You are hereTalking Points Memo: Latest James O'Keefe NPR Tape Immediately Proves A Dud

Talking Points Memo: Latest James O'Keefe NPR Tape Immediately Proves A Dud

By FZ - Posted on 19 March 2011

March 17, 2011- Branded as a revelatory scoop uncovering previously unknown donations from George Soros to NPR, James O'Keefe's latest sting on NPR was debunked as a non-story within hours of its release.

The news that O'Keefe purports to "break" -- that Soros had previously donated to the public broadcaster via grants from Soros' Open Society Institute -- had, in fact, long been publicly known through tax records and even press releases.

"We believe that journalism is a pillar of an open and democratic society and a critical tool for transparency and accountability," a spokeswoman for OSI, Laura Silber, told TPM after sending over a list of previous grants to NPR and affiliates. "A free and independent press serves as a watchdog of both government and the private sector. NPR, which is a respected national news organization, provides an excellent vehicle for regional and national analyses of the most critical issues facing our country."

The new audio recording features NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley talking with one of O'Keefe's actors, a member of a phony Muslim group claiming to want to donate $5 million to NPR. In their conversation, Liley discusses donations from George Soros, noting that after conservative attacks on him intensified he asked that his name not be mentioned on the air as a sponsor.

"George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress," Liley says.

Lilely recounted past donations from Soros, saying "I think the first gift was within the first year he set up the Foundation, which was 10 or 15 years ago" and noting that there was much less media attention to his donations then.

It's here that O'Keefe starts going off the rails. Touting his "scoop" in all caps on Twitter, O'Keefe wrote "BREAKING: NPR DIRECTOR ADMITS TO HAVING RECEIVED SOROS MONEY FOR YEARS..." with a link to the video, which also features O'Keefe pushing a press officer at Soros' Open Society Institute to hand over information on their grants before she finally hangs up. The Daily Caller ran with the news as well, throwing up the headline: "New O'Keefe tape shows George Soros has donated to NPR before last year."


Mark Crispin Miller
Progressive Democrats of America