…Is telling the truth. This answers the NPR ombudsman’s question:

It’s hard to decide which of [fired NPR development director Ron] Schiller’s remarks [in a heavily-edited video released by dishonest jackass James O'Keefe] was worse for someone representing NPR.

– That the Republican Party is “anti-intellectual?”

– That Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic.I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-American gun-toting, I mean it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

– Or that NPR “would be better off in the long-run without federal funding” – a position that directly conflicts with NPR and public media’s stance against Congress slashing $400 million in federal funding.

– Or that Schiller seemed to be saying that conservatives, by and large, are uneducated. …

The challenge with O’Keefe’s video is that it is obviously heavily edited.

The one he got canned for was, presumably, saying that NPR would be better off without government funding. NPR is currently fighting to retain its government funding. It’s not a big part of the budget for NPR, but in these lean times, the 2% of its budget that comes from competitive federal grants isn’t something they want to lose.

The other stuff is surely what got O’Keefe most excited, but the only reason anyone would think it scandalous is the famous Kinsley gaffe: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”

Are teabaggers xenophobic? Hell yes (with some exceptions, surely). Are Republicans anti-intellectual? Hell yes (with some exceptions, surely). Are conservatives uneducated? Well…

In one dataset I checked quickly, there’s a trivial correlation between political ideology and education, but nothing much of practical consequence. Polychoric correlation was 0.07, non-parametric correlation was 0.05, and tests of significance were generally weak. That significant correlation says that liberals are somewhat better educated than conservatives on average. But it’s small size says that it’s wrong to say either group is uneducated in general.

But remember that, as the NPR ombudsman noted, “The challenge with O’Keefe’s video is that it is obviously heavily edited,” so it’s possible that this isn’t the sense in which Schiller intended those comments. And indeed, he clarified to the ombudsman:

“What I meant by ‘uneducated’, for example, were people who viciously attack federal funding and NPR without facts, and people who attack Muslim people because of lack of education about Muslims,” said Schiller in an email to me. “That, of course, hardly comes through at all.” Even so, Schiller admits he said some stupid things.

Are conservatives uneducated in that sense? Again, I have to say yes, with notable exceptions. When you have guys like George Will, supposedly one of the smarter conservative pundits, making blatantly false claims, and refusing attempts at correcting him, it tells to something about the state of conservatives’ willingness to be educated. When teabaggers insist on talking about the “Ground Zero Mosque” even though it isn’t a mosque and isn’t at Ground Zero, it’s fair to say that they’re uninterested in being educated, and there’s no reason not to call it xenophobia. And when members of Congress dismiss the testimony of leading climate scientists because they think scienitsts are “elitist” and “arrogant.”

There are good reasons not to be arrogant, and not to be elitist, and not to shove charges of xenophobia and anti-intellectualism and so forth in people’s faces. Schiller’s job is bringing in money, and that’s not a goal served by being incendiary. But firing him, and then having NPR’s chief executive step down, sends the signal that NPR feels politically weak, and that perception can easily turn into reality. Schiller should have apologized and NPR should have left it at that and pressed the question of what material was edited out of the video. O’Keefe has a well-established history of dishonest editing in his hit-pieces, and NPR shouldn’t have granted him credibility by treating his claims as legitimate without being able to verify the context.

And if Republicans or conservatives or teabaggers don’t want to be called uneducated or anti-intellectual or xenophobic, then the first step might be to stop attacking NPR. Attacks on NPR and PBS are attacks on a forum for intellectually stimulating discussions, venues which educate the public and the broader discourse, and which present a genuine diversity of voices, from across boundaries ethnic, racial, sexual, and nation. Attacking NPR validates thus all of Schiller’s claims.

Comments

  1. #1 Don WV
    March 10, 2011

    @Joshua Rosenau, I must say that I am an Independent.
    Also, I am not affiliated with Republicans or the Tea Party.
    I can honestly say that your article even offends me! Is this the way REAL Liberals think? I feel very sorry for you! It is very obvious you are an INTELLECTUAL SNOB!

  2. #2 Anthony McCarthy
    March 10, 2011

    Teabaggers are more likely to believe untrue things, things that can be shown to be untrue such as the lie that the health care bill included death, that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and a host of other lies that were invented for obvious political purposes, many of them clearly connected to racism. Though I’d emphasize the dishonesty, greed and the cowardice of targeting the powerless poor when it’s the billionaires who fund their “movement” who are destroying the middle class.

    It’s generally a mistake to believe that the far right are stupid, the problem is that they are clever but dishonest. I doubt most of them care if the things they say are lies, it doesn’t make any difference when massive evidence of their falsehood is shown to them. A lie is as good as the truth, to them, if it does what they want it to.

  3. #3 c.s.delozier
    March 10, 2011

    Holy crap. Don WV has me scratching my head wondering where the snobbery is in this article. I just don’t see it.

    In fact Joshua even stipulates that a study showed no real statistically significant indication that Republicans are broadly behind (as far as education was concerned.) Joshua allows the quote about Schiller to determine the true sense of Schiller’s own statement. The following paragraph about George Will further specifying that there are some instances where Republicans act in an uneducated and willfully ignorant way, giving several specific examples of what Schiller was glancing upon.

    Please come back Don and point out what exactly offended you about this article. Otherwise it just seems that you’re having an emotionally driven knee-jerk reaction to something disagreeable because it didn’t come from your preferred pundit’s mouth.

  4. #4 Don WV
    March 10, 2011

    @c.s.delozier, You wanted me to come back and explain my comments?
    “Are conservatives uneducated in that sense? Again, I have to say yes, with notable exceptions”
    Grouping any group of people together and saying they are uneducated, to me is the same as saying they are stupid!
    To me that is like saying ALL Muslims are terrorist, well with a few exceptions. Or inner city blacks are mostly uneducated, well with a few exceptions. Or Democrats are all socialists well with a few exceptions. By grouping people together as a political party, religion, or race is promoting bigotry!
    “A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs. The predominant usage in modern English refers to persons hostile to those of differing race, ethnicity, nationality, inter-regional prejudice, gender and sexual orientation, homelessness, various medical disorders particularly behavioral disorders and addictive disorders and religion or spirituality. Forms of bigotry may have a related ideology or world views.”
    In the video was Ron Schiller being a bigot according to its definition? Hell Yes! Joshua Rosenau actions by agreeing and obviously supporting these actions makes him a bigot by the definition, in my opinion!
    “And if Republicans or conservatives or teabaggers don’t want to be called uneducated or anti-intellectual or xenophobic, then the first step might be to stop attacking NPR” This statement says it all! He isn’t stating fact in this article, he is just name calling!

  5. #5 Don WV
    March 10, 2011

    I also have a problem with this statement!
    “And when members of Congress dismiss the testimony of leading climate scientists because they think scienitsts are “elitist” and “arrogant.”
    Most climate scientist are arrogant, with a few exceptions!
    (I used that statement to prove my point!)
    Here is a quote from a prominent ex climate scientist I received in a private email!

    ” the climate gate situation really goes well beyond the set of emails. i
    have met scientists from ipcc who are super arrogant. there needs to be turn
    over in the ipcc.
    finally, i am no longer at ncar. i was fired from there in august 2008, i
    suspect for reasons related to not towing the line on ‘selling science’ to
    the public. my goal was to share and explain the science, certainties and
    uncertainties.”
    Also it is people who question climate science, not just not the Tea Party! For your information I can point you to 1000 published papers that may not deny climate change but certainly make a person question the science. BTW Nobody I know denies the climate has warmed, they question if man is the cause or some natural phenomena. The problem is the media only reports one side of this debate. Even when I try to post actual peer reviewed information that questions this on certain websites, my post never get posted! The only post to get posted is the ones from mis informed people who screams, There is no global warming its cold outside!

  6. #6 David
    March 10, 2011

    I think much of the confusion around the term ‘educated’ as used by Schiller and objected to by Don WV in the comments could be avoided with some clarification.

    With the additional quote from Schiller it is clear he could have also said ‘ignorant’ but because someone is ignorant about a particular issue does not mean they are stupid (looking at you Don WV).

    I’m ignorant about a great many things (more than I’m not) and so is everyone else, no matter how intelligent and well educated. The issue is how people approach their ignorance and what is being noted by this piece, evidenced by the GOP’s attacks on services such as NPR, is an opposition to rectifying ignorance. Conservatives have built a dangerous pride in ignorance and various mechanisms to preserve this in the face of considered and reasonable criticisms.

    Don CW, arrogance and dismissiveness has nothing to do with the substance of an argument or the evidence in favour of a conclusion. A climate scientist can be the biggest asshat in the world but if his arguments and evidence support the conclusion humans are influencing climate with greenhouse emissions then I’m inclined to grant the argument. Doesn’t mean I’ll buy him a drink or seek to become friends.

    Furthermore, it isn’t about a set number of papers when considering the scientific literature; it is about the burden of the literature overall. So while you may have a list of 1000 papers which cast doubt on AGW(somehow, albeit without commenting directly by your own description), how many papers supporting the hypothesis exist? How does the two evidence streams compare? Which is more robust? Which has greater explanatory power? Etc. Your claims are disingenuous if you are indeed someone with scientific expertise and experience.

  7. #7 Don WV
    March 11, 2011

    David,”Furthermore, it isn’t about a set number of papers when considering the scientific literature; it is about the burden of the literature overall. So while you may have a list of 1000 papers which cast doubt on AGW(somehow, albeit without commenting directly by your own description), how many papers supporting the hypothesis exist? How does the two evidence streams compare? Which is more robust? Which has greater explanatory power?”
    I do realize it isn’t about the number of papers ect.
    But, people must not throw out a sound theory just because evidence points stronger toward another. In the science I study all theories should always be considered until proven false! I do not deny AGW, nor do I support this theory. But other just as sound theories exist. The major differences is the amount of research money put towards them and the amount of media hype! 30 years ago if one would say we would find water on Mars, most scientist would have told you all the research states “no water exists on Mars” because the majority of research and modern theories pointed to that fact!

  8. #8 bill
    March 11, 2011

    Are teabaggers xenophobic? Hell yes (with some exceptions, surely). Are Republicans anti-intellectual? Hell yes (with some exceptions, surely).

    I find these statements anti-intellectual.

    Are liberals anti-intellectual? Hell yes (with some exceptions).

    Are redheads pedophiles? Hell yes (with some exceptions).

    Making derogatory personal statements about ‘teabaggers’ instead of respectfully debating their concerns about real fiscal problems is anti-intellectual.

  9. #9 Don WV
    March 11, 2011

    @David,It is the proper role of a scientist to observe, record, and interpret data. It is not the role of any scientist in any field to to promote one solution above all others. Scientists worthy of the name do not behave as if there were only one response to a problem.

  10. #10 Anthony McCarthy
    March 11, 2011

    bill, the tea party fad fell for the lie that the health care bill included “death panels”, that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States, that he was a covert Muslim (as if there was something wrong with being one) and a host of other lies promoted on FOX and by some of the most dishonest people in the media, in politics and in the lobbying industry. No amount of evidence would convince them of the falsity of those ideas, which had no supporting evidence. And that’s just the brief list.

    I’m not sorry to have to insist, but the brief history of the tea party is practically a definition of intellectual dishonesty. I don’t think it’s because most or at least many of them don’t know better, I think it’s because they’re a bunch of racists who hate that the United States has a black president, who is hardly liberal and who has alienated many of his supporters by caving in to the right. They don’t care if they’re lying, if the lie gets them what they want, there isn’t one they won’t tell and spread. That is the definition of anti-intellectual, it negate the only reason that intellectual activity has more value than not thinking at all.

  11. #11 Josh Rosenau
    March 11, 2011

    Don: Saying “It is not the role of any scientist in any field to to promote one solution above all others” is as wrong and foolish as saying “It is not the role of any citizen to to promote one solution above all others.” It is the job of scientists to conduct research, to publish their results, and to share the expertise and knowledge they gain by doing research. A scientist is a citizen, and like any citizen, has an obligation to speak out when he or she has something valuable to contribute.

  12. #12 Josh Rosenau
    March 11, 2011

    Bill: I’ll debate teabaggers respectfully when they stop showing up at rallies armed to the teeth. As long as they act like bullies, I’ll treat them like bullies.

  13. #13 Don WV
    March 11, 2011

    Josh, Maybe I communicated that statement poorly. Maybe what I should have said is not the role of scientist to promote only one theory when the evidence also points to other valid theories. Also like I stated before,scientists worthy of the name do not behave as if there were only one response to a problem.

  14. #14 Don WV
    March 11, 2011

    Josh,”I’ll treat them like bullies.” Like I stated before, I am not affiliated with the Tea Party, Likewise I am not here to defend them! I know of the Tea Party, and I do not agree with all of their ideas. I do realize some Tea Party members have toted guns in the past at rallies, but you do have bad apples in any group! I was really bothered with the way this article reads! To me you are only promoting bigotry, you are being a bigot yourself! Also, I was offended by your using uneducated as a fact, but you use it to degrade another person or group of people! I live in West Virginia, and quite frankly the term uneducated hill billies, or the misconception that we all live in shacks, barefoot, or uneducated rednecks! I do not feel I fall into any of these categories! And I still think global warming may exist, but I do feel it has been highly exaggerated! Does this mean I am an uneducated, xenophobic, West Virginia redneck? Hell NO!!
    This means I do not agree with you! Nothing more, nothing less!

  15. #15 VM
    March 11, 2011

    Concern troll is concerned.

  16. #16 Laurent Weppe
    March 11, 2011

    When you have guys like George Will, supposedly one of the smarter conservative pundits, making blatantly false claims, and refusing attempts at correcting him, it tells to something about the state of conservatives’ willingness to be educated. When teabaggers insist on talking about the “Ground Zero Mosque” even though it isn’t a mosque and isn’t at Ground Zero, it’s fair to say that they’re uninterested in being educated

    uneducated or willingly lying. I might be sounding like a broken record, but I’m quite convinced that the self-awareness of teabaggers is grossly underestimated.

    Right now, I’m hypothetising that teabaggers know when they are spewing BS. That their main objective is not to convince us, but to make us believe that they really believe in what they say.

    In other words, I’m suspecting that Hanlon’s Razor is wrong. If you are malicious, if your objective is, say, to ensure the prosperity of the subset of your country that you are part of by deliberately screwing everyone else, it might be in your interest to appear as a moronic bigot trembling at imaginary threats, thus obfuscating the fact that you are an unrepenting motherfucker, making the rest of society less cautious and therefore less able to fend you off when the opportunity do get vicious presents itself.

  17. #17 Anthony McCarthy
    March 13, 2011

    I’ll debate teabaggers respectfully when they stop showing up at rallies armed to the teeth. As long as they act like bullies, I’ll treat them like bullies.

    Posted by: Josh Rosenau

    Yes. If you allow them to set different rules of conduct for themselves, it’s the same as accepting a double standard imposed for their benefit. It’s no way to get to the truth, it’s a betrayal of the truth to give in to them.

  18. #18 Owen
    March 17, 2011

    I think Don WV went off his meds.

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