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.
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Last year, Williams, an award-winning journalist and an expert on the civil rights movement, was fired from his longtime position as an NPR news analyst over a statement he made on Fox News, a side gig. Williams said Tuesday that Ron Schiller and Vivian Schiller both should be fired because their leadership threatened to "destroy" NPR's reputation.Skip to next paragraph
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In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity Tuesday night, Williams said Mr. Schiller’s professed views hint at intolerance inside NPR, whose organization he claims is rooted in a liberal orthodoxy that results in the same kind of bigotry it decries in others.
“These people are so rude and condescending, and they say I’m a bigot because I tell you how I feel?” said Williams. (NPR fired him after he said on Fox News that he feels nervous when boarding a flight and spotting a Muslim in traditional clothing.) “They attack the tea party as anti-intellectual and biased. They attack anybody that doesn’t agree with their point of view," Williams said of NPR officials, speaking on "Hannity." The sting video is "like tuning a radio and by accident you've got the right wavelength and now you're hearing the truth.... You can see who they are in a way you haven’t before.
Days after Ms. Schiller said she bungled the Williams firing, the Veritas video showed Mr. Schiller saying he was proud of the way NPR had handled it. He said he thought Williams had acted unethically and had subsequently lost his credibility as a journalist. (Williams signed a fulltime deal with Fox News after getting the boot from NPR.)
In the video, Mr. Schiller also told the men posing as donors that he agreed that most newspapers have a pro-Israel or Zionist viewpoint that damages their coverage of Muslims.
Williams has also noted that NPR, which in its commentary advocates ethnic and racial diversity, fired its only African-American male commentator over a single comment – though Williams’s gig at Fox News had long been a point of tension between Williams and NPR. After Williams was fired, the National Association of Black Journalists chided NPR for its failure to hire more African-American journalists.
Ms. Schiller said Tuesday that diversity “is a very, very big priority for us. We have a number of different initiatives under way to diversify – further diversify – our staff, our reporters, the people we interview on the air, and, of course, our audience. We think we’ve made some progress, but it’s not nearly enough.”
NPR critics say such comments are evidence of “doublespeak.”
“They proclaim to be nonracist, nonbigoted, straightforward … and here this guy adds a slam on Jews,” said Williams in the "Hannity" interview. “I’m the devil, Sean, and he’s going on about people in this disparaging way where NPR and he are the really good guys, the smart people, and isn’t it sad that more people like them aren’t running America.”
Maxie Jackson, for one, disagrees with Mr. Schiller’s statement that middle America is “uneducated.” But Mr. Jackson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, seemed frustrated by Mr. Schiller's comments.
“I’m from East Lansing, I’m from middle America, and I would hope and firmly believe that the folks who are residing in middle America are intelligent and capable of discerning the difference between a fundraiser at NPR, his personal perspective, versus the news journalism department at National Public Radio,” says Jackson in a phone interview.