Kevin Drum has a good rundown of sting activities in the last couple of years, and concludes:
ACORN, Climategate, Planned Parenthood, and NPR. Well-timed sting operations are now the go-to tactic for conservatives trying to discredit programs that they and their funders dislike. And as long as the press continues to eat this stuff up, we can expect it to keep coming. In the meantime, the best that liberals have is a prank call with the governor of Wisconsin—something that left barely a scratch on him. It’s time to pick up our game.
Both Walker and NPR’s Schiller were caught saying bad things but doing nothing wrong (though Walker arguably intimated that doing wrong was seriously contemplated). The difference is that NPR acted like they did something wrong, and Walker served the world a giant slice of fuck you marblecake. I think the prank call hurt Walker, but his damage control was pretty good, and he certainly didn’t do something stupid like firing the secretary who forwarded him the call. NPR’s Schillers, in contrast, folded like cheap suits over a few comments that were less incendiary than Walker’s.
NPR’s response guaranteed that James O’Keefe’s next few pranks are going to get lots of press attention, and I can’t blame the media, because someone who has the power to bring down the CEO of a major news organization is a newsmaker. NPR’s response should have been “we didn’t take a cent from those guys, send a letter to our ombudsman if you think our coverage is biased, and fuck you for wasting our fundraiser’s time”. Instead, the ease at which O’Keefe shook that organization’s timbers will probably launch another half dozen O’Keefe clones.
That said, the answer isn’t more liberal stings, it’s just a wee bit of backbone from the obvious targets.