In NPR Sting Audio, Fundraiser Betsy Liley Makes Plans to Shield Radical-Muslim Donors from the Public

The Washington Post reported the latest NPR sting recording on the front page of Friday's Style section. The Daily Caller posted new audio from Betsy Liley, NPR's senior director of institutional giving (who's on administrative leave, but has not resigned). In the first video, Liley stood out for sympathetically telling the ersatz Muslims how deeply wrong the American people are: “Sadly our history from the record ... shows that we've done this before. We put Japanese Americans in camps in World War II,” she said.

How today's atmosphere for Muslims resembles FDR's policies is anyone's guess. Liley's not alone: Rep. Keith Ellison made the same wild conflation on the PBS NewsHour last night, and no one objected (including GOP Rep. Michael McCaul).

In the new posting, Liley is telling fictitious radical Muslim “Ibrahim Kasaam” that she could shield their planned $5 million donation from a government audit. She later informed him that NPR's management had cleared the donation. As Post reporter Paul Farhi noted, this contradicts NPR's claims that it “repeatedly refused” to accept donations from this group.

"Kassam" expressed concerns that NPR, which receives government funding, would be subject to government audits or have to disclose the source of its donations.

Liley responded, "If you were concerned about that, you might want to be an anonymous donor and we would certainly, if that was your interest, we would want to shield you from that."

At another point, Kasaam asked Liley, "It sounded like you're saying that NPR would be able to shield us from a government audit, is that correct?"

"I think that is the case, especially if you were anonymous, and I can inquire about that," Liley said.  

Farhi added: "It's not illegal for a nonprofit organization to accept a contribution from a donor that wishes to remain anonymous. But in this case, the issue appears to be how far would NPR have gone to protect the anonymity of a potentially unsavory donor - one that might have connections to interests hostile to the United States."  

It might seem a little amazing that an entity actually funded by the federal government of the United States would be so willing to accept donations from a group that seems obviously hostile to this country. But NPR has often bitten the hand that feeds it, especially during the Bush administration, when plenty of investigative reporting from journalists like Daniel Zwerdling and talk-show interviewers like Terry Gross dwelled heavily on charges of American government mistreatment of terrorism suspects. It didn't want to be "state-run radio" then, even if it seems much more like that in the Obama era.

NPR told Farhi in a statement that Liley's statements were "factually inaccurate," that this putative radical-Muslim donation would have remained invisible to tax authorities. But reporting a donor like this to the IRS isn't really very "public," and is in no way equivalent to how NPR tells its listening audience who its donors are through on-air underwriting announcements.

Not every million-dollar donation is acknowledged on the air. (I haven't yet heard any underwriting announcement for the George Soros $1.8 million donation on air, for example.)

Tim Graham's picture

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