The Teaparty-ification of NPR (James O'Keefe, cheap stunts, distraction)

The president and CEO of NPR - Vivian Schiller - was fired by their board today (link). That follows James OKeefe of ACORN fame catching one of her former underlings on hidden camera saying embarrassing things. A few notes:

1. The attempt to defund NPR is to a great extent just "boob bait for Bubba" since they only receive a relatively tiny amount of money from the federal government. However, to a certain extent it's also a matter of principle: why should millions of Americans underwrite an enterprise that simply smears them, when public broadcasting that had a conservative viewpoint would never get approved? Whether more than a handful of those who support defunding NPR think in those terms is doubtful.

2. Conservatives - particularly those in the tea parties orbit - have very little interest in good reporting. Like liberals, they just want things to tilt their way. Those pushing to defund NPR aren't, for instance, encouraging them to do investigative pieces on both George Soros and the Koch family.

3. Those pushing to defund NPR are, with very rare exceptions (a few here: and that's about it), incapable of intellectually engaging NPR and showing how their opinions - expressed or implied - are wrong or have undisclosed side-effects. Simply showing how NPR is lying is beyond the vast majority of those pushing to defund NPR. Showing how NPR is wrong would encourage them to offer better coverage, but that's not the goal.

4. This all came about due to yet another cheap stunt by O'Keefe (and published at the Daily Caller). What O'Keefe, the Young Republican types, and supposedly grown-up Republican leaders all have in common is that none of them are capable of engaging someone face-to-face and trying to present a valid counter-argument. The question authority plan is beyond them, thus the cheap stunts.

5. The teaparty definition of conservatism is narrow and generally restricted to spending (and searching out COMMIES). If NPR were forced to offer a "conservative voice", it would generally be a setup such as that employed by CNN. Erick Erickson and Dana Loesch are presented as the only contrary voices, with others who disagree shut out: Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan, Alex Jones, and many more.

6. Considering the above, it's not good for the U.S. to have NPR "teapary-ified". The correct solution would be to encourage NPR to do better coverage from all across the spectrum, not just that which is "Beltway-friendly". Teaparty and conservative leaders are acting just like liberals: trying to tilt coverage their way instead of encouraging good reporting. Call them on it.

3/10/11 UPDATE: O'Keefe might have unwittingly done a public service, at least in one specific area. He's released Act 2 of his NPR videos, and this one has another NPR underling telling the fake potential donor that they could avoid audits by donating their $5 million anonymously. And, the underling had confirmed that with an unspecified senior person at NPR. Recall that the group that wanted to give the $5 million stated on their fake website that they were linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and also that NPR had previously claimed they weren't interested in their donation.

3/11/11 UPDATE: Oddly enough, Glenn Beck's site offers a "decide for your yourself" take on the O'Keefe video (link), indicating that some parts of the edited videos might have been taken out of context. It's rare to see a partisan site even show an interest in getting the facts right, so that post is a bit unexpected.