Branded as a revelatory scoop uncovering previously unknown donations from George Soros to NPR, James O'Keefe's latest sting on NPR was debunked as a non-story within hours of its release.
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The news that O'Keefe purports to "break" -- that Soros had previously donated to the public broadcaster via grants from Soros' Open Society Institute -- had, in fact, long been publicly known through tax records and even press releases.
"We believe that journalism is a pillar of an open and democratic society and a critical tool for transparency and accountability," a spokeswoman for OSI, Laura Silber, told TPM after sending over a list of previous grants to NPR and affiliates. "A free and independent press serves as a watchdog of both government and the private sector. NPR, which is a respected national news organization, provides an excellent vehicle for regional and national analyses of the most critical issues facing our country."
The new audio recording features NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley talking with one of O'Keefe's actors, a member of a phony Muslim group claiming to want to donate $5 million to NPR. In their conversation, Liley discusses donations from George Soros, noting that after conservative attacks on him intensified he asked that his name not be mentioned on the air as a sponsor.
"George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress," Liley says.