Emily Esfahni Smith
Okay, admittedly I’m not in the habit of applauding the actions—or integrity—of Glenn Beck or anything the guy’s even remotely connected with. Clearly to readers of this blog, I have a rather low opinion of the man. I think Glenn Beck is bad for America because he fills the heads of ignorant people who aren’t sophisticated enough to be able to evaluate an information source, and who know nothing whatsoever about history, with shit. He fills their heads with shit. If Glenn Beck were hit by lightning, I would start believing in a loving, interventionist God concerned with America’s future.... but I digress.
It’s just hard for me to say this, I guess, uh, what I’m trying to say, but there is something on Beck’s news website, The Blaze, that demands to be read if you want to understand exactly what is going on with the “undercover NPR Muslim sting” video the rightwing is all up in arms about. I’m not kidding, it’s essential reading and it’s smart stuff. How (or why) this news analysis was financially underwritten by Glenn Beck, I really can’t say, but what Scott Baker wrote there, examining if the videos were edited in a misleading fashion along with Blaze video producer Pam Key, and what Emily Esfahni Smith wrote there about whether or not the means justify the ideological ends, where LYING is involved, I can find little fault with.
However, because writing something nice about Glenn Beck is difficult for me, I think I’ll just take the easy way out and quote Ken Layne posting on Wonkette:
Whenever that James O’Keefe guy puts out another heavily edited video against some liberal bogeyman, both the White House and the Washington/New York media quickly fire everyone involved — because the only rational way to deal with claims made by partisan pranksters is to simply punish anyone targeted. That’s why Shirley Sherrod was immediately fired by the White House while the Lame Stream Media nodded approvingly and only Wonkette bothered to look at the allegedly damning video closely enough to see that Breitbart’s crew had carefully edited it to make Sherrod sound like a raving racist. Likewise, the firing of NPR executive Ron Schiller and his CEO boss was cheered by the liberal media and got solemn nods from Democrats in Washington. Only Glenn Beck’s reporters at his website, The Blaze, bothered to watch the unedited footage and note that the various bombshells in the video were taken out of context (the opinions of others made to look like the opinions of Schiller, for example) and that Schiller’s pro-Republican statements were (obviously) all cut out of the video released by O’Keefe.
Here’s the unedited section with Ron Schiller discussing the opinions of a senior Republican lawmaker and a major GOP donor. While Schiller seems to agree with the characterization of the Tea Party people at the end of this anecdote, it’s obvious he is quoting Republicans uneasy with the teabaggers here:
There’s a lot more of this on The Blaze: eight sections of raw video with written commentary by a video producer from the website. She finds numerous instances of editing to make Schiller sound like he’s replying to completely different statements (a bemused reaction to something about restaurant reservations is made to look like a response to implementing sharia law worldwide), and she also finds sections where the audio has clearly been switched from another part of the video, as well as the complete removal of many instances of Schiller and his colleague praising either Republicans or the Fox News audience.
There were pretty much only two news sources to pick this up from, Wonkette and The Blaze. What does it say about the rest of the media (no matter their supposed bias or supposed lack of one) who gave this story and that dweeby, sleazeball James O’Keefe a pass, AGAIN???
Hell, isn’t it obvious why Andrew Breitbart stayed away from this stinker? Yes it is, because James O’Keefe is a lying sack of shit and Breibart knows it. A sleazy non-entity who should be treated as one! Why wasn’t it Salon or The Nation or MSNBC who looked into this video, first? Shouldn’t the name James fucking O’Keefe have caused anyone to sit up an notice on the Left??? It took Glenn Beck’s crew to get the truth out? Yes, it did! I did wake up in Bizarro World again, didn’t I?
But the truth will out in the weirdest places sometimes. Good on Scott Baker, Blaze video producer Pam Key and Emily Esfahni Smith for having the courage and journalistic integrity to out one of their own, or perhaps they don’t count clown boy James O’Keefe as one of their own. You know, a real investigative journalist.
Anyone looking at the edited version of the Project Veritas video would be concerned about the conduct and views expressed by the NPR representatives. But should we also be concerned about the deceptive nature of some of the video’s representations? Some will say no — the end justifies any means, even if unethical. Others may be bothered by these tactics and view similar projects with a greater degree of skepticism.
In our posting yesterday on the ethics of undercover journalism, we found a range of views. One interesting view is held by Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard. Barnes believes it is always wrong for a journalist to lie: “It‘s dishonest for anyone in journalism to pretend to be someone they’re not.”
But Barnes also believes this applies only to journalists. “This rule doesn’t apply to folks outside the profession,” he told The Blaze. Barnes views the O’Keefe production as a “political hit job and a quite clever and successful one at that.”
Barnes may not realize that O’Keefe describes his work as “investigative journalism,” and thus by Barnes definition — unethical.
And that is only on the issue of going undercover. But even if you are of the opinion, as I am, that undercover reporting is acceptable and ethical in very defined situations, it is another thing to approve of editing tactics that seem designed to intentionally lie or mislead about the material being presented.
As you might expect, the comments on THIS ONE are fascinating and to be fair, all over the place. That’s not typical of what I’ve seen on the boards there at all.
One of the posters (“CaptainKook”) even writes
“O’Keefe is, ultimately, lying to YOU when he publishes these faked edited and dishonest scam videos. WHY whould you willingly choose to believe a guy who YOU KNOW IS LYING TO YOU???”
This is a very good, penetrating question not just for far right conservatives who cheer the likes of James O’Keefe and Lila Rose on even knowing that they are basically liars who they happen to agree with, but to the left who let them get away with it just long enough for their version of heavily edited reality to become the de facto truth.
I mean James O’Keefe lying, right? Who’d have thunk it?
That the answer was Glenn Beck’s crew at The Blaze is as surprising to me as it probably is to you, too. But there it undeniably is.
You can’t explain that!