You are hereThe Daily Beast: Allies Accuse James O'Keefe of 'Hit Job' in Undercover NPR Sting
The Daily Beast: Allies Accuse James O'Keefe of 'Hit Job' in Undercover NPR Sting
The two men who pulled off James O’Keefe’s NPR sting are now criticizing the conservative activist for what one calls a ‘hit job.’ They tell Howard Kurtz exclusively why they feel exploited.
-By Howard Kurtz
November 15, 2011- The fake Muslim donor had played his role perfectly. The question was what to do next.
As the world would soon learn, Simon Templar had secretly recorded National Public Radio executives saying disparaging things about conservatives by passing himself off as Ibrahim Kasaam of the Muslim Education Action Center. He had even gotten a phone call with Vivian Schiller, NPR’s chief executive.
James O’Keefe, the man behind the undercover project, wanted to make the hidden-camera video public immediately last February as Congress debated whether to kill NPR’s funding. Templar insisted on waiting, and a confrontation ensued.
In a series of interviews with The Daily Beast, Templar says he had designed the effort to be “a very thoroughly researched and impeccably executed project that was by no means limited to NPR. James wanted it to be a hit job.”
What’s more, says Templar, O’Keefe “didn’t seem to care about the reasons why we were doing this. All he cared about was that he had people saying embarrassing stuff on video. I came to learn how desperate he was in terms of money and needing to rehabilitate his reputation.”
Shaughn Adeleye, who worked with Templar in posing as another member of the phony Muslim group, also disagreed with O’Keefe’s tactics. “We were both sold a false bill of goods,” says Adeleye, who devised the NPR scheme and persuaded O’Keefe to adopt it.
He and Templar “were under the impression we were going to go all the way with this. We did not want to halt it at such a critical moment when we had established a footing with our characters …
“I felt deceived and misled because James did not live up to what we all agreed upon would be a multifaceted project,” says Adeleye, who was born in Nigeria. “After a while I could not deny the truth anymore.”
Reached by telephone on Monday, O’Keefe said he would have no comment.
The clash highlights the debate swirling around O’Keefe’s surreptitious taping: Is it a new and audacious form of citizen activism, or ideological warfare dressed up as journalism? And why are his methods leaving some of his former allies disillusioned?
Whatever the misgivings of the participants, they had remarkable success by offering to donate up to $5 million to NPR if it could be done anonymously. In a phone call, Templar told Schiller that some of his organization’s members were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization founded in Egypt that has a history of violence. He told her the Muslim Brotherhood had been unfairly demonized as a terrorist group by the likes of Glenn Beck and that he appreciated the stand that NPR took in firing analyst Juan Williams for comments made on Fox News about fearing airplane passengers in Muslim garb. Schiller responded only briefly, saying “I know” or that she understood what Templar was saying, without endorsing his views. She praised his generosity and said NPR would be honored to accept a check if the legal issues could be worked out.
“I’m telling Vivian Schiller about our Muslim Brotherhood connections and she didn’t have any problem with it,” Templar says. One of his motivations for the project was that “I really wanted to bring attention to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most racist organizations on the planet.”