Piers Morgan is turning out to have a knack for uniting otherwise natural enemies. To discuss the current mess at NPR prompted by comments former NPR employee Ron Schiller made about the Tea Party being racist, Morgan got NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard to share airtime with James O’Keefe mentor Andrew Breitbart, and while their rhetorical paths did not cross, they both gave Morgan some important insight into the story.
Shepard began her half of the interview distancing herself from NPR, explaining that, “as ombudsman, I am not representing NPR. I am representing listeners and online viewers.” Asked by Morgan whether it was correct for those involved in the matter to have departed the organization, she curtly answered that “it’s not my business to make that decision,” but that the situation was unfortunate and troublesome for the organization. “that Ron Schiller video is a big black eye for NPR,” she noted, “and it’s so unfortunate because there’s just so many people who are involved in public radio who do a really good job every day and I don’t think that reflects their views.” She also clarified that most of NPR’s funding did not come from the federal government, a point conservatives have been making for some time.
Morgan was a bit rougher on Breitbart than Shepard given the nature of his career, and began by merely asking whether O’Keefe’s prank was “fair game.” “Of course this is fair game,” Breitbart replied, noting that CNN had named the prankster who tricked Wisconsin governor Scott Walker “person of intrigue of the day” and seemed to have a “double-standard” about right-wing polemics. Naming a few liberal provocateurs in the journalism business, Breitbart argued that they had “been given their own wing of the j-schools because they have the politically correct left of center point of view.”
Morgan persisted, however, apparently not satisfied with those answers. He pointed out both O’Keefe’s and Breitbart’s previous “skullduggery” and asking, flatly, whether it was “fair.” Breitbart replied, listing a series of similar undercover stunts, that “this has been done in the media forever.” Then the two had an interesting exchange where Morgan attempted to label Breitbart an “activist.” “No more so than Geraldo Rivera,” Breitbart argued, declining the title. “I would call him an activist, too,” Morgan replied, which prompted Breitbart to note “you’re British” and compare the current state of UK media with that in America. “I think we’re moving towards where the British are… I think we are ending this era of false objectivity in this country.”
While it would have been interesting to see some dialogue between Breitbart and Shepard, the conversation proved rather enlightening and civil, and Morgan wrapped it up in a quite simple but eloquent manner: “the way to stop further entrapment like this is for people to stop saying stupid things.”
The discussion via CNN below:
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