On the April 21 broadcast of Fox Business' Stossel, John Stossel hosted disgraced right-wing filmmaker James O'Keefe to debate privacy rights of those targeted by undercover sting videos. During the segment, which was rebroadcast April 23 on the Fox News Channel, Stossel praised the so-called success of O'Keefe's sting videos against ACORN and NPR, but at no point did he mention that O'Keefe's videos were found to be deceptively edited. Moreover, Stossel falsely claimed that O'Keefe is "careful not to go to" states with two party filming consent laws, when, in fact, O'Keefe has conducted his undercover video operations in several states with law prohibiting such activities.
As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, O'Keefe has been widely criticized for deceptively editing his videos. For instance, O'Keefe's ACORN videos were found to be edited to falsely suggest criminal violations by ACORN employees. Then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office conducted an investigation into the ACORN videos that concluded there was no evidence of illegal activity by ACORN, and that O'Keefe's videos were deceptively edited to suggest otherwise. According to Brown: "[T]hings are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor." Glenn Beck's website, The Blaze, compared the raw video footage of O'Keefe's video hit against NPR executives and found that the video was edited to "intentionally lie or mislead." NPR contributor David Folkenflik also asked independent consultants to review both the edited video and the raw footage, and wrote of their findings:
In addition, several times the donors seek to goad [then-NPR chief fundraiser Ron] Schiller and [Betsey] Liley into making inflammatory statements about conservatives or Fox News personalities, and they deflect them. At one point, Liley explains that she attended Purdue University, which she describes as a conservative and respected research university, and that people there relied on Fox to get much of their news.
Menz, [a Sacramento-based] digital forensics consultant, said he found some of Schiller's actual remarks disturbing. But by analyzing time stamps, Menz concluded that many of Schiller's remarks in that shorter video are presented out of sequence from the questions that were posed.
"For me, in my background, it immediately puts things into question," Menz said. "You really don't know what context these were in, what was going on in the 20 minutes before and after this question was asked."
Take the political remarks. Ron Schiller speaks of growing up as a Republican and admiring the party's fiscal conservatism. He says Republican politicians and evangelicals are becoming "fanatically" involved in people's lives.
But in the shorter tape, Schiller is also presented as saying the GOP has been "hijacked" by Tea Partiers and xenophobes.
In the longer tape, it's evident Schiller is not giving his own views but instead quoting two influential Republicans -- one an ambassador, another a senior Republican donor. Schiller notably does not take issue with their conclusions -- but they are not his own. [NPR,3/14/11]
In addition, Stossel's claim that O'Keefe avoids conducting his video stings in states with two party consent laws is simply false. In his ACORN videos, O'Keefe conducted stings in California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, which all have two party consent laws.
Given the wealth of real investigative journalists who conduct their important work in an ethical manner, it is simply unfathomable why Stossel would stoop to hosting O'Keefe as a pillar of investigative journalism. After all, this is the same guy who recently was caught trying to frame CNN correspondent Abby Boudreau by attempting to seduce her on a boat filled with sex toys. Stossel has certainly hit some low points during the course of his career, but this one just may take the cake.
*This item has been updated to reflect that it was then-NPR chief fundraiser Ron Schiller, not then-NPR CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation), who attended lunch with O'Keefe's undercover videographers.