James O'Keefe's NPR Attack is Straight Out of Orwell's 1984

Ron Schiller doesn't speak for NPR, and he doesn't program the network.

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James O’Keefe is at it again: secretly taping a luncheon, this time between two top NPR executives, one of which called the Tea Party movement racist and xenophobic, and said NPR would be better off without federal funding. Although the man making these remarks, Ron Schiller, resigned prior to the video being shot and was expecting to leave NPR in May, his resignation went into effect yesterday.

Let’s clear a few things up, ok?

Taping anyone without their consent is illegal. If you are obtaining information into the affairs of another person without their consent, you are opening yourself to a lawsuit. And although I am sick of how litigious we as a nation have become, the parties at that private lunch should sue O’Keefe. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Tea Party.]

It actually amuses me that he is angry when someone shows they might lean left, when Mr. O’Keefe’s demonizing of Acorn and now NPR shows how far he will go to get the right their way. Is it a coincidence that this video appears just when Republicans have passed a budget bill that would end funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?

What’s next? Tape a few vets who might speak negatively about their commander in chief over a beer and cut their benefits? Oh, I have an idea, how about we tape Sens. Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn and Rep. Eric Cantor (who are using O’Keefe’s tape to provide proof of why NPR needs to be defunded) to see what they’d say behind closed doors? I’m sure their constituents would be shocked and amazed. [See who donates the most money to your member of Congress.]

Although I do not condone what Schiller said about the Tea Party movement, let’s face it, every movement has its racists and its xenophobes. And would NPR be better off without federal funding? No. But for those radio listeners who think you don’t pay for what you’re listening to, think again.[See a roundup of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

On the right, most talk hosts make millions. And you’re paying their salaries. Every time you purchase the product advertised, and lately, every time you sign up for their newsletter or even click on their website. As a liberal Democrat (who they like to call progressive nowadays), I can attest that in order to equal the playing field since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, the NPRs of the world must exist. Rush might be right, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone from the left as a guest or caller to his show. NPR provides both, as does my show (The Leslie Marshall Show), by the way. You might not know that because most liberal progressive radio programs such as mine aren’t carried by the more than 400 conservative talk stations in the United States; we have to fight for under 100 or less. That’s not fair, and I don’t need a doctrine to tell me that. [Read the U.S. News debate: Is a new 'fairness doctrine' needed?]

The NPRs of the world are like the BBCs; they present the facts. The problem is the facts have been skewed so far to the right for the past decade that truth has become left-leaning fiction to many of you, and that is what our Republican congressional members want you to believe.

So what if Mr. Schiller said what he said? He doesn’t speak for NPR, and he doesn’t program the network; he was in charge of fundraising for them.

What bothers me about this isn’t the target, or even the attack on NPR and PBS, which conservatives claim is left leaning; there were similar efforts to defund them in 2005 and in the '90s that weren't successful. What bothers me is Mr. O’Keefe and his fraternity-like tactics. Unless we all want to live in Orwell’s 1984, we need to have some reasonable privacy. A business meeting, a lunch, it’s a meal for cryin’ out loud! I’m half Jewish and half Sicilian, breaking bread used to mean something. Nowadays you have to watch what you say before you break it, because big brother O’Keefe isn’t just watching, he’s taping.

  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Tea Party.
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