Wednesday, March 09, 2011

If A Pirate Wants To Donate $5 Million To Your "Liberal" Arts School, What Should You Do?

"HARRGH!  We're looking for University Relations! HARRGH!"
You might want to wonder if that pirate has a camera hidden in his blunderbuss before you say a word.  Whatever you do, don't chat him up and think maybe once he really gets to know you he'll build a Women's Center instead of a Center for Swashbuckling Studies, because he could be a Republican in disguise.  Those little jokes about peglegs are going to be awfully embarassing once the Disabilities Studies folks see them in the New York Times.

I never thought I would have to give this career advice, but I would feel remiss if I did not do so at this moment in history.  In the wake of conservative activist James O'Keefe's most recent effort to help defeat the thugs Republicans are saving our country from -- women, the poor, and intellectuals -- I just want to know: why did Schiller, the president of fund raising at NPR, not even have an inkling that two unknown "Muslims" who supposedly wanted to make a major gift were not a little shifty?  Had he never listened to his own radio station?  Did he not take in O'Keefe's little scam that brought ACORN to its knees?  Or the little rumble he tried to cause over at Planned Parenthood by impersonating a donor who would give money only on the condition that underage girls and as many black women as possible would be provided with abortions?

Here's the deal, for you other folks who have been living under a rock for the past year.  O'Keefe sets up embarrassing scenarios that feature liberal groups. He then records them secretly to demonstrate what conservative activists "already know" -- that liberals are lying, law-breaking hypocrites.  Of course, the videos and audio recordings often have to be edited to actually produce the "evidence," but no matter. Then mainstream conservative Republicans leap on the bandwagon and demand hearings to express their outrage that a single government dollar goes to these organizations (as opposed to the many federal dollars that go to homophobic religious organizations and schools, for example.)  O'Keefe also has connections to the Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell's organization that trains conservative youth (who, in turn, developed the affirmative action bake sale strategy recently used at Zenith by other students affiliated with LI.)  O'Keefe was also arrested for trying to bug U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's telephone.

The latest O'Keefe special involves unveiling NPR as a moral cesspool and a wealthy organization that is fleecing the taxpayer.  It is timed to coincide with the annual pledge drive, as well as the debate in Congress provoked by House Republicans zeroing out what budget remains to support public broadcasting.  O'Keefe hired two people who claimed to be representatives of a Muslim organization.  They arranged to meet with Schiller  in a Georgetown restaurant claiming they are interested in giving $5 million to public radio. "The heavily edited video," according to the AP account in Salon,

shows Schiller and another NPR executive, Betsy Liley, meeting at a pricey restaurant in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood with two men claiming to be part of a Muslim organization. The men offer NPR a $5 million donation. NPR said Tuesday it was "repeatedly pressured" to accept a $5 million check, which the organization "repeatedly refused."

"The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group that is ... not just Islamophobic but, really, xenophobic," Schiller said in the video, referring to the tea party movement. "They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting -- it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people."

Part of what I find puzzling about this is, while it wasn't a smart thing to say, it is at least an arguable point of view with some basis on the truth.  Schiller didn't even say it on air.  Rush Limbaugh says something whacko and false about every ninety seconds right on his own radio show and nobody really seems to give a good G-d damn.  Schiller isn't even a journalist:  he's a fund-raiser.

So what was the big deal?


Comrade PhysioProf said...

The big deal is that deranged angry ignorant white right-wing extremist manly assholes are Real Americans, and America Hating milquetoast elitist pansies need to go pound fucken sand with the rest of the niggers, faggots, spics, and towelheads. USA! USA! USA!

Anonymous said...

According to the NPR ombudsman, they fired this guy for being unprofessional by expressing his private (and arguably biased) opinions to a couple of total strangers. It's sort of like if a pirate wanted to donate $5 million to Zenith and the Zenith fundraiser opined that the Somalian pirates were really misunderstood freedom-fighters, in order to suck up to the potential donor.

And, contrary to your assertion, this guy did say it on the air -- it's just that he didn't know it was going to be on the air! And of course it feeds into the perception that the NPR folks are really a bunch of elitists who secretly have contempt for the ordinary Americans who are asked to fund them with their taxes.


Ever Hopeful said...

As a former major gift fundraiser (stress on former) I was pretty shocked by the tape. I can't tell you how many times I sat with monied folks and listened to statements that made my toes curl or the times when I bit my tongue and tampered down my own beliefs. Too many times...hence "former".

That said, this guy must have been going rogue for awhile which is why they zeroed in on him. Of course the fundraisers who work for NPR are liberals. You can't sell a product you don't believe in. Is this supposed to surprise anyone?

What he said was a legitimate and arguable opinion...but, as a fundraiser, "You can't do that." And you also can't turn the tables and try to catch a conservative fundraiser doing the same thing for another national 501c3. In my 20 years in the business, I never met one! Surprise.

missoularedhead said...

You said exactly what I've been thinking. First of all, he's a fundraiser, and second, he said it to a couple of individuals. And he's not actually wrong on a lot of counts. When did liberals start backing down every single time the Tea Party started bullying?

Anonymous said...


Wait, there was a time when liberals DIDN'T back down every time the teabaggers started bullying?

Anonymous said...


No, he didn't "say it on the air." To say something on the air means to say something that is literally being broadcast live as you say it. To say something "on the record" or "for broadcast" means to say something that you know is being recorded and accept may be quoted or played on the air at a later time.

This man did neither of those things. He said something--again possible misguided, but hardly illegal, immoral, sympathetic to terrorists, or any of the other idiotic labels that have been slapped on him--in what he believed to be a private conversation over a meal with two potential donors. He had no idea that he was being taped and no expectation that his words would be recorded and broadcast to the nation.

He was certainly in public and, perhaps, should have chosen his words more carefully, but it is ridiculous to argue that he should have known he was being taped or that he would be broadcast.

Anonymous said...

unless we should all assume, all the time, that we're being taped for broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:02, if you're a politician or a public figure or representing an organization that gets significant tax money, that might not be a bad idea. My question is, why do liberals keep falling for this? It's not like O'Keefe and his antics are a secret -- he's been arrested and is now notorious.

I guess some folks never learn.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

My question is, why do liberals keep falling for this?

Because liberals are fundamentally optimistic about human nature, genuinely like and respect other people, and thus tend to adopt a default trust and openness to people who present themselves in a seemingly earnest fashion. This is in contrast to the vicious hateful paranoia and disgust for humanity of your typical pig-ignorant greedy selfish right-wing asshole. Nasty amoral right-wing sociopaths like O'Keefe understand this and exploit it.

AYY said...

O'Keefe has been criticized for his tactics by conservative bloggers James Taranto and Debbie Schlussel. He might have been criticized by others on the right as well.

So maybe you can legitimately criticize some of O'Keefe's conduct. But the left hasn't been entirely innocent on this score either. Look at the way the left tried to put dirt on the Swiftboaters, and how they tried to cover for Dan Rather's hoax, how they frequently put out false statements about Sarah Palin, and don't even get me started about Al Gore and John Kerry. Those problems didn't just come from some guy on the fringe.

Let's not pretend the the charge of NPR bias was based only on this tape. There are plenty of reasons to believe they are biased.
The real questions are whether NPR is biased and whether it should receive taxpayer funding.

Also TR said
Keefe's most recent effort to help "defeat the thugs Republicans are saving our country from -- women, the poor, and intellectuals --"

Thugs? That's your description, not ours.

Women? We love women. They have prominent positions in our party, Ever hear of Sarah Palin,Michelle Bachmann, Nikki Haley?

The poor? Well, I suppose the Republicans would like everyone to get rich. And besides, the poor would like lower taxes and more freedom too. The Dem leadership just wants everyone to stay dependent on government. There are plenty of Dem politicians who are doing very well for themselves steering government contracts.

The intellectuals? Well that's understandable. They're not always as smart as they think they are.

grumpyABDadjunct said...

AYY - the Republican leadership want the poor to be rich about as much as the Pope wants the church to be transparent. Utter hogwash.

Anonymous said...

CPP, maybe you're right -- or maybe liberals are just gullible!

Anonymous said...

"that liberals are lying, law-breaking hypocrites."

I don't know about law-breaking, but lying hypocrites, definitely in my experience. Much more so than working class people. (Most liberals are upper class, and, like Physioprof, look down on the lower classes)

""They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting -- it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people.""

"seriously" racist? As in wanting to stop the flow of unskilled immigrants that is way larger than anywhere else and proven to hurt working people? As in biased interpretations of vague comments about how America used to be (when working people had jobs, and at least a hope of upward mobility).

Wow it's great that he's saying these things to apparently influential Muslim men who they don't even know, as representatives of our public broadcasting system.

"And of course it feeds into the perception that the NPR folks are really a bunch of elitists who secretly have contempt for the ordinary Americans who are asked to fund them with their taxes."

Secret? If you read the Drugmonkey blog (or Physioprof's comments here and elsewhere) you get an idea of how contemptuous elitist liberals can get.

"He had no idea that he was being taped and no expectation that his words would be recorded and broadcast to the nation."

But he had no assurance that they wouldn't - he obviously had no idea who he was talking to.

"Because liberals are fundamentally optimistic about human nature, genuinely like and respect other people...[like] your typical pig-ignorant greedy selfish right-wing asshole."

Enough said.

Tenured Radical said...

Anonymous 4:24 --

Liberals >< working class people?


I know I shouldn't bite on this but seriously -- recording someone without their permission is a crime in many states, and it considered a violation of the constitutional right to privacy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is obviously a big divide, (not that many or most American working people don't have liberal values - I think they do) but the liberal progressive establishment, from academia to media outlets like Pacifica Radio are mostly run by out of touch upper class snobs. In my opinion this, on top of the democrats throwing workig people under the bus decades ago just as uncaringly as the republicans do, has been a big driver of the exodus to the republican party. At least those assholes have the sense to at least pretend they care. The solution would be for leadership in all institutions to include people from all walks of life in the same proportion as their actual representation in a given society.

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to define our terms. Progressives, liberals, and Democrats are not all the same just as not all Republicans are right-wing extremists. Then there's the Tea Party. The conflation here of all these into simple binaries really just fuels a fight and name-calling that goes nowhere.

Personally, I think the Democratic Party threw progressives under a bus a long time ago, but then our political system depends on the patronage of the monied/wealthy special interest groups (if just to get TV airtime and a reasonable budget to get elected). To me, the party system is broken and flawed. And when I say that, I know that I join people from many different parts of the political spectrum (though not, likely, people and corporations who wield the power to help people get elected). It doesn't bother me one bit to know that I hold some ideas that are shared by conservatives, liberals, progressives, Teabaggers. I think we should try to not stereotype each other and call each other names; at least, if we don't like it in the public sphere, maybe we shouldn't do it ourselves.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that stereotyping people is counterproductive. I was referring to things like the major "red state/ blue state" divide, which is a class divide also. People on the coasts tend to look down on the others, and dominate agendas, and twist what others say to fit their own agenda. i.e. someone against illegal immigration becomes "anti-immigrant" and "racist" - this really offends people (who may in fact not be racist at all). I think we should take everyone's concerns seriously, rather than jumping to automatic judgment.

Isabel said...

"On the video, Schiller says: "The tea party is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian - I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of movement."

It really sticks in my craw that Jews get away with comments like this, yet other groups are not allowed to talk about Jews AT ALL EVER because of "their history". And I'm speaking as someone who was recently banned from CPP's blog for this very reason (and will probably be called an anti-semite and banned from this one now for mentioning it -whatever).

Isabel said...

oops sorry, I put the quote in the wrong place - should be "because of their history". Don't want anyone to think that I believe the history is in doubt (i.e. a holocaust denier).

Tenured Radical said...

Isabel: I'm not banning you, but I don't see any evidence that Schiller is Jewish,and I think it's kind of a weird approach to this issue regardless of what your political alliances are. Why would you counter a vast overgeneralization with another -- equally unproveable one? And what exactly has Schiller gotten away with, sicne he has been publicly humiliated, lost his job, and put public financing in jeopardy?

Isabel said...

It was a wild guess;)

And the Christian comment seems to have been overlooked, but maybe it is getting more focus in places that I don't tend to read.

Okay, I went by the name, but you have to admit its pretty likely. And that lots of (almost completely)upper class Jews, and upper class WASPs, complain pretty openly about Fundamentalist Christians, who are very low on the SES scale; and if one of them complained about Jews (even if they are just complaining about the Jewish complaints) they are automatically viewed as anti-semitic.

Though he claims I was banned for not being entertaining enough, my last comment before banned was "I wonder how dominant “whites” would appear to be in finance, politics, academia and the arts if jews were taken out of the mix?"

Tenured Radical said...

Well, you might want to stop speculating about Jewish people everywhere. I think you can be a champion of the working class w/o making unsupported (and arguably invidious) generalizations about any group of people. A lot of us are sensitive to anti-Semitism, particularly those of us who group up around forms of anti-Semitism that easily became violent or structurally discriminatory. I would include my Christian conservative friends in that group of people who are made uncomfortable by the implications of such remarks.

EchosofMel said...

Did you "hear" that 60% of graduate students at Yale are Jewish the same place you heard that 90% of liberal/progressives are Jewish, Isabel?

ShadesofSheen said...

20-25% is a far cry from 60%. We're you making some elaborate point about being pig-ignorant that is escaping me, Isabel?

Tenured Radical said...

OK, Isabel: somehow by making a gentle remark about the dangers of antisemitism I managed to provoke you into an antisemitic rant. I have deleted it (readers who find the two comments prior to this one mysterious should know they were responding to it.)

I can't let ugly stuff like that remain on my blog. I'm not banning you, but you need to pull yourself together before you comment again.

Anonymous said...

Pigs ain't ignorant -- they're pretty smart, actually.

And isn't it ironic that a great deal of anitsemitism (or at least anti-zionism) issues from the left, while some of the most ardent supporters of Israel are Tea Party adherents.

So, Isabel, it's more complicated than you think. Some Jews are liberal, but many are conservative. Some liberal elitists are Jews, but many are not. And "Jewish" names (especially German names) are often shared by non-Jews as well.

"Anti-semitism is the socialism of fools". August Bebel


Isabel said...

Not one of you has condemned the ugly things I quoted from Pysioprof and his co-blogger. And I have yet to hear why my words, that were all basically true and not ugly slurs, were anti-semitic. Not one. But you must ban me! And call ME names!How are you not proving my point? TR, do you support Physioprofs slurs, that you have now deleted?

Isabel said...

And JDB, CPP is right you are an idiot- judging how complicated I think things are by a blog comment I made? You obviously have no point of view, the lowest form of commenter.

Why don't you define anti-semitism. I'd LOVE to know how anything I have said is anti-semitic. Use quotes please, no twisted my words.

Anonymous said...

Well, Isabel, I am glad to see that you agree with CPP about something, for I believe that you and he have more in common than you think.


Isabel said...

Nice, TR. Keep censoring me,where I defend myself, and leaving all the attacks and pejoratives aimed AT me. Even if they no longer make sense on the thread. You even take the time to let people know why they don't make sense. Why didn't you just pull them? Why won't anyone take a stand against ALL bashing of groups of people to which they do not belong?

Tenured Radical said...

If you can stop leaving antisemitic comments, I will stop taking them down.

Token Straight Breeder said...

When a group makes their religion part of their political position (e.g. asking to go back to Christian values, or starting every event with a prayer to Jesus) they open themselves up to fair comment regarding their religion. Not to insult, mind you, but to comment.

It is a different issue when a person who is NOT overtly representing their group is marginalized based on being a member of that group.

I say this as a proud liberal -- but commenting on my gender, sexual preference, religion, or the fact that I am a pointy-headed intellectual, subscriber to public radio, and card-carrying member of the ACLU would be inappropriate.

Meanwhile, I do look over every email I send to a student, no matter how trivial, to make sure I would not be embarrassed it it were forwarded to their parents or the University president, and I try to maintain professional discourse while on campus or otherwise representing my institution. I have also given students permission on occasion, when they learning disabilities that interfered with note-taking, or had good reason to miss class, to record my lectures. But whether in conversation or in lecture, I would still find it a major invasion of my privacy and the rules of civil behavior to be recorded without my knowledge and permission.

Isabel said...

If you would define the term, as applied to my comments, it would help. I have saved them all, and taking down the ones where I defend myself is not helping. You didn't like that I identified certain people as Jews? That is not allowed? I didn't read that anywhere. Maybe coming too close to saying Jews have too much influence? Well there could be some truth to that. Is that ALWAYS wrong, or just when it is about Jews?

Honestly I am so angry at upper-class snobs like Physioprof and his co-blogger and their constant remarks about "whites" "pig-ignorant working class whites" "religious fanatics" (white, meaning Christian fundamentalist) and "rednecks" that I brought up their own group membership (after two years of being mocked and called a loon by CPP) and was immediately shut down. And I will keep bringing it up until they apologize and promise to stop. You keep censoring the posts where I say I don't care, but that I don't like the double standard. How is that helping?

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