Apparently it only takes $50,000 to get the public worked up about NPR. This we learn from conservative prankster/sting operator James O'Keefe's email to supporters, published by Talking Points Memo. The email is a plea for money: O'Keefe says he and his associates have racked up some impressive credit card debt while working on the two NPR sting videos that hit in the past month, and is now seeking donations to help finance future projects to help "expose government abuse and corruption" ("Crony Capitalism" too!).

"It cost us about $50,000 when all is said and done to produce the NPR video," O'Keefe wrote. "If you help us raise over $50,000, it will go toward our next video--after we pay off our credits cards, of course." According to the email posted on TPM, O'Keefe plans to "grow an army of investigative journalists" presumably to help do the dirty work that "the multi-billion dollar major media Goliath" is failing to do to expose corruption.

$50,000 could seem expensive or cheap, depending on how you look at it. After all, it wound up producing two sting videos, got two executives fired, restored credibility to one conservative muckraker, and, arguably, lent crucial momentum to a vote to strip a major news organization of its federal funding. On the other hand, $50,000 seems a pretty steep price just to get conservatives to say they don't like NPR, and the videos didn't seem like high production-value affairs.

The most obvious money sinks from an outside perspective might be the rented stretch limousine (which shuttled O'Keefe's team in the first NPR video) and the fake Muslim Education Action Center website.