Ed Driscoll

The Tea Party Versus NPR

Paul Kengor on NPR’s meltdown this week:

“The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian,” said NPR’s Ron Schiller to two undercover reporters. “I wouldn’t even call it Christian; it’s this weird evangelical kind of [movement].”

Not knowing he was being videoed, Schiller continued: “The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party, it’s been hijacked by this group; that is, not just Islamo-phobic but really xenophobic. I mean, basically, they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-American, gun toting—I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.” (Click here for transcript and here for video.)

Schiller is being heavily criticized for these comments, as is NPR and elite liberal thinking in general. Schiller, NPR Foundation president and vice president for development (until these comments), is the Left’s latest exhibit in smearing the Tea Party movement as bigots, racists, fascists, Hitler-ites, followers of Attila the Hun, Torquemada, Genghis Khan, or whatever other handy demon.

Wait, I thought Genghis Khan was now considered one of the good guys, considering how environmentally friendly his pillages were.

But seriously, as Andrew Breitbart writes at Big Journalism (and cross-posted at the Huffington Post, Bill Keller’s favorite Website), “NPR Is Collateral Damage in Battle to Brand Tea Party:”

James O’Keefe’s NPR tapes show what conservatives already knew: that avowed radical religious extremist racists like the Muslim Brotherhood get better treatment from journalists than politically engaged Americans who believe in limited government. Jihadist high-rollers or the window-breaking drum circle thugs in Madison are handled with more respect in the press than the guilty-until-proven-innocent Tea Party or people at town hall meetings.

But here’s the question that no one on the left–except Jon Stewart–is asking about the NPR sting: why did NPR roll over so quickly? Why did they fire Ron Schiller that same day, and why did NPR’s board fire Vivian Schiller the next? Ron Schiller could have fought back. He could have emphasized that he was speaking in his personal capacity, and that he had no input into NPR’s editorial process. But he didn’t fight. Why not?

NPR’s original excuse was that Ron Schiller was already planning to leave. But then he was made to resign immediately–and he lost the job he was moving to, at the Aspen Institute. He had every reason to fight back, even though Ron Schiller was not the target of James O’Keefe’s video–NPR was. But NPR didn’t back him. It didn’t back Vivian Schiller. And it didn’t even back itself. NPR ombusdman Alicia Shepard admitted, flat-out, to Piers Morgan on CNN: “[T]hat Ron Schiller video is a big black eye for NPR.”

Maybe NPR knows there’s more to come–that O’Keefe has more evidence of high-level collusion with the radical left. (And indeed, he’s just posted new audio of a phone call in which NPR fundraiser Betsy Liley suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood associates make their donation anonymously to shield themselves from unwanted government attention.) Or maybe NPR is trying to protect something much bigger than itself–the pseudo-moral high ground from which the mainstream media broadcasts its false propaganda about Tea Party racism and shills for the Democratic Party.

James O’Keefe’s work shows that exposing media bias is as easy as buying a camera and letting it roll. But you can’t–and won’t–make the mainstream media drop that bias. They will do almost anything to preserve the dogma of political correctness and the aura of self-righteousness that surrounds the left. That’s why NPR threw its fundraiser, its chief executive, and itself under the bus. They sacrificed for the greater political cause–so the mainstream media can keep spinning “Tea Party N-Word” and other myths.

How much of the goal was to feed the myths that their audience wanted to hear? Late last month, NPR boardmember Sue Schardt was quoted as saying:

We have built an extraordinary franchise. It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because we used a very specific methodology to cultivate and build an audience. For years, in boardrooms, at conferences, with funders, we have talked about our highly educated, influential audience. We pursued David Giovannoni’s methodologies. We all participated. It was his research, his undaunted, clear strategy that we pursued to build the successful news journalism franchise we have today.

What happened as a result is that we unwittingly* cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite. “Super-serve the core” — that was the mantra, for many, many years. This focus has, in large part, brought us to our success today. It was never anyone’s intention to exclude anyone.

In a related item, David Brooks claims that when it comes to the New York Times, “It’s mostly the readers I think that are more liberal than the journalists.” Yes, this is the same sort of triangulation game that the MSM always plays in an effort to say that they  hug the center — but let’s assume that Brooks is right (I know, I know, but it’s happened in the past; he’s due, I guess) and let’s assume that the worldview of the New York Times’ audience parallels NPR’s listeners. If this is the sort of stuff that the Times’ publisher and his braintrust thinks, and their readers are to the left of that…

No wonder their audiences craved Weekly World News-style coverage about the American right.

Fortunately, with the Schillers gone, NPR has learned its lessons, and appointed an interim CEO who better represents the cross-section of the American public they’ve alienated for so long.

Or not. “In the words of Pete Townsend, ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.'”

* Unwittingly? insert raised Spock-eyebrow here.