Vivian Schiller, NPR chief, resigns amid uproar over 'sting video'
Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR, stepped down Wednesday in the wake of a sting video that showed an NPR fundraiser disparaging conservatives. With the Vivian Schiller departure, NPR is left to fight criticism that intolerance is part of its DNA.
NPR chief executive officer Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday in the wake of a sting video that showed fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) disparaging conservatives, the tea party movement, and former NPR political analyst Juan Williams, whose firing in October may have set into motion one of the most tumultuous eras in NPR's 41-year history.Skip to next paragraph
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James O'Keefe, the controversial conservative sting artist behind the ACORN "pimp videos," said Mr. Williams's firing in October sparked the latest sting operation, in which two actors posing as representatives of a Muslim Brotherhood front group met with Mr. Schiller, a fundraising vice president, to discuss making a $5 million gift to NPR.
The departures of Vivian Schiller and Ron Schiller – and the reason behind them – may further damage NPR's reputation as a public-service broadcaster and could threaten taxpayer support of NPR, which indirectly comes to about $90 million a year.
NPR reporter David Folkenflik said on-air Wednesday that Ms. Schiller was "forced out," a hint that the organization wants to jettison its leadership and set a new direction.
"I recognize the magnitude of this news – and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community," said Dave Edwards, chairman of NPR's Board of Directors, in a statement Wednesday morning. "The Board is committed to supporting NPR through this interim period and has confidence in NPR's leadership team."
In a wide-ranging conversation during the video sting, Mr. Schiller appeared to belittle “uneducated Americans” who adhere unthinkingly to a conservative party line. He also characterized tea party activists as “seriously, seriously racist” and bemoaned the dearth of “educated, so-called elites” in the political debate.
NPR said Tuesday it was “appalled” by Mr. Schiller’s comments (first made public on the Daily Caller website). Mr. Schiller, who had already announced in January that he would leave NPR in May, has agreed to depart immediately, saying the comments he made were contrary to NPR's values and were "not reflective of my own beliefs." NPR said in Tuesday's statement that the fake donors – part of Mr. O’Keefe’s Project Veritas – “repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused.”