm truly interested in knowing.

Mar. 21 2011 06:43 PM

So to prove your point you use a photo of Mr. O'Keefe dressed as the pimp? Check and mate!

Mar. 21 2011 05:28 PM
Harry MacLacklin

The funny thing about this interview is that I highly doubt we would have been able to hear the entire raw version if not for the nature of the discussion. I've not listened to a raw version of an interview like this before -- although I am not saying it was never done before.

I found Bob's obvious contempt for Mr. O'Keefe and his overall tone to be quite sad. I really would rather he simply express his disagreement with the tactics and/or editing by Mr. O'Keefe. Instead Bob treated him like he wasn't very bright -- and like he was a dishonest person. He continued to demean the guest in an "NPR" style that is completely smug.

For me, this interview is a prime example of NPR not getting it. The funny thing is that Bob seems to believe he did a good job and that the unedited interview shows him in a positive light. As a listener, I was embarrased for both Bob and NPR.

Mar. 21 2011 04:00 PM

I am not some liberal tree hugger .. I dislike labor unions, loved Ronald Regan, and dislike Michael Moore's films but I loved the show!

I think people could get the most out of it if the listened to the other three show that aired right before this report.

My favorite was the one questioning NPR's political leanings.

My favorite point was a guy who listens to NPR religiously, who is angry when NPR reports contradice their religious beliefs but continues to listen because they give the best news.

The story is followed by a report discussing how one news room was accused of being biased against one side in a story on the arab/israeli conflict but under detailed analysis it was discovered that there WAS a bias ... for peace not for any one side!

I think NPR has the same issue. They are not biased against republicans or democrats per se but ... They ARE biased to being OPEN MINDED ... and this means that if you hold a position simply due to faith or some political conviction that is weakly supported by logic ... You will have issues with NPR at times.

And to be blunt ... I applaud this belief and I firmly believe that NPR should NOT be apologetic in their search for the truth.

Mar. 21 2011 01:55 PM
Steve from Minnesota

Just a couple of thoughts.

I've listened to public radio for years, my brother worked for public radio and one thing that they institutionally take seriously is trying very hard to present the news as straight-forward and truthfully as they can. They are not perfect, but they work very hard at this. They may have a bias, but it is, at worst, severely tamped down in their news stories. Public radio is usually considered boring because the news is just that... news without coloring.

James O'Keefe represents the exact opposite of this. He admittedly has an agenda and produces things to further his, again admittedly, conservative agenda. His work should be viewed in that light. He produces media to further his agenda. He has shown that his willing to bend 'the truth' in order to further his agenda. His goal is entirely different that NPRs. He sees the goal as furthering has conservative agenda, NPRs goal is to just report the news.

My impression is that the big picture here is that there is a discussion going on about a valid political argument. What is the role of government? I wish people would remember that instead of needlessly attacking others. Holding a different opinion on the role of government doesn't make them bad, nefarious, or stupid.

Mar. 21 2011 01:52 PM
MIke White from Westland, MI

I loved this story. O'Keefe trying to throw around five dollar words simply made him sound like the punk kid he is.

Mar. 21 2011 01:47 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

I missed Bob Garfield's disgusted interview with documentarians or mainstream-media producers who have been caught doing exactly what O'Keefe did, but whose targets were not on the political Left. Somebody direct me to it in the archives. Within the past couple of weeks, NPR sent a female reporter in a headscarf through the Canada-US border, though she is not Muslim, to try to sniff out anti-Muslim 'bias' by harried border agents. I missed Garfield's piece denouncing that sort of thing. ABC is sending actors around to try to provoke 'racist' comments at NASCAR events . . . right . . . and into diners to troll for 'anti-gay' biases . . . If Garfield and former 'In These Times' contributor and Hillary supporter Gladstone ever decide, bracingly, to challenge the many herd-instinct listeners to OTM by doing a little compare-and-contrast, I'll acknowledge their devotion to journalistic standards. As it is, they only get their knickers in a twist when the political Left is the target of in-your-face guerrilla tactics and editing that seeks to emphasize an embarrassing storyline.

Mar. 21 2011 12:57 PM
Christopher LeFay from İstanbul

Bob- you've done an excellent job of illustrating the character and nature of O'Keefe's productions; however, as evidenced by a large number of comments here, truth is construed through the lens of the listener's ideological self interest - capable of infinite selectivity, sophistry. Still, you have executed your job -making circumstance plain for whoever cares to see it- well. Journalism fulfilled to its potential and promise - exactly why I tune in. Holding your "contemporaries" to account is a critical act of public service - especially when they have forsaken the cornerstones of the craft to serve themselves. My thanks.

Mar. 21 2011 08:14 AM

The interview was great. I was impressed by points made by both Bob Garfield and James O'Keefe and it was a good example of a hard hitting, yet fair, interview. And yet most of these comments don't even mention the interview at all. How unfortunate that the re-edited interview, which was a very mild ribbing of Mr. O'Keefe, got most of the attention.

Mar. 21 2011 07:58 AM
Steve Thurston from Arlington, Va.

We don't repeat the error. That's a time honored journalistic practice. If we, say, misspell someone's name in a story, we don't write "We misspelled Bob Garfield's name as 'Bobb Garrfield' and we're sorry for the error." We merely write "We misspelled Bob Garfield's name as and we're sorry for the error." Erroneously editing in the way you believe O'Keefe did is a form of that repetition. You shouldn't have done it. Now there's a version of audio that could make its way as a "pass this to your friends" email as truth. You shouldn't have done it.

Mar. 21 2011 07:13 AM
Mike from San Francisco-Bay Area

Bob, I want to thank you for your interview of James O'Keefe.

When called on his "creative" editing, omissions etc... O'Keefe's standard argument was that the liberal media was attacking him etc. He also, as standard practice, tried to avoid answering the questions. Bob did a masterly job of calling him on this and you could tell that he was very prepared for this interview, citing specific examples and cases.

Mar. 21 2011 02:15 AM
MsHart from Minneapolis, MN

For anyone interested in O'Keefe and company's tactics, this little story is instructive:


Mar. 21 2011 02:11 AM
bill costley from Santa Clara CA

Anybody seeing O'Keefe in his pimp gear disguise should have been able to suss him out as a wriggling dweeb.

Mar. 21 2011 01:46 AM
J M M from Helena, Mt

Bob, good job with a difficult interview. What strikes me most about James O'Keefe was the frequent use of convoluted terminology about "logical fallacies" that I have heard from many conservatives. It appears that undercover reporting involves reaching a conclusion and then assembling the evidence that demonstrates the preconceived story. This behavior is a poisonous permutation of journalism and represents the sterotypical contagious and twisted thinking of many conservatives. It is clear why intellectuals are viewed as "liberal" because the honest pursuit of data, scientific objectivity, and ethical behavior are just not part of conservative ethos.

Mar. 21 2011 12:01 AM
J M M from Helena, Mt

Bob, good job with a difficult interview. What strikes me most about James O'Keefe was the frequent use of convoluted terminology about "logical fallacies" that I have heard from many conservatives. It appears that undercover reporting involves reaching a conclusion and then assembling the evidence that demonstrates the preconceived story. This behavior is a poisonous permutation of journalism and represents the sterotypical contagious and twisted thinking of many conservatives. It is clear why intellectuals are viewed as "liberal" because the honest pursuit of data, scientific objectivity, and ethical behavior are just not part of conservative ethos.

Mar. 21 2011 12:01 AM
David Estes from Salt Lake City, Utah

Thanks Bob, I listened to both the edited and unedited version and I heard the same story. This is what editing should be and O'Keefe could learn (if he wanted to) how to tell the truth through editing. Kudos!

Mar. 20 2011 11:59 PM

Much as I like NPR, have to say this one was Garfield 0 and O'Keefe 1, but O'Keefe really did win the debate (which was supposed to be an interview, and why O'Keefe got the 1 point from me personally). Had Garfield kept to an interview, then perhaps I'd be more balanced in my personal assessment, but seems that Garfield was stooping to the same level, and thus giving the lie to his entire premise. In the end, adversarial rather than "balanced".

Mar. 20 2011 09:45 PM
Adrian DeVore from Newark, NJ

James O'Keefe in his interveiw with OTM has reinforced his lack of ethical journalism skills. He was an immature little man who couldn't face being challenged by a legitimate journalist who actually exposed for who he truly. I have grown so tired of his "journalistic" antics that I elected to ignore him.

Mar. 20 2011 09:42 PM

I usually find your interviews fair, Bob. And you did a decent job of cleaning up the full interview for the show.

However, the premise that all lies are equally deceptive is difficult to defend, and is not indisputable, as the formulation (and repetition) of your question implied. And it would preclude a large chunk of investigative journalism wherein small lies (e.g. a reporter's identity to an individual) uncover truly important and damaging ones (governments' or corporations' lies to the public).

Also, I winced at your tone in the unedited interview, laughing at the interviewee as if to declare that he was clearly disingenuous or his argument preposterous. That may have been true, but you have to reveal that through your questioning, otherwise it comes off as petty and unprofessional.

Thankfully, you did remove that from the edited version of the interview, which, unlike O'Keefe's journalism hack job, is a valid reason for cutting up tape.

Mar. 20 2011 09:23 PM
Charles from Michigan

Can anybody explain, in the larger sense, what is the importance of James O'Keefe in the controversy over NPR funding?

Because the last time I checked, NPR Board members, and the NPR News Ombudsman Alicia Shepard and a blue-ribbon panel of Blue-state NPR journalists had all condemned the remarks of Ron Schiller. They condemned Ron Schiller without reservation.

But now, Bob Garfield, and David Folkenflik of NPR News, and Alicia Shepard are all going after James O'Keefe.

Why? It can't be that they now wish to defend Ron Schiller, or Vivian Schiller. NPR fired the two of them. Conservatives didn't fire them. Conservatives don't have any voice at NPR; that much is obvious.

So, Bob; what is the point of the coordinated NPR attack on James O'Keefe? Is this the liberal media equivalent of a revenge killing? If you or anyone at NPR think that it was a hatchet job done on an innocent Ron Schiller, NPR could re-hire him. (The Aspen Institute apparently no longer wants him.) NPR didn't have to fire either one of the Schillers. But it did, and as far as I know, NPR is expressing zero regret for having done so.

So what's the relevance of the James O'Keefe story?

Mar. 20 2011 09:17 PM
Betsy from Boston

Thanks, Bob! That was absolutely great! You have made my week!

Mar. 20 2011 09:10 PM

Newflash to O'Keefe and his supporters here: the ends do not justify the means, no matter how you argue that they do. O'Keefe admitted, with no sense of shame, to numerous deliberate distortions in his ACORN and NPR hit-jobs, but claimed that a larger truth justified his manipulation of information and that what he did is no different than what the mainstream media does routinely.

That is simply not true. Reputable news sources employ personnel who conduct broadcast standards reviews of interview transcripts to determine that soundbites actually reflect the intent of the person being interviewed.

These standards of integrity are sorely lacking in O'Keefe's work. Thus, it was a pleasure to catch Garfield's closing piece re-editing the interview to mirror techniques so smugly and irresponsibly employed by O'Keefe.

For O'Keefe to compare his work to Mike Wallace's undercover exposes shows how little he knows about the standards of quality journalism, and how divorced he is from reality.

Mar. 20 2011 08:56 PM

Listening to this, I was inspired to actually watch the NPR "sting". Watching the beginning, it is very obvious that the wholly false impression the Schiller was mirthfully laughing at the prospect of global Sharia is intentional (I challenge any to disagree) meaning O'Keefe was once again lying through his teeth. I can give his other statements in the interview little credibility this being the case.

Mar. 20 2011 08:52 PM
Andrew Sleeth from Raleigh, NC

Bob Garfield, you're my hero! Thanks for ripping Mr. O'Keefe a new one; he was deserving of it in every way, shape and form.

As a legitimate investigative journalist, I know you can't say it, so I'll say myself: Little sawed-off runts like O'Keefe don't deserve the time of day, much less a fair hearing in the court of pubic opinion. But being the stand-up kind of guy you are, Bob, you gave him one anyway. Consequently, all the world now can conclude he's a lying, duplicitous -- "my heroes are Mike Wallace and my enemies are the mainstream media" -- confused and self-deceived nincompoop.

It's reassuring to know that no one of consequence will take him seriously as time traces his meteoric trajectory into journalistic and personal obscurity.

Mar. 20 2011 08:16 PM
Jim from NoCal

Dear OM, Thanks for editing my comment. I respect your judgment. I do hope that Bob was able to read my comment.

Mar. 20 2011 08:10 PM
Michael Buffer

Not sure this segment should be played in a family setting, because what Bob Garfield did to James O'Keefe on national radio would be illegal in at least 20 states. Garfield absolutely destroyed him, folks -- exposed O'Keefe for what he is, a clever but generally unthinking ax-grinder with not the faintest clue of journalistic standards. O'Keefe won't be able to sit down for weeks. Well played, OTM.

Mar. 20 2011 07:58 PM

Bob. Thanks for calling O'Keefe out.

It will be impossible to believe O"Keefe's "reporting" forever after. Reporters everywhere should investigate everything O'Keefe does from now on and wait a good period of time to see what the investigations uncover before officials react or resign due to O"Keefe's heinous, fabricated muckraking "reports".

Mar. 20 2011 07:46 PM
Reza "The Great" from Somewhere in NY

Brook and Bob:
Are you really kidding me? I am very shocked that you (Brook and Bob) speaking about bias in media. When I came to this country for my graduate work, I did become a fan of NPR (almost 30 years). I still support NPR however, there have been biases and hypocrisies in NPR and NPTV for past 17 years.Some of examples: Scott Simone (weekend edition) for past eight years most of two hours (I time once almost 75 mins.) was devoted to news about a British singer, a writer from Scotland, a math Professor (British origin) but lives in CA. Later, I found out through one of my sources that Scott goes to London and gets free accommodations from all the agents that he promotes those artists. I wrote about this to your resigned chairwoman and nothing has been changed. You will find almost 45-60 mins of the show devoted to British born causes. I have thought that weekend edition was about the whole world and USA. A prairie Home Companion: Garrison has become a multi-millionaire. I have not seen any generous donation from his empire that was made by his show during this tough time to NPR or NPTV. Widow of McDonald Founder did it! Bill Moyers was always against First Bush, two terms of Bush; however, never devote anything about all corruptions that had occurred in last term of Clinton. You gave time to one of your producer from my country: alleging the reason of not going to Iran investigating election fraud. Where were her and her families past 30 years? At the end, I have voted in every election for third party for past 22 years as US-Citizen, since neither party is full of bias and dialectical philosophies. The bias in media had saturated airways and our TV’s regardless of FOX, ABC or NPR. The job of a program such as yours (On the media) as stated by Ira Glass is to point those biases, hypocrisies and dialectical issues by controlling his/her emotions. My hope that you will and not worrying about misguided character such as Mr. James O’Keefe.

Mar. 20 2011 07:26 PM
mark smith from New Jersey

First I heard the Edited interview on OTM, then I listened to the unedited interview between Bob and James. I think that Bob was way more than fair in his handling of James in the interview. I also must say that as a documentary film maker, If what James o'Keefe is practicing journalism. Taking statements out of context, rearranging basic content and the time frame to create a new context which reflects is agenda is not Journalism, Its propaganda, misrepresentation and fabrication.
O'keefe makes 2 bets: 1) the editing conversation will have its desired effects by rocketing around the internet and getting repeated enough so that it becomes "true" and 2) almost no on including the board of NPR will actually listen to the whole unedited conversation before they form an opinion or course of action.

Mar. 20 2011 06:43 PM
Jim from NoCal

Way to to go Bob! It's hard to to kill a rat even when you back it into a corner. Big words and heavy breathing showed he was on the ropes. Nice going Bob. Thank you for dissecting that scum bag with impartial persistence. Perhaps we could get Mike Wallace to set that boy straight.

Mar. 20 2011 06:29 PM
JJ from California

Bob that was a great interview. You left the politics at the door and focused on his 'journalistic style' and uncovered O'Keefe is not a journalist at all. O'Keefe is better suited to make a movie like Borat, although it may not be as entertaining.

Mar. 20 2011 06:08 PM
Jean from California

James O'Keefe clearly thinks the ends justified the means in getting his videos. It was OK to lie to get in the door to film ACORN, it was OK to make up a "Middle Eastern" organization (just think how that'll play on FOX...) to waste the NPR's fundraiser's time, and I think he's also behind the guys who tried to lie to Planned Parenthood staff to try to "sting" them.

So when is it *not* OK to lie? Project Veritas has demonstrated it permits lying, so the question is, at what point does this lying become unacceptable? Extremely hard to see how O'Keefe thinks his ethics eventually add up to anything resembling integrity.

I'd also add: if he DIDN'T lie about ACORN, then how many viewers of his secret tapes can tell me what ACORN actually did, what services it actually provided?

Mar. 20 2011 05:28 PM
Wesley Johnson from Methuen, MA

I was absolutely horrified to hear James O’Keefe cite G.K. Chesterton as one of his heroes.

It was Chesterton who said, “There is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth.” Chesterton also observed that whereas, “The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.” Mr. O’Keefe revels in scandalous half-truths. This, according to Chesterton, is an indefensible vice.

The only thing these two figures have in common is that they both wore capes and carried a cane. Chesterton’s cane concealed a very real iron sword. This was suitable for a man who saw life as a grand adventure. Mr. O’Keefe’s cane, on the other hand, was used to conceal himself, or at least his identity as a partisan on a mission.

Mar. 20 2011 05:25 PM

I couldn't believe NPR followed the discussion of liberal bias by this piece. It seemed to ironically reinforce (if not outright confirm) the preposition that NPR has a liberal bias. Not unlike a kid claiming not to have been in the cookie jar while standing in the midst of cookie crumbs.

Were Bob actually concerned with fairness in reporting, there are much bigger fish to fry than O'Keefe - the question we should be asking is why Bob chose to try frying O'Keefe than any number of potential bigger fish. Dateline, 20-20, 60 Minutes, etc. engage in same or worse tactics, but apparently O'Keefe made the mistake of peeing in NPR's corn flakes.

Mar. 20 2011 05:17 PM
Jack from US

I don't know what Bob Garfield's background is, but judging by the way he handled his interview with James O'Keefe, I find it difficult to believe he ever had any experience with a working newsroom.

But beyond that. Garfield was clearly trying to kill the messenger when an HONEST interviewer would have been trying to debunk the message.

The fact that Bob did not go in that direction can only send the message that regardless of I don't know what Bob Garfield's background is, but judging by the way he handled his interview with James O'Keefe, I find it difficult to believe he ever had any experience with a working newsroom.

But beyond that. Garfield was clearly trying to kill the messenger when an HONEST interviewer would have been trying to debunk the message.

The fact that Bob refused to take up that challenge makes it clear that, in spite of O'Keefe's questionable ethics, the expose was dead on accurate reflection of the political agenda of this NPR executive.

Mar. 20 2011 05:13 PM
Nickolas from Seattle, WA

The thing that really irritated me about O'keefe was his blatant refusal to acknowledge that he himself engages in the tactics he indites NPR for. Instead of finding common ground with Bob he seemed more concerned with working in as many high frequency GRE vocabulary words into his sentences as possible. O'keefe's "sting" operation is legitimate as far as it goes. However, what Bob was taking issue with was his editing of the footage in order to manufacture results he wanted to get. Its one thing to lie in order to get footage; its another thing to lie about the footage you got. But, according to O'keefe its legitimate to doctor footage in his favor to high light his main point. Apparently if someone is guilty of one crime then they are, by O'keefe's logic, guilty of several other related crimes which O'keefe gets to make up at his leisure.

Mar. 20 2011 05:08 PM
Shelly from DC

As a fundraiser, I find it distressing that people are posing as fake representatives of fake organizations to try and catch organizations in unethical behavior. It's a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

But on the other hand, for the senior fundraisers at NPR to not have at least Googled the names of the fake organization and its fake representatives before accepting their meeting is simply mind boggling. Were I the recipient of that call that is exactly what I would do. Right before I involved my senior leadership in deciding the best response to such a move.

However, simply because Ron Schiller behaved stupidly, and I believe, unethically, it does not follow that NPR as an organization is unethical or corrupt. I work in a large organization with many fundraisers, and I have strict ethical standards for myself. I know others who are not nearly as stringent as me. Were they to engage in something this stupid, I think it would be quite unfair and illogical to blame me or my organization for their behavior.

And to pretend that O'Keefe is anything other than a partisan hack is at best overreaching and at worst sheer lunacy.

Mar. 20 2011 05:03 PM
Betsy from Boston

Thanks, Bob! That was great! It really made my day.

Mar. 20 2011 04:00 PM
Betsy Rivard from Atlanta, GA

Veritas?? give me a break! Good interview with a very squirmy, devious guy. My one complaint is the final comment by Bob: "Thanks for doing this." He should explained the meaning of "this." I assume he means,"Thanks for letting me interview you" rather than, "Thanks for doing all of these creepy scams"!!

Mar. 20 2011 03:51 PM
gbw from wisconsin

Gee, I guess we all have different ideas of what's a mountain and what's a molehill. I think that an NPR executive having a negative opinion of the Tea Party is pretty much a molehill. I think that someone pretending to be a journalist editing a tape to slander that executive is a pretty big mountain. I think it says more about the creator of the tape than the target, that it shows what a huge hypocrite O'Keefe is. And I have to agree with Jon Stewart's assessment of NPR, that they are, well, spineless.

One last thing: when O'Keefe claimed his style was part gonzo, I had to laugh. I wish Hunter Thompson was alive and in his prime to show him what gonzo really is. Ah, who am I kidding? O'Keefe would be beneath his notice.

Mar. 20 2011 03:15 PM
Christine LeBeau from New York, NY

O'Keefe is right about one thing, he is exposing that the main street media is not doing their job. If the media were doing their job they would refrain from hyperventilating every time O'Keefe releases a "sting video" and would demand the the unedited footage before jumping to any conclusion.

Mar. 20 2011 01:58 PM
Sylvia Kimmel from USA

How some of the listeners to this program can support O'Keefe, his lies, deceptions and obfuscations is beyond me.

O'Keefe compared himself to Mike Wallace, bull. Wallace always identified himself and 60 Minutes at once.

Bob did a sterling job of bringing out the fraud O'Keefe stands for at every turn.

The demo of how easy it is to edit taped comments was brillant.


Mar. 20 2011 01:06 PM
Michael from Seattle, WA


O'Keefe handed this guy his lunch. The poor guy was left repeating the same attacks over and over again, despite O'Keefe easily disposing of it.

Furthermore, Bob kept saying "I don't trust you...why don't I trust you?" That's interjecting PERSONAL OPINIONS into journalism.

Juan Williams got FIRED for saying he was uncomfortable with Muslims in traditional garb boarding the same airplane. What will happen to Bob for saying that he does not trust his guest? Anything?

I'm looking forward to seeing full, unedited video and tape for ALL interview by the MSM from now on. O'Keefe has set the gold standard for transparency. Who in the MSM will ive up to it?

Mar. 20 2011 12:09 PM

In the version of the interview that aired O'Keefe comes across as a weasel. In the full, unedited interview he comes across as a defensive liar.

Where does his funding come from?

Mar. 20 2011 11:34 AM
Judith from Tennessee

Thanks, Bob. Thanks.

Reading some of the disparaging comments to this program, I fear for the capacity of our citizens to comprehend the challenges we in the United States face today. If comprehension is ever accomplished, it will be due to the efforts of people like you.

Mar. 20 2011 11:21 AM
Linda from Vermont

How about some journalists taking James O'Keefe's and Andrew Breitbart's interviews and editing them and putting them on prime time!

Mar. 20 2011 11:18 AM
mozo from fl

James O'Keefe, Andrew Breitbart and their minions are clownshoes.

Mar. 20 2011 10:59 AM
Robert Hill from New York City

Thanks, Bob, for keeping level-headed. You showed that Mr. O'Keefe is the very definition of "immature" and "sophomoric."

Mar. 20 2011 10:54 AM
Tom from new york

It's a new kind of something ... ?

It's a new kind of simple character assassination, when it consists of falsifying the results, which he has done repeatedly. If he could bring himself to honest reportage of what he learns, instead of selective "construction" out of a mixed bag of ingredients, he'd be a hero. As it is, he's a journalistic quack.

Mar. 20 2011 10:45 AM

Everyone here expressing your disdain and outrage at NPR after listening to this on your local affiliate station: good on ya. Just remember that, after you're done feeling righteous about NPR being publicly de-funded, chances are it will be a lot harder for you to find somewhere on your dial to listen to the lying, truth-twisting liberals.

Mar. 20 2011 10:42 AM
matt fraioli from glocester, RI

Hey blackbelt, this whole interview just demonstrated NPR's value in its ability to examine itself without the constraint of a corporate super- structure. Curious of how most look at the interview as a contest on who bested who, but the winner is clearly NPR who in the process of interviewing Mr O Keefe demonstrated how the trade of responsible journalism is plied.

Mar. 20 2011 09:38 AM
Ray Yurick from United States

I guess you would have to summarize O'Keefe's thesis as: since there is some truth in the report, therefore it is OK to distort, misrepresent, "embellish"? I suppose it's possible that all the media does this, but if so, give us some examples. I don't believe that they do.

Mar. 20 2011 08:38 AM
Ray Yurick from United States

Bob, your giving O'Keefe a taste of his own medicine was brilliant. Most satisfying thing I heard all week.

Mar. 20 2011 07:50 AM
Sko Hayes from Kansas

Charles, the big difference between Murphy and O'Keefe is that Murphy released the entire raw footage of the conversation with Scott Walker, whereas O'Keefe not only cut parts of the conversation out, he moved parts of the comments around to make Schiller look bad.
Walker looked bad without editing.
See the difference?
And what do Murphy's leftist views have to do with his interview with Walker?

Mar. 20 2011 07:44 AM
Charles from Michigan

I searched OTM for the name "Ian Murphy." What I got (unless the OTM search engine doesn't work properly) was "No results."

Ian Murphy was of course the columnist for the alternative weekly, the Buffalo Beast, who spoofed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. By lying to Walker's staff about who he was. Previously, Murphy had written a column entitled, "F**k the Troops." That column began this way [only obscenities have been altered]:
"So, 4000 rubes are dead. Cry me the Tigris. Another 30,000 have been seriously wounded. Boo f***ing hoo. They got what they asked for—and cool robotic limbs, too.

Likely, just reading the above paragraph made you uncomfortable. But why?

The benevolence of America’s “troops” is sacrosanct. Questioning their rectitude simply isn’t done. It’s the forbidden zone. We may rail against this tragic war, but our soldiers are lauded by all as saints. Why? They volunteered to partake in this savage idiocy, and for this they deserve our utmost respect? I think not.

The nearly two-thirds of us who know this war is bulls*** need to stop sucking off the troops. They get enough action raping female soldiers and sodomizing Iraqi detainees. The political left is intent on “supporting” the troops by bringing them home, which is a good thing. But after rightly denouncing the administration’s lies and condemning this awful war, relatively sensible pundits—like Keith Olbermann—turn around and lovingly praise the soldiers’ brave service to the country. Why?"
You might have thought that Bob Garfield would have had a few questions for Journalist Ian Murphy. That is, if Bob Garfield wanted anyone to know about the background of Ian Murphy.

Mar. 20 2011 01:33 AM

Brad wrote:

"I felt bad for you, Bob! You tried your best, so I would assume, to out-maneuver James, but he bested you at every juncture."

People who watch Fox News can be forgiven if they don't understand how professional journalism works. Let me explain. Bob is INTERVIEWING O'Keefe. He's asking him QUESTIONS. The object here is to get the real issues out on the table, and to get O'Keefe to TALK about them. If OKeefe is so "outmaneuvered" by Bob as to be unable to answer, the interview fails.

I learned more about O'Keefe from that interview than from any other source, and it wasn't all bad. That's what makes it a success. It was informative.

Mar. 19 2011 11:15 PM

Sherlock cites a study proving that everyone is biased but Fox. Sherlock, you sure you didn't read that in The Onion?

Mar. 19 2011 11:00 PM
OH from Miami

O’Keefe is working in the same vain as FOX news, "fair and balanced" coverage. The one thing I admire about Republicans is they will go to any lengths to further their goals. The difference with NPR and other legitimate news organizations is they focus on both sides, whether it is Charles Rangel or Jack Abramoff and his cronies. No need for editorial games if it's the truth.
One other thing, Republicans scream about Americans not wanting their taxes going to public radio. I guess they only asked those who agreed with them. I wish I had a choice when I pay my taxes, no money for Iraq, no money for private school vouchers, etc...

Mar. 19 2011 11:00 PM
Helen Solsten from New York City

Thank you again, OTM. What came across to me (in the full interview) from his repeated comments was O'Keefe's naked hunger to get a journalism prize some day. I happily live in the belief that he won't.

Mar. 19 2011 10:32 PM
s katz

There's only one truth. There's not more than one, a different version of one, or an edited version of one.

Like most of the right wing extremists in the US, O'Keefe is incapable of even realizing there is such a thing as truth. As it is with a large segment of the Republican Party that embraces people like O'Keefe, they have no ideas of their own, only their pre-cooked agenda that they believe trumps reality. It appears increasingly that the political purpose of the right wing in the US is destroy the ideals of commonwealth and social contract that make up civilization, so they can then pick through the remains and grab what they can for themselves.

O'Keefe truly is an extension of what today's Republican Party has become: a Party that would just as soon destroy America, in order to make Democrats and Obama look bad. Truth and facts do not matter: the rhetoric of O'Keefe is really all that much different than what comes out of the mouth of John McCain, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor.

To waste a show segment on an obvious cartoon character like O'Keefe when there are so many other pressing issues about truth and reality does a disservice to your listeners, and lends legitimacy to frauds, just as much as having the Westboro Baptist Church on your show. And please, do not take my mention of Fred Phelps as a show recommendation.

Mar. 19 2011 10:00 PM

Christopher wrote:


I'm terribly disappointed in your behavior that would otherwise be reserved for a two year old child not getting his way with the conclusion of this segment. Your application of the "black arts" of editing was disgraceful at best. Regardless of it's intent, and I'm quite sure it was done more out of spite than in the spirit of levity, this type of behavior only reinforces the public's belief that NPR is a biased organization.

I do however thank you for displaying this temper tantrum. I'm gladly taking what was to be my contribution to NPR and handing that sum of money over to Project Veritas. Your behavior proved to me that Mr. O'Keefe will most likely use the money far more constructively for the benefit of society than NPR will.

Thank you!"

Oh, yeah, he was just about to send in his check, before he heard Bob's scurrilous attempt to smear O'Keefe with Buffy the Vampire slayer references. Where's the outrage?

Mar. 19 2011 09:17 PM
Chris from Chicago

Apparently O' Keefe is not the biggest fan of G K Chesterthon, or else he might have stumbled upon this quotation.

"There is a case for telling the truth; there is a case for avoiding the scandal; but there is no possible defense for the man who tells the scandal, but does not tell the truth."

G K Chesterthon (from "The Illustrated London News")

Mar. 19 2011 08:09 PM
J Toner from Philadelphia, PA

Bob, you’ve never tried very hard to conceal your leftist views, and your contempt for the right comes through loud and clear in this interview with O’Keefe.
The NPR/Schiller interview is based on “lies”? Because it’s an undercover sting? Ordinarily, you’d love this sort of thing, but here it’s just lies. So, I guess that all undercover police work is “lies” and should never be trusted, as well? You sounded like defense counsel accusing O’Keefe of setting up your client. But, no, you’re not spinning for NPR. No, no, never.
Then, just in case any listener didn’t get the point, you do an “amusing” fake edit to demonstrate what O’Keefe REALLY did. At least you leave no doubt where you’re coming from!

Mar. 19 2011 07:33 PM
Stevo Rukokuratz from Chicago, Illinois

Where were all the "context keepers" when 60 minutes was running around with secret cameras? It's OK when libs play "gotcha," but when their comrade friends get busted, they scream like raccoons with their tails cut off.

Mar. 19 2011 06:48 PM
Arnie from Akron

Sherlock, you wrote: "You asked for a study showing bias. I gave you a link to a study showing bias, not just about NPR but essentially eveyone except Fox." The result of this study was that every media option has bias except Fox? Really?

Mar. 19 2011 06:38 PM
j.d. from Michigan

We may not be able to determine if NPR has a bias in this discussion, but one thing is clear; the trolls that show up to comment at NPR web pages for stories like these aren't exactly debunking the belief that NPR listeners are smarter than they are.

I would gladly double my pledge to NPR to help secure its future rather than consume whatever these O'Keefe supporters are listening to.

Mar. 19 2011 06:32 PM
Jonnan from Indiana

What I notice is that O'Keefe (and the followers he has here) presume "Everyone does it" in the same way steroid users and people who cheat in class do.

And like steroid users and cheaters - no, actually. By and large it is the people you hang around with that take steroids, cheat, and edit interviews to imply (or flat out say) things that are not true. Michael Moore is a polemicist and I don't trust the man to give both sides of the story - but I've never seen anyone (successfully) of including factually untrue statements or statements edited to reverse the meaning of what was said. Even Rush Limbaugh, who routinely quotes 'factual' snippets out of context to imply things that aren't true, I've never heard accused of this kind of dishonest editing.

This isn't an issue of what 'Mainstream Media' finds acceptable. This is an issue of what James O'Keefe and his apologists find acceptable.


Mar. 19 2011 05:26 PM
John from Austin

O'Keefe is just another pea-brained Repugnican who has to resort to lying to validate his brand of conservatism, as no amount of rational argument or respectable journalism will ever serve to affirm such backward, moronic ideology.

The average schmoe who votes utterly against his own interests by voting Repugnican won't figure out the sheer stupidity of corporate serfdom until until he too is living under a bridge and eating from a trashcan.

We may as well wait another few years until every idiotic conservative is jobless and homeless, or dead from lack of adequate medical care... it won't be too long, and then we can start to repair the damage their ignorance has wrought on our country.

Mar. 19 2011 05:15 PM

I respect O'Keefe for the results he gets, and for how uncomfortable he makes the self-righteous; Bob is exhibit number 1. This is awesome journalism, certainly more valuable than opinionism as expressed by some.

Mar. 19 2011 04:44 PM
Christopher from Boston

I'm terribly disappointed in your behavior that would otherwise be reserved for a two year old child not getting his way with the conclusion of this segment. Your application of the "black arts" of editing was disgraceful at best. Regardless of it's intent, and I'm quite sure it was done more out of spite than in the spirit of levity, this type of behavior only reinforces the public's belief that NPR is a biased organization.

I do however thank you for displaying this temper tantrum. I'm gladly taking what was to be my contribution to NPR and handing that sum of money over to Project Veritas. Your behavior proved to me that Mr. O'Keefe will most likely use the money far more constructively for the benefit of society than NPR will.

Thank you!

Mar. 19 2011 04:19 PM
radiowxman from Atlanta, GA

If you don't like the Michael Moore comparison, how about the "journalist" who got kudos from the left for pretending to be David Koch when talking to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker? The silence on OTM was deafening.

But since NPR is an unbiased news source, I guess it wasn't worthy of discussion.

I have never defended what O'Keefe does, it's gotcha journalism taken to its extreme conclusion -- an amalgamation of Mike Wallace; ABC's "Food Lion" expose; NBC's exploding car stunt; Michael Moore and "Punked."

O'Keefe, the Buffalo Beast, and who knows who else now think this is a legit form of journalism. And the left really only has themselves to blame -- since it was their demons who were originally the victims of these types of shenanigans.

Again, I don't approve of it, but forgive me if I chuckle when one gets hoisted on one's own petard.

Mar. 19 2011 04:17 PM

Bob Garfield,

When Tom Friedman writes about what his brand new cabbie friend just told him, do you believe Tom Friedman really met that cabbie and that that cabbie really told him that?

Most people think Tom Friedman is just projecting his own views onto an anonymous cabbie to make Friedman's views seem more human, and man-of-the street.

If Schiller doesn't name these Top Republicans, why do you Garfield, think they exist?

Mar. 19 2011 04:13 PM

I just heard the interview on the radio, the lightly and appropriately edited one and the one that was heavily edited. I would like to say good work to Bob as O'Keefe was made to look foolish in both versions. It was laughable the way he constantly accused Bob of commiting logical fallacies, while constantly commiting them himself. O'Keefe should just admit that what he did was dishonest and is different from "undercover" journalism. Lying and cleverly editing footage of people or organizations that have different political leanings and practices than one, does not make for good journalism. Again, excellent work on the interview Bob, keep up the objective quality of reporting that the show has continually provided.

Mar. 19 2011 04:08 PM
Keepit Comin from USA

Bob, I thought that was brilliant. I appreciate that you demonstrated the different portrayals of an interview. In your legit interview, O'Keefe was given the chance to defend his viewpoint, and you both came across as decent people having a discussion.

As to the specifics, it would have interested me to learn more about how O'Keefe came to the decision that NPR was a suitable target. Is O'keefe's take-home-message that NPR is a divisive element in American society? Does he recommend that we extrapolate his message of misleading mainstream media to other news organizations?

Mar. 19 2011 03:52 PM
Waka waka from someplace

So sorry that people are beginning to see more of your hatred of conservatives if not middle America in general. It's a damn shame that they are becoming more aware of your sense of entitlement to government largess. And they see that you respond to valid criticism with vindictive arrogance, even while you're presenting yourselves as the gold standard for objective journalism. You don't deserve a single cent of my tax dollars.

Mar. 19 2011 03:23 PM
Milo9 from SoCal

Graduate of Rutgers. We're deep trouble, the product of one of our best universities is a self-important pathological liar who cannot distinguish between truth and fiction.

The shame of this brouhaha, is not that his so called "sting" was doctored to lead to a false conclusion but it was incompetently executed. If money had change hands and the muslim brotherhood was declared on tape to be the shadow donor he would have had something. Of course the vetting process existant in any large charity, cut short his fantasy.

Mar. 19 2011 03:03 PM
Bill from Dayton, OH

I see what James O'Keefe does as a new form of journalism. While his editing is obviously biased, I admire his willingness to release unedited versions of his tape. In this aspect he is more open and unbiased than most traditional journalists.

Mar. 19 2011 03:00 PM
Going Going Gonzo from USA

The MSM is my enemy because it selectively edits, so I am going to selectively edit things too.

If something is bad, and we have to choose between being good or doing the same bad thing as them, we should do the same thing, except say they are bad and we are heroic.

Because I got arrested and sued, I will now post the full unedited tapes as my media "fine print" and in the days it takes people to figure out how yellow my journalism is, my pals in Congress can move legislation right through.

This is because the guys that pay my bills, Koch, Scaife and others are also coordinating the lobbyist efforts and campaign ad efforts. What a team!

Mar. 19 2011 02:42 PM
Diana Arezzo from Arlington MA

Congratulations to Bob Garfield for so powerfully challenging James O'Keefe and destroying his credibility with fearless and highly-informed questions and statements. I'd like to see more of this kind of confrontation by NPR journalists, as happens on the BBC. Politeness and deferential treatment have no place when dealing with the liars, corporate panderers, and apologists for the rich who are attempting to establish a plutocracy, and disenfranchise all but the rich and the evangelical.

Mar. 19 2011 02:10 PM
Bob Gardner from Randolph, Mass.

So O'Keefe's hero is G.K. Chesterton, the anti-semite?

Mar. 19 2011 01:58 PM
vicki from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Bob you are my hero! Listening to this piece this morning made my day. Nice work.

Mar. 19 2011 01:19 PM
DRK from in a hopeless situation

Bye guys. Have a good afternoon talking past one another.

Mar. 19 2011 12:44 PM

"sherlock, anyone mention the implicit and explicit Republican and Tea Party threats against Democrat lawmakers and President Obama?"

Dear Stochast, why yes, "they" have "mentioned" it! That is the WHOLE POINT of most of the comments about media bias here! While the media has been doing a full-court press with allegations of "implicit and explicit Republican and Tea Party threats against Democrat lawmakers and President Obama" for a couple of years now, they are absolutely silent when Unions and Democrats do it explicitly and publicly! That most of the media charges you refer to are made up from whole cloth is actually beside the point (Breitbart's $100K is still unclaimed), it is the fact that "they" in the media have been "mentioning" NOTHING BUT allegations against Republicans, Tea partiers, etc. Sheesh.

"I'm not sure what I've "lost" here."

Dear John, I'd say you have lost the argument. Your last "response" to me is incomprehensible.

Mar. 19 2011 12:39 PM
DRK from in a hopeless situation


Mar. 19 2011 12:36 PM
Rev Snow from Maryland

The defense that Schiller's attacks on the Tea Party were not his own, but were a recounting of comments made by anonymous "top Repulicans" doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The claim is these mystery Republicans privately confessed they voted for Obama as a reaction to a Tea Party takeover of their Republican Party. Obama was elected in November 2008. The spark that launched the Tea Party was Rick Santellli's rant on CNBC in February 2009. The timeline simply does not add up. These mystery Republicans are fictional characters, invented by Schiller in an attempt to add credibility to his own views. Given that, there is nothing misleading in the edited video at all on this point. Why would there be an ethical obligation to retain in the edit a defense or context that is clearly demonstrably false? I can't believe no one has put this together.

Mar. 19 2011 12:29 PM
Not a Chance

What a lying LIAR O'Keefe is!!

He's not even a good, or competent liar, just a lying LIAR!

Mar. 19 2011 12:22 PM
John Clearwater

I have watched the entire video - as edited by O'Keefe at his web site - and even in his highly edited version, with the narrator telling you what you are seeing and hearing, at no time do the members of the fake organization Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) say they are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has a mixed background on committing violet acts, just as conservative groups have also committed acts of domestic terror. The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has denounced violence. Over the years, pro violet members have thus splintered of from the main MB. George W. Bush invited U.S. members of the Brotherhood to serve as Peace Ambassadors to the middle-east and never designated them a terrorist group.

FAIR looked at NPR's programming found they have a slight conservative bias rather than a liberal one


NPR never said it would take a donation from the fake MEAC organization without a background check. In e-mails exchanged among staffers they said they could not find proper documentation for the group and expressed concerns about their suspicious behavior and lack of records from organizations that track charitable organizations such as GuideStar or the Foundation Center. Simply talking to people who want to donate to your cause, who have falsely presented themselves, is not against the law or even a violation of ethics.

What Schiller actually said,

SCHILLER: I won't break a confidence, but a person who was an ambassador -- so a very highly placed Republican -- another person who was one of the top donors to the Republican Party, they both told me they voted for Obama, which they never believed they could ever do in their lives. That they could ever vote for a Democrat, ever. And they did, because they believe that the current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group that is

Mar. 19 2011 12:19 PM
DRK from in a hopeless situation

People! You can't talk to dogmatists! The people who watched the whole O'Keefe video and saw nothing untoward about it see it this way because that's what they want to see. They think Moore is doing the same thing as O'Keefe because that's what they want to think. They listen to NPR and think that it is biased because that's what they want to hear. These people aren't interested in a rational discussion because they think they are in the full possession of the truth, whole and untainted by error. Facts and evidence do not matter to them--so go out and enjoy your Saturday!

Mar. 19 2011 11:33 AM
John from Chicago


(1) "Big Journalism" is not really a neutral or credible source; (2) "alleged" is a term people use to describe "allegations"; (3) I suspect there is a high degree of "thugishness" in Wisconsin, that's the kind of thing one gets in crowds of this sort. I don't think, however, that it's representative of the larger position of the protestors any more than the scattered morons at Tea Party events represent the views of the Tea Party. If it is more than usual, you'll have to do better than a bunch of scattered pictures and video at a website well known for dishonesty--cf. O'Keefe, James.

I'm not sure what I've "lost" here--but it's curious that you view discussions this way. I think you and others have made some pretty weak defenses of O'Keefe and some pretty weak allegations of alleged MSM liberal bias. To my mind, these weak arguments of yours don't entail that your view is false. At best, it would entail that your arguments--the ones you've made--are insufficient to establish your conclusions. That this is the case--i.e., your arguments are weak--doesn't mean my view (whatever you think it is) is true. It just means your arguments are weak.

Mar. 19 2011 11:28 AM
Amir from Tehran, Iran

Well, as an Iranian who lives outside the USA and as someone who's been keeping an eye on NPR and other American broadcasting corporations, I'm utterly surprised to observe this so-called double standard on the part of conservatives. They defend Juan William's First Amendment rights, and at the same time blast Ron Shiller on the basis of manipulated quotes and out-of-context comments. Now I'm wondering which one should be endowed with the blessings of the noun "journalist?"
Republicans, if you don't like NPR or funding allocated for public broadcasting, pleas use more convincing arguments to justify the point. IMHO, compared with all US-based cable channels NPR is more unbiased. Fox News might not receive public funding -- and indeed it doesn't, but as far as the issue of "bias" is concerned, do many republicans refrain from watching it -- and paying for it -- because they think it's biased? Perhaps dictionaries have erroneously defined this term!

Mar. 19 2011 11:24 AM
Kevin from USA

I see O'Keefe or some other right wing rag must be linking here. You'd never the language used by Andrew of IN (#31, unless the comment gets deleted) on any NPR page until today.

NPR should be automatically added to the i-pods of every American until the average IQ increases by 15 points.

(To the new visitors from wing-nut web land: that's a joke.)

Mar. 19 2011 11:21 AM

sherlock, anyone mention the implicit and explicit Republican and Tea Party threats against Democrat lawmakers and President Obama?

Mar. 19 2011 11:10 AM

NPR's not reporting alleged death threats against Walker is hardly sufficient evidence of liberal bias...

You asked for a study showing bias. I gave you a link to a study showing bias, not just about NPR but essentially eveyone except Fox. You pronounce it "hardly sufficient" and narrow it to "threats against Walker", which had you read it you would know is "hardly sufficient".

And "alleged"? Well, innocent until proven guilty and all that (unless you are a Tea Partier, of course), but the Wisconsin Department of Investigations seems to be taking them pretty seriously, and the local newspapers and Fox are reporting them... it's just the rest of the national media, including NPR, that won't say a peep. You are just like my liberal relatives: you demand examples, and when they are provided, deny they are real. You lose.

Mar. 19 2011 11:05 AM
Brad from Horseheads, NY

I felt bad for you, Bob! You tried your best, so I would assume, to out-maneuver James, but he bested you at every juncture.

Mar. 19 2011 10:49 AM
John from Chicago

I'd suggest in any case that those defending O'Keefe not misdirect the discussion onto Michael Moore. Moore engages in a categorically different kind of activity. He doesn't hide himself, and he declars openly that he's expressing his own opinion and point of view. Besides, he has been subjected to critical scrutiny by various NPR programs. Finding one where he is not doesn't support the claim that NPR loves or promotes him. By that logic, NPR loves O'Keefe: http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103150021

NPR's not reporting alleged death threats against Walker is hardly sufficient evidence of liberal bias--any more than their previous failures to subject O'Keefe's work to critical scrutiny is evidence of conservative bias.

Mar. 19 2011 10:40 AM

#45, hellooooo... it's already been done:

Mar. 19 2011 10:26 AM
Elize Nayden from Zurich

Oh and please enjoy NPR's comment on Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11". Curiously the word "shenanigans" does not appear once but NPR is singing praises of Moores "effectiveness". I wonder if they will praise O'Keefe the same way, since he may actually be effective enough to get NPR off the public dole. The other links concerning Moore provided on that page are not better.


@John: You must be kidding. Moores whole film "Roger and me" is based on the lie that Moore is a guy who cant get an Interview with Roger Smith or the latter is a guy who wouldnt give Moore an Interview. What about his Interview with elderly Charlton Heston, introducing himself as a supporter of the NRA?

And if you really think that its the same dishonesty why do you think that Moore receives so much gushing coverage from NPR?

Mar. 19 2011 10:20 AM

#45, meet #44.

Mar. 19 2011 10:16 AM
John from Chicago

Defender's of O'Keefe--

Whether Michael Moore did the same thing (he didn't--he always introduces himself as Michael Moore) is really morally irrelevant (On the media ran critical pieces on Fahrenheit 9/11, by the way). Besides, if it's dishonest of Moore to do whatever you allege, then it's dishonest of O'Keefe.

There is no doubt that (1) O'Keefe provoked the situations about which he was "reporting"; (2) radically distorted the videos to show a reality that wasn't there; (3) lied about 1 and 2.

If O'Keefe believes NPR is biased, or in league with the terrorists, etc., then he can show this the old fashioned way: subject their biased reporting to critical scrutiny, or he can show their illegitimate terrorist funding (it's public record). But he can't do this, because neither of these things is real.

I have no doubt that many "libtards" as some of you call them would find interesting an authentic critical analysis of NPR's alleged liberal bias. I'm sure if it were serious, OTM would even run piece on it.

Now you have a real task. Get to it.

Mar. 19 2011 10:08 AM

Has NPR yet mentioned the Democrat and union death threats against the Wisconsin Governor, Republican lawmakers, and conservative bloggers?

Until that happens, NPR pontification on lying by omission is of no interest to me.

Mar. 19 2011 09:57 AM
Elize Nayden from Zurich

O'Keefe is like Michael Moore?

NPR about Michael Moore und his Capitalism:A Lovestory:
"Over the last 20 years, Moore has made a series of provocative documentaries that challenge American corporations and the government. He points out where he believes institutions have failed the American people, and Capitalism: A Love Story elaborates on that theme."

Somehow I cant see O'Keefe being written about in that way or Michael Moore being interviewed in the way O'Keefe was. Not on NPR anyway...

Mar. 19 2011 09:50 AM

Seth Parson wrote:
"Nobody is attacking Ron Schiller's right to free speech. Conservatives didn't fire him. NPR did. And they undoubtedly did that for a whole host of reasons:"

That's a good point, Seth. In the end, NPR did hold Ron Schiller to the the highest ethical standards, just like they did with Juan Williams. I'm glad that their meticulous even-handedness isn't lost on you.

Mar. 19 2011 09:40 AM

That was extremely well done. Bob is rarely so confrontational, but O'Keefe is an appropriate subject for this kind of scrutiny, and you were clearly taking great pains to give O'Keefe grudging credit for his accomplishments, and give him an opportunity to speak for himself. The interview was especially well edited. who does your editing? Just kidding.

I wonder why no one ever mentions Michael Moore when trying to put Mr. OKeefe in cultural context. The analogy seems a lot more obvious than Borat.

Mar. 19 2011 09:32 AM
RK from MN

I'm embarrased for O'Keefe. He shouldn't be defending his shennanigans for anything more than they are: fishing-- with dynamite. But when the ol' catfish pond is so full of carp you can walk across without getting your toes wet, using a little dynamite is nothing to be ashamed of.

Mar. 19 2011 09:21 AM

NPR would do well to take inventory of its own ethical standards before scrutinizing young O'Keefe's peccadilloes.

Mar. 19 2011 09:05 AM
Terry McKenna from Dover NJ

By the way, to Bob and Brooke, since you did not spend you childhood in Catholic schools, you ought to know that "Veritas" is a clue that O Keefe comes from the ardently Catholic. These are true believers and to understand true believers, please read Eric Hoffer.

Mar. 19 2011 09:00 AM

Had these employees at NPR been doing their jobs honestly, they would have never been on tape saying what they were saying! Great job, James O'Keefe! BUSTED, NPR!

Mar. 19 2011 08:35 AM

O'Keefe is right, all stories contain edited content. But no real journalist is going to copy the answer from one question and paste it onto another question - ever.

I thought On the Media gave him clear opportunity to explain himself, at which point he should have just stated the obvious - he "adjusted" real life for better ratings.

Mar. 19 2011 08:27 AM

This is the state of "journalism" today. NPR just doesn't like the fact that it is equal opportunity.

Mar. 19 2011 08:22 AM
David White from Brooklyn, NY

O'Keefe, like many of his ilk, thinks he has a monopoly on the truth. He thinks the obfuscation and dishonesty is the sole preserve of his enemies. I will take him seriously when he does a piece asking his friends how they benefit from their tax breaks and why they should enjoy those tax breaks. Until then he is merely another guy who is suffering from status anxiety.

As for Ron Shiller, his suspension of disbelie was hopelessly naive.

Mar. 19 2011 08:20 AM
Sko Hayes from Kansas

Ron Schiller was the chief fundraiser for NPR. Do you think he is allowed to make the decision on whether to present offers of large multi-million dollar donations on his own, or would he be required to go back to the board and present the offer, regardless of who it's from, and let them make the decision?
Secondly, NPR investigated the group, which in the tape, claims to be a 501C3 non-profit, and couldn't find the group registered anywhere, which raised red flags. They asked for more information, and were not provided any.
At that point, they decided to take no further action, and thus declined the donation.
I'm not surprised you haven't heard this, unlike the heavily edited O'Keefe tapes, this part of the story got little enough attention.
As to the interview, well done, Bob. You were extremely kind to O'Keefe, and ten times more polite to him than I would have been.
That part where he talks about the "media not telling the truth" after you had just finished pointing out the moving around of audio to make Schiller look bad, well, you could spread that irony around with a butter knife.

Mar. 19 2011 08:13 AM
VoteOutIncombents from Grand Rapids MI

NPR should be defended along with CPB not because they are biased (they are very liberal) but because we just can't afford lots of stuff we used to.

Everyday this year the federal government must borrow five billion dollars just to survive.

Mar. 19 2011 08:12 AM
Andrew from Michigan City, In.

Ron Schiller is an idiotc libtard, sitting-having lunch with a couple guys of who he thought were Muslim Brotherhood, drinking and talking alcohol... he's lucky he didn't get his libtarded pinhead lopped-off.

Mar. 19 2011 08:11 AM

Hey Bob, I listened and you were, as always, predictable. Thanks for not disappointing!

Mar. 19 2011 08:10 AM
paul w from queens, nyc

Very informative show. Congratulations for uncovering the tactics that tv and radio reporters along with producers of other media often employ to further their own agendas.

O'Keefe may have used a lot of big words - good for him. He still came across as unethical and unprofessional, not to mention very dishonest and contradictory.

Excellent broadcast, On The Media.


Mar. 19 2011 08:10 AM
David Conley from Red Bank, NJ

After listening to the piece, I wonder if anyone at NPR ever called Michael Moore a liar. I don't know the answer, but I don't recall hearing such negative reaction to his "Fahrenheit 9/11."

It seems that O'Keefe's piece hit some nerves at NPR, raising the question of why, protecting the nest or reinforcing the bar on the door?

The rapid, no-arguments departures of the NPR executives seem to indicate that O'Keefe's message, even as edited, is correct.

Over the years On The Media has been one of my favorite programs for the way it keeps the Media accountable. This piece makes it seem like you cannot take your own medicine. But don't stop dishing it out. We need you.

Mar. 19 2011 08:02 AM
Mike from Carson City

What makes you think O'Keefe is "fishing?" I find it hard to believe he was simply "fishing" with this NPR investigation, given how much must have been invested in it. That makes me wonder what these guys knew.

Mar. 19 2011 03:20 AM
David Amann from Redwood City, CA

Just listened to both the edited and full interview of O'Keefe. A tremendously captivating and sad piece.

Throughout the interview, O'Keefe never really got the subject: Are the tactics that O'Keefe uses unethical or damaging to journalism? O'Keefe consistently believes he's in a debate over whether Schiller's or ACORN employees behavior is legitimate or not.

What O'Keefe does not understand about the undercover journalism of the style Mike Wallace is that Wallace's undercover/ambush technique was the last step of a very long process. Wallace would first do the tremendously difficult job of, as best as they could, finding out what the facts of the story were before they staged their undercover sting to hilight those facts.

O'Keefe, on the other hand, uses the undercover techniques themselves as a fishing expedition to seemingly verify assumptions he's made but has not verified independently.

Reminds me of the quote, "Trust those who seek the truth, not those who've found it."

Mar. 19 2011 01:31 AM
Chris from Chicago

Just finished the unedited interview. Nice work Bob. I wish the rest of NPR had the stones to call a lie a lie.

NPR avoids big PR battles like the plague, but throwing their employees under the bus is idiotic and counterproductive. Anyone who watches the videos (aside from the O' Keefe fan club that showed up in this thread) can see he completely eliminated all context to misrepresent what happened. He couldn't defend himself, he just said "Well other media outlets COULD be doing it too, have you watched EVERY unedited interview ever?" He feels he's justified being a propagandist because "the liberals do it too," yet couldn't even cite one example.

Mar. 19 2011 12:50 AM
mark e

apparently the leftist hacks hiding behind the facade of "journalism" only like sting operations that target conservatives. you hacks at npr are THE SAME as okeefe except operating to attack the right while he goes after the left and it makes you feel threatened. also, he is at least honest about his political leanings and not demanding tax payers to fund him, unlike the ungrateful leftwing hacks at npr

Mar. 18 2011 11:28 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

I didn't say they took a check. I said they absolutely did not "reject" anything. They were trying to move the process forward. Again - go watch the videos. I have. You clearly have not.

Mar. 18 2011 10:56 PM
Kevin McKague from Davison, MI

Seth, show me one link from a reputable source that says NPR took a check. The refused from the beginning not to take money from this fake group because they couldn't find any tax records showing that they were real.

Mar. 18 2011 10:43 PM
mike from Mass

What is wrong with O'Keefe busting people and saving taxpayers money. The Muslim Brotherhood is a thuggish group. What is wrong with taking money from people who oppress women, enslave their followers and stone rape victims and homosexuals? You tell me.

Mar. 18 2011 10:31 PM

What's wrong with taking money from the Muslim Brotherhood to anyone who isn't a racist? It's not illegal.

Mar. 18 2011 10:16 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

Kevin, you clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about. All of it is true. Go watch the video, come back when you've educated yourself.

NPR didn't fire him for saying mean things about the Tea Party.

Mar. 18 2011 10:12 PM
JAY from Arlington VA

NPR is right. I have reviewed every NPR full unedited video and audio. NPR has never abused their editing power to shape a story or shade the truth. You don't have to take my word for it. Just review NPR's full audios and videos available at ... Just a minute I have the URL somewhere. Here it is. No that's O'Keefe's. I'll find . Hold on.

Mar. 18 2011 09:54 PM
Kevin McKague from Davison, MI

None of that is true Seth, it is you that needs to rewatch the unedited video.

Mar. 18 2011 09:49 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

And also Kevin,

Schiller didn't say "there are some nutty elements in the Tea Party." He was casting a remarkably more expansive net than that. It is very much an absurd belief to suggest that the Tea Party is in any way more racist than any other organization, including NPR. Even Mary Francis Berry acknowledges this.

Nobody is attacking Ron Schiller's right to free speech. Conservatives didn't fire him. NPR did. And they undoubtedly did that for a whole host of reasons:

1. Trying to solicit/accept money from a Muslim Brotherhood front group
2. Asserting that Jews "certainly" control the newspapers
3. Asserting that NPR would be better off without government money
...and on, and on, and on...

Mar. 18 2011 09:43 PM
Chris from Chicago


What people don't realize is NPR lives and dies on its reputation which is why they immediately fire ANYONE caught saying ANYTHING controversial. It's why they fired Shiller, and why the banned their employees from even attending Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally. I don't know why people believe NPR should fire employees who privately say controversial leftwing things but not fire employees who say controversial rightwing things on in front of millions of people on cable tv.

If you were against Juan Williams being fired, you should be against Shiller being fired.

Mar. 18 2011 09:37 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

Kevin, no NPR most certainly did not reject the donation from this Muslim Brotherhood front group. Just listen to the full tapes - both the video of the lunch and the phone calls afterward.

By no stretch of the imagination did these NPR executives somehow shut the door on the donation. On the contrary they were quite eagerly trying to move the process forward.

The fact that NPR has been trying to lie about this and claim otherwise is astonishing.

Mar. 18 2011 09:37 PM
Kevin McKague from Davison, MI

Chris is correct, it isn't exactly a fringe argument to think that there are nutty elements in the Republican Party and Tea Party.

By the way, did you notice that conservatives defended Juan Williams First Amendment rights and said he was just expressing his honest opinion about Muslims, yet when an NPR employee expresses an honest opinion also shared by millions of Americans, it never occurs to any of them to defend his right of free speech.

Mar. 18 2011 09:28 PM
Kevin McKague from Davison, MI

Seth Parsons, NPR refused the check.

Mar. 18 2011 09:22 PM
radiowxman from Atlanta, GA

Taking quotes out of context, manipulating video, taking absurd premises to the extreme, putting subjects into impossible positions....

Sounds like James O'Keefe learned his craft from the king of this type of media -- Michael Moore.

Mar. 18 2011 09:21 PM
Chris from Chicago


The other guy is the host of the show.

Mar. 18 2011 09:21 PM
Peggy Sullivan from Detroit

Whew. That James O'Keefe is brilliant. Who is that other guy, anyway? The snobby sounding one with nothing much to say???

Mar. 18 2011 09:16 PM
Chris from Chicago


I know this might be hard for you to believe, but believing the Tea Party has racist elements is not a radical or unusual opinion. In fact, in the unedited video Shiller was quoting Republicans on that sentiment. It is not exclusive to the left wing. Similarly, Shiller was not even an NPR journalist. Why is he not allowed to hold a relatively mainstream opinion in his private life away from his work?

And trust me, many people think there are racists in the Tea Party. It's just not politically correct to say so out loud.

Mar. 18 2011 09:10 PM
vivian from Virginia

Why do I get the impression there's an awful lot of covering up going on over at NPR?

Mar. 18 2011 09:07 PM
Amanda Fields from Palo Alto

Bob, aren't you engaging in some tremendous lying by omission here? You're completely ignoring the real issues raised by O'Keefe's videos. What Ron Schiller said about the Tea Party (and yes he did say those things) is pretty far down on the list of things NPR did wrong.

Mar. 18 2011 08:58 PM
Joe G.

When our major media sources begin releasing all tapes/recordings with their subjects, I'll take their concerns re: editing a bit more seriously.

Mar. 18 2011 08:57 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

Eli you can't be serious.

Mar. 18 2011 08:15 PM
Seth Parson from Dallas

Bob, you're not getting out of NPR trying to accept 5 million from the Muslim Brotherhood that easily. None of that was a result of "deceptive editing," and for you to try to suggest that what you did at the end there is anything comparable to O'Keefe's editing is egregiously dishonest.

I'm very disappointed in NPR. You too Bob.

Mar. 18 2011 08:14 PM
Eli from Washington, D.C.

Wow. If that was a fight it would have had to have been stopped.

I think O'Keefe was really out of his league with Bob (who was kind enough to pull a few punches...he could have been *much* harder on O'K).

O'K seems to be in love with the words "mitigate" and, more distressingly, "logic."

Is he familiar with the definition of the latter?


Mar. 18 2011 07:57 PM
Kevin McKague from Davison, MI

It is inevitable that somebody somewhere is plotting an O'Keefe style, deceptively edited sting video against O'Keefe himself. In it, it will appear that O'Keefe is a deceitful crumb. It won't take as much editing as the NPR video in order to provide its desired effect.

There will be one major differnce: when it is found two days after the video is released that it was unfairly edited, FOX won't ignore the de-bunking and continue to air the edited video as if it were honest journalism, like it has with the NPR sting.

Mar. 18 2011 06:28 PM

Thou does protest too much me thinks. Prepared for another hatchet job by Bob who likes only muckrakers of his own persuasion. Please see Bob's gushing over ambush "journalism."

Mar. 18 2011 05:13 PM

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