Yesterday, NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller resigned as did VP Ron Schiller over a video released by conservative activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas showing a collection of embarrassing statements made by the latter Schiller:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd9OYJMX9t4]
As can be seen in the video, two men acted as members of a fake organization claiming to be an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood looking to make a donation to NPR and met with Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley to discuss the topic. While conservative sites and libertarian ones paraded the video around, some liberal commentators showed surprising tone-deafness to its contents.
Overall, I have to agree with Heather Mac Donald that this is a dog bites man story in that NPR’s liberal bias is well-known and NPR is not responsible for the opinions of its individual employees. However, I do think that the O’Keefe video provides a more concrete view of the issue. What Ron Schiller’s comments (as well as Xeni Jardin’s reaction to the story) show is the extent to which ideologies affect a person’s view of reality and the blind spots incurred as a result and ultimately, that is the cause of NPR’s bias issues.
The issue is not that Ron Schiller has the views that he has, but rather that his views are likely not far from the norm for NPR employees, regardless of whether the journalists and editors there admit them aloud. Heather discusses how this plays into some of her pet issues of urban crime and poverty, but more generally, even if a reporter seeks to be fair and neutral as possible in reporting a story, often ideology helps determine what is an important focus and helps fram the issues involved in the reporters mind, which leads to a liberal worldview presented in neutral wrapping.
Ultimately, O’Keefe’s video is a political gimmick aimed at forwarding what is a generally laudable goal of stripping the public broadcasting companies of their federal funding. The stations will survive, as there is certainly a market for them to exist, but the federal government doesn’t need to be subsidizing the tastes of urban liberals.