Verbal gaffes offer public much insight

Freedom New Mexico

If you get a kick out of hearing important people say embarrassing things, March has been a merry month. A National Public Radio executive and a likely presidential candidate let fly with remarks they shouldn’t have, and although both prompted the usual pointing and laughing, the verbal stumbles offered insights into what these individuals really think.

First up was Ron Schiller, president of NPR’s fund-raising arm, who was tricked into talking with two people posing as Muslims offering NPR a $5 million donation. A hidden-camera video shows him slamming the tea party movement, saying its members “believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting — it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Such comments feed the perception that NPR and its parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are liberal soapboxes. This is a touchy issue. Congress already is threatening to defund public broadcasting.

But even more damaging was Schiller’s admission that NPR would be “better off in the long run” without federal support. That was a stunner, far more revealing than his blatherings about the tea party.

The Schiller affair prompted a shake-up at NPR but no retreat from its campaign to keep federal funding. That’s too bad. It is long past time for Congress to close the money spigot and let NPR and PBS fend for themselves. Ron Schiller, for one, apparently believes they can.

Then there was Newt Gingrich, the flamboyant former House speaker who’s making noises about running for president. Thrice-married and an admitted adulterer, he offered an interviewer a novel excuse for his past misbehavior: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

In other words, he had affairs because he was patriotic.

What insight can we derive from this jaw-dropping confession? Simple. Gingrich thinks Americans are suckers who’ll believe anything.