Sting Operations Reveal Media Hypocrisy

The NPR sting has engulfed the media in a maelstrom of hypocrisy.

When did entrapment replace journalism? Whether it's from the Left (Ian Murphy's fake-out with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker) or the Right (James O'Keefe's fake Muslim donors), it's suspect. Real investigative reporting can uncover the sins in any organization.

Besides, I thought the Right hated "gotcha journalism."

But let's take the NPR scandal -- and the political reaction -- as evidence of gigantic lies on all sides.

For openers, it's appalling that any reputable news organization would consider dining with donors connected with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel. It also sanctions jihad.

NPR's CEO Vivien Schiller and fund-raising executive Ron Schiller weren't there to interview the (fake) Muslim organization for a news story; they were trolling for dollars. Diversity is fine; casually sanctioning anti-Semitism is not.



It's also true that O'Keefe heavily edited the videotape to mislead viewers and make Ron Schiller, who refused the donation, look as unctuous as possible. Schiller informed the faux donors of a "big firewall" between those who raise money and those who report the news. But Vivien? Did you forget you head a serious, respected news organization?

The second issue is Ron Schiller's purported Tea Party cracks.

The raw video shows Schiller largely recounting Tea Party views expressed to him by two top Republicans, though Schiller agrees with the sentiments "racist" and "scary."

Have you seen some of the Tea Party rallies? Have you heard their remarks about President Obama or immigration? Besides likening Obama to Hitler, the Tea Party frequently calls him a Muslim (he's Christian) and insists he was born in Kenya (actually Hawaii). Anyone who insists on spreading lies in the face of overwhelming truth is, well, scary.

Further, the Tea Party's violent disruption of town hall meetings to discuss health care was eye-opening. In May 2010, during a Tea Party protest in Washington, D.C., two African American congressmen were harassed: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was spat on by a protester, while Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called the "n" word.

Now, if NPR execs are sent packing over their comments, why is Glenn Beck, who likened Reform rabbis to "radicalized Islam" and has repeatedly demeaned the Holocaust, still on the air? Even Fox News chief Roger Ailes characterizing Beck's Jewish critics as nothing more than "left-wing rabbis" and labeled NPR execs Nazis for firing Fox commentator Juan Williams.

Here's an idea: Let's clean house across the political spectrum.

If Schiller is canned for her behavior, why not Ailes or Beck?

Williams added his hypocritical two cents about NPR: "They say that people like me are bigots because I tell you what I feel," he said. "These people are not only attacking the Tea Party ... they attack anybody who disagrees with their point of view." Apparently, Williams doesn't listen to his colleagues at Fox: Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. All take egregious potshots at anyone who challenges their opinions. Had he never seen Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World?"

It's time to get real. Otherwise, the news media isn't championing ethics or truth, but muscular Darwinism. One in which the Left disassembles and the Right attacks, where the jackboot trumps fair play.

Such behavior makes the media look like dangerous idiots -- or worse.

17 comments about "Sting Operations Reveal Media Hypocrisy".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, March 14, 2011 at 10:14 a.m.

    60 Minutes has been doing this kind of journalism for forty-plus years. Lots of Peabody Awards to show for it, despite heavy editing to make someone in the news story look bad.

    Fern didn't complain, because 60 Minutes exposed evil-doers in corporate America. Now the show is on the other foot, and she doesn't like it.

  2. Leon Halbert from Brighton, March 14, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

    You are overlooking one tiny difference between NPR and FOX. One is publicly funded and the other is not. Don't get me wrong, I do not like the Glenn Beck types and the trash that they spew out but they do not receive government dollars and are free to express their opinions.

  3. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, March 14, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.

    Strange, but I can't find any columns of Siegel's denouncing such tactics from CBS, ABC or any other left wing "news" media. Sorry, but I can't take such a pathetic attempt at fumigating NPR's stench seriously.

  4. Nelson j Perez from 63rd Street Films, March 14, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.

    Why don't you be the first to stop editorializing politics and stay tuned to what you are supposed to write about instead of your obvious hurt at NPR being ousted for what they really are.

  5. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, March 14, 2011 at 11:57 a.m.

    This is a valid and important topic. Because the way that media works allows them to be manipulated by shock-jocks.

    This guy O'Keefe's MO is to exaggerate and lie with his editing. But, his savvy use of these explosive headlines ensures that his lies never get thorough analysis.

    And, this is an MO that's being used by guys like the caller to the Wisconsin gov - so it's a bipartisan ability to lie.

    Key questions for the media: What firewall can you put in place so that shock jock video's don't overwhelm the truth? Sadly, our desperate need to put out immediate news makes it impossible to use a 7 day embargo to slow down the cycle so that truth emerges.

    As a mild note to other commenters: NPR's only receives a small portion of its budget from the government. It's not a "government sponsored" outlet. It's got some funding from the government. And, I wouldn't be surprised to find that anyone who could look deeply into Fox would discover it's got some government funding (at least in terms of tax breaks and lobbying representatives).

    And I'll defend this writer who pulled no punches about the outright stupidity of the NPR execs here. But stupidity is not criminal - just dumb. And stupidity is found everywhere - Fox News, every large corporation, private enterprises everywhere, and government.

    What O'Keefe excels at is making "stupidity" appear criminal. Sadly, the criminal act is on his part - character assassination, destroying organizations that deliver sadly needed social services, etc.

  6. Debra Howard from Information for Inspiration, March 14, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.

    Thanks for writing such a fair and reasonable column. Siegel exposed a larger issue within "sting" operations -- there is a difference between uncovering nasty truths for the greater good and trying to set someone up, as O'Keefe did. He edited the videotape to make the NPR execs look as bad as possible. But she also takes NPR to task for exercising poor judgment -- as well as Fox for condoning bad behavior on the part of its anchors that it abhors in others. To me, this column takes an enlightened approach; it doesn't have a political ax to grind. It's articulate and smart. If the news media spent more time reporting the facts -- and less time screaming about labels and denigrating anyone who disagrees with its commentators -- we'd all be better off.

  7. Carey Warren from Coterie Media, March 14, 2011 at 1 p.m.

    I've seen no "editing" that changes the content of these tapes. They are what they are, and we all know that bias exists in media, especially in favor of the left.

    How you suddenly veer the article off the intended track toward the defense of Obama, for example, shows your own bias as well.

    Further, I think that any publicly funded entity is fair game for the O'Keefe treatment. Tax payer dollars should be spent as a precious resource, instead of being thrown around as they are now, because those taxes represent the life's work of the American people. O'Keefe understands this, and reveals that NPR's management and their perverted views don't deserve the benefit of it.

    The TEA Party understands this also, and also knows this is how most Americans feel about taxation. Your vilifying of that movement, as well as the sudden defense of Obama's administration, shows your own lack of balance, as well as your misunderstanding of that group's intent. One can only hope you're not receiving any government grants for this work.

    In light of all this, perhaps you should stick to covering just media matters, instead of politics.

  8. Mike August from August,Lang & Husak, March 14, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.

    Just to be accurate Vivian Schiller was not at the lunch trolling for money. She wasn't there at all. The lunch was attended by Ron Schiller and another woman and for what it's worth neither one of them have anything to do with editorial policy at NPR.

  9. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, March 14, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.

    As more information comes out about the editing of the hidden-camera footage it appears clear that the NPR people did NOT say anything particularly bad. In fact, they were complimentary to Republicans, Tea Partiers and made clear 6 times that favorable coverage could not be bought at NPR.

    Contrary to a previous comment, I don't believe the media is left leaning. In fact, when taken as a whole considering their coverage of the Iraq war and big business the big media is quite right-leaning.

    O'Keefe in particular has no credibility as a journalist. He is a right-wing funded attack machine. Nothing more. NPR's coverage of their own problems are fair and balanced and second to none.

    If O'Keefe wants to get at taxpayer waste, perhaps he should consider a "sting" operation at a defense contractor, taxpayer subsidies to oil companies or subsidies to agriculture conglomerates. Those are where the multi billion dollars are, not at NPR or ACORN. You may remember ACORN was exonerated after its demise. Oh, and O’Keefe was found guilty of criminal conduct on another “sting.”

  10. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, March 14, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.

    BTW, here's an analysis of the NPR video by the Glenn Beck connected Blaze website.

    Love or hate NPR, we gotta get a handle on the knee jerk response to these tactics...

  11. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, March 15, 2011 at 6:35 a.m.

    Ron Schiller refused the donation? I don't think so.

    Plus, if you are going to play politics, please be fair by getting into real criticism of the "Tea Party" instead of the radical left wing nonsense about it having anything to do with racism of any kind.

    The "Tea Party" was started by "small government" supporters of Ron Paul in late 2007. After the right and left wing media outlets ignored Paul in 2008, the "Tea Party" name was taken over, using big money, by the very people who claimed to be "conservative" and whom the original Tea Party wanted to fight: corporate interests claiming their "individual rights", feminists, neocons and socialcons.

    Sarah Palin, for instance, claimed the "Tea Party" mantle in the name of the latter crowd. The male vote will not allow her to become President in 2012 because of her support for feminism, neo-conservatism and social conservatism.

    But even then, at least the people she got elected are serious, even while under death threats such as in Wisconsin, about cutting down government size (rather than ignore the electorate like Republicans have done in the past).

    The only way you can call that racism is if you assume that most government workers are not white.

  12. Steve Braunstein from Juggernaut Joint Ventures, March 15, 2011 at 11:15 a.m.

    Liberals don't like getting caught, losing elections, or capitilism. It's a very simple equation.

    The main stream media called for civility after the terrible shooting of a congresswoman but then does not show one iota of coverage of all of the hate filled rhetoric, death threats to republican congressmen, and union thug attacks and threats across the nation.

    To claim that the media is not biased and liberal is disengenious at best but more likely just complete Betty Ford clinic type of denial. When polled 86% of journalists admit to being democrat/liberal.

    The irony would be a 10 on the funny bone scale if not so sad on harmful to the country.

  13. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, March 15, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.

    The "86% liberal journalist" figure comes from a study done in 1981 and is dubious at best. Even if a group of people individually feel a particular way doesn't mean they slant their coverage towards their sentiments. Many journalists work diligently to present balanced coverage. Conversely, Fox does a daily memo from the corporate top dictating what type of spin to add to current events. No reputable news organization does that.

    What kind of tea bagger are you? Do you want totally unrestrained business free to pollute at will, free to put lead or other poisons in toys or food, unregulated investment firms free to lie to their clients? Regulation is what enables capitalism to work. Few liberals I know “hate” capitalism.

    Government shouldn’t intrude on individual liberty, right? Should all drug use be legal? Should people be free to marry whomever they want? Should hiring bias be allowed? Should the government regulate any behavior of the individual? Regulate any behavior of the corporation? Torture policy? Many of these issues don’t break clearly between liberal/conservative delineations.

    Mr. Foster, you say males are preventing Ms. Palin from being elected president. Really?! I thought it was because she couldn’t name a single newspaper that she read. Being ill-informed on the issues of the world is a symptom of her buddy in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell and Michelle Bachmann in MN. The racism label was placed on the so-called tea party because of the frequent pictures of monkeys and Africa in posters about Obama.

    Jon Stewart is more of a fair and balanced journalist than anyone at Fox News and he strives to present hypocrisy by conservatives and liberals in office and in the press.

    BTW, has 60 Minutes done a single undercover video in less than 10 years?

  14. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, March 16, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.


    Even Fox News "journalists" tend to be collectivists at least in terms of support for social conservatism and populism which are collectivist notions. Fox News is neoconservative, which is more of a hated opponent ideology of real Ron Paul-style Tea Partiers than modern Democrat Party liberalism is.

    The reason why people who follow the journalist trade self-select themselves as generally anti-capitalist, unless paid off by corporations to take a certain slant, is because these individuals mostly would have taken a higher paid capitalist job otherwise.

    I quit a job as a journalist out of college because I was surrounded by others who had self-selected themselves out of the business world and they seemed to have a chip on their shoulder about how they were making less money than their business peers(and they were massively pro-union - the editor basically wanted me to quit because I wouldn't join the union and the owner liked me for that).

    You are correct that the concept of small government and individual rights can get muddled when you get to individual issues and no Tea Party supporter should behave as if they are blissfully unaware of the many issues where right vs left isn't obvious.

    An example is smoking. Your right to smoke ends at my right to breathe fresh air. Any "Tea Partier" who blindly assumes that the official "Tea Party" position on the issue is that anti-smoking laws are "Nanny State laws" is bastardizing the notion of individual rights. It's a terrible mistake for any Tea Partier to disregard the "Law of the Commons".

    For instance, Rand Paul blew me away last summer when he implied that oil drilling and mining companies had a right to operate without government safety monitoring for employees or the environment.

    Topically, it's insane how some really low IQ individuals on the net are now claiming to be "conservatives" while supporting the nuclear power industry's contentions that the current Japanese nuclear crisis is being "overblown".

    It would destroy the GOP to now take a position that nuclear power plants have every right to keep their old GE Mark I reactors in operation after 5 of their sisters just melted because of ridiculously bad cooling system design (that terrorists could easily exploit).

    Rand was possibly correct, however, in noting that employers and restaurant owners did have a right to discriminate against prospective employees and customers if they wanted to be stupid and mean. His position on the CRA may seem extreme but Goldwater was correct that one has to protect some extreme behavior in order to prevent the government from really getting intrusive.

    For instance, one way in which the Nanny State can interfere too much in employment practices is that a potential boss really does have a natural law right to want a secretary who is also his girlfriend or who socializes with him and clients, as long as she understands up front that its not just a 9 to 5 job.

    The GOP would be making a terrible mistake if it tries to stop laws that directly prohibit poisons in products as long as there aren't irrelevant anti-capitalist clauses in the laws, such as a lead removal clause in a law last year that just hurt construction businesses without providing any extra safety to anyone.

    You are correct that Sarah Palin seems to be hurting herself more because of her seemingly limited intellect, measured by her failure to take on the left face to face, than because of her well-hidden but sometimes apparent "women are first" and pro-NOW leanings that are shockingly mixed in with social conservative populism that would have had no place in the original Tea Party created in 2007 by Ron Paul supporters.

    But her openly stated view of the world is nowhere near as outrageous as Christine O'Donnell's openly stated social conservative view. Christine self-destructed like the Hindenburg last year. I was gasping for oxygen when I saw her try to say the Constitution was not to be interpreted as being in favor of the separation of church and state (Jefferson said it should be so interpreted and, regardless, she frightened every intelligent person by implying she didn't feel so constrained by the Constitution as far as government making laws enforcing religious morality).

    The O'Donnell campaign was an embarrassment to the Tea Party and Palin may have sealed her fate for the 2012 GOP Pres Nom by having been dumb enough to pick O'Donnell as a favored candidate in Delaware (and that wacky Paladino in New York who said porn was for liberals when he was the GOP's biggest consumer of porn).

    On Jon Stewart? He easily sets himself up to lose hypothetical debates, if he dared to get into one, but he otherwise shoots to entertain an average IQ of 100. Example: He just did a show where he admitted that Wisconsin teachers make $90k per year and get summers off.

    His humor on that show was that he pretended that the Wall Street fat cats that destroyed the economy were protected by the real Tea Party constituents (voters) and paid a lot more than $90k per year. He was trying to say that real Tea Party voters were hypocrites.

    He failed to see that most of his audience, outside of the canned laughter, were still furious that Congress voted for TARP and rewarded guilty Wall Street fat cats for wrecking the economy. So most of his audience, both liberal and Tea Party, would be against taxpayers funding high salaries for anyone.

    It wasn't really an argument for Jon Stewart to note that some fake Tea Party pundits were paid off by Wall Street types and appeared on Fox News, a TV station that real Tea Partiers dislike, and said "it would be unfair Nanny State regulation to limit the pay of Wall Street executives benefiting from TARP funds".

    Kudos to Jon Stewart for at least exposing the hypocrisy of those fake Tea Party pundits, but he was only helping his young male audience understand that taxpayer money shouldn't give anyone overly high salaries.

  15. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, March 17, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.

    Mr. Foster,
    Thanks for a very thoughtful reply! A very good read. I might quibble a bit on your perception on Stewart but not too much. TY

  16. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, March 17, 2011 at 3:13 p.m.

    Impressed by the level of debate on this thread, and wish more conservatives used rational debate to make their points, as Mr. Foster does here. Then again, he sounds like the kind of conservative who USED to run the GOP, before it fell victim to the puppetmaster neocons.

  17. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, March 17, 2011 at 6:17 p.m.

    Too bad this discussion became political diatribe instead of response to the fundamentals of the article.

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