That’s the latest defense of NPR’s Ron Schiller—who was subsequently fired and lost the job he had planned to take at the Aspen Institute. It hinges on the well-worn claim that James O’Keefe has “selectively-edited” the video he released. Never mind that the only reason we know about said “selective editing” is because O’Keefe released the entire, unedited video as well. The short version amounted to the highlight reel for those who didn’t wish to watch the full two-hour feature.
The controversy centers around the part of the video in which NPR’s Ron Schiller called Tea Party activists “racist, racist people.” Here is the full exchange; the part in bold was left out of the “highlight reel:”
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 think the current Republican party is not really the Republican Party. It’s been hijacked by this group that…
“MUSLIM”: The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?
SCHILLER: Exactly. And not just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic. Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun-toting — I mean, it’s pretty scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.
The left, specifically David Weigel, is now arguing that the “racist, racist people” line is Schiller quoting two anonymous, but “very highly placed” Republicans. Verum Serum has a post that examines the linguistics behind the statement and the editorial decisions O’Keefe made. In essence, he concludes that—at a minimum—after Schiller says, “I mean, it’s pretty scary” he is giving his own analysis. Based purely on the language, I agree with his basic conclusions. However, there is a more fundamental problem with Schiller’s claim.
The first “Tea Party” events occurred in 2009, after Obama’s election and inauguration; in other words, the “Tea Party” did not exist until after Obama’s election. In fact, much of the impetus for the Tea Party is a backlash against the explosion of spending under the Obama administration. As such, either Schiller is lying when tacitly agrees that the “radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people” is the group whose takeover prompted these anonymous Republicans to vote for Obama, 0r Schiller has invented the entire story about these “very highly placed” Republicans in order to project his views without claiming them. Either way, Schiller is lying to affirm the notion that the Tea Party is an extremist group defined by racism.