Schiller Forced Out as NPR President Following Hidden-Camera Sting

March 10, 2011


Embattled NPR CEO Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday at the request of the board after a hidden-camera video was released showing a fellow executive criticizing Republicans as “anti-intellectual” and calling the Tea Party “racist.”

The resignation caps a tumultuous period for Schiller and comes just two days after she delivered a major speech in Washington outlining her vision for NPR’s future. NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards, in a statement on NPR’s website, said the board accepted Schiller’s resignation, which is “effective immediately,” with regret. According to The Associated Press, the board asked Schiller to step down, and she complied.

“The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” Edwards said.

The announcement was made one day after a conservative activist released an undercover video showing an NPR senior executive criticizing conservatives. NPR swiftly condemned the comments by Ron Schiller, who is not related to Vivian Schiller. Ron Schiller later apologized and, though he was already planning to leave NPR, said his resignation as a senior vice president and president of the NPR Foundation would be effective immediately.

But the video was gaining traction in the media by then, potentially distracting from Vivian Schiller’s message in her speech Monday in which she stressed NPR’s objectivity.

The activist who released the footage, James O’Keefe, said in a fundraising letter on his website Wednesday that his organization “just exposed the true hearts and minds of NPR and their executives.”

The controversial comments from Ron Schiller were made during a meeting with two people posing as members of a fictitious Muslim organization. The two activists, who recorded the February meeting on hidden camera, were trying to convince NPR executives to accept a $5 million donation — money NPR apparently refused.

During the meeting,  Ron Schiller talked about how the Republican Party had been “hijacked” by the Tea Party.

“The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved with people’s personal lives,” he said.

Schiller described that movement as “white, middle America, gun-toting,” and added: “They’re seriously racist people.”

Ron Schiller went on to lament what he called an “anti-intellectual” component of the Republican Party.

“Liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said.

Schiller also suggested NPR would be better off if it did not accept federal funding, fueling the argument of GOP lawmakers who for months have been pushing to halt taxpayer support for NPR.

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