NPR may be in a defensive crouch, but at least one Democratic lawmaker is publicly pushing back against James O’Keefe’s war on public broadcasting: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Durbin took to the Senate floor on Monday to mount a defense of NPR and PBS and attack O’Keefe’s credibility. Noting that previous O’Keefe tapes have been found to be misleadingly edited, including his footage of ACORN in which he posed as a pimp, Durbin said that the same tactics were being used to go after NPR. He cited a widely circulated analysis by Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, as evidence.
“Mr. O’Keefe appears to be engaged in creative editing again, and this time his target is National Public Radio,” he said. “That’s not just my opinion. The website of none other than Fox News’ own Glenn Beck — that’s right, Glenn Beck — compares the edited and unedited versions of Mr. O’Keefe’s latest video and concludes that the edited version appears to be deceptively edited in order to portray statements by one of the secretely recorded NPR execs out of context.”
Durbin called out O’Keefe for his previous antics as well, reminding lawmakers that he had been arrested and convicted on misdemeanor charges in an attempted prank on Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) office.
“Mr. O’Keefe is obviously not worried about breaking a law if he thinks he is going to come up with a sensational video,” Durbin said.
Funding for NPR and PBS are under attack from congressional Republicans, many of whom claim that their reporting is biased and that they can survive on private donations. Durbin defended their news programming as balanced.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.