NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned, reports Politico. The move comes just one day into the fallout from conservative activist James O’Keefe’s latest “sting,” in which an outgoing executive was recorded on tape saying that the American tea party movement is made up of “white, middle-class, America gun-toting” and “seriously racist, racist people.”
The comments were made by Ron Schiller (of no relation to Vivian Schiller), who’s NPR’s exiting vice president for development.
“The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” board chairman Dave Edwards said in a statement, according to Politico. “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.”
O’Keefe is best known as the young man who helped take down ACORN by posing as a pimp. Although ACORN was later cleared of any wrongdoing, O’Keefe’s video was the lightening rod that ultimately led to the stalwart organization’s demise.
This time, O’Keefe posed as a member of the fictitious organization “Muslim Action Education Center,” a group that claimed to have ties with the “Muslim Brotherhood of America.” O’Keefe and his accomplices met Schiller at a recent lunch.
In the video, which hit the Web on Tuesday, Schiller also says that NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding” and that the tea party is a movement that’s “fanatically involved in people’s lives”, “fundamentalist Christian” and “xenophobia” and that it’s been “hijacked” by the Republican party, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Dana Davis Rehm, NPR’s senior vice president of marketing said on Tuesday that the organization is “appalled by comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.” Rehm also noted that O’Keefe’s phony operation tried to convince NPR to accept a $5-million check, with no strings attached, but the company repeatedly refused to accept.
All this comes as NPR battles some conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been trying to strip the organization of federal support, which it receives through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Embarrassingly, Ron Schiller’s comments are at odds with the organization’s official position on the matter, according to the Times.
Yet Ron Schiller’s claims of tea party racism aren’t exactly unfounded. There have been numerous high profile instances in which so-called “fringe” members have resorted to name-calling and racist imagery. Last fall, the Institute for Research & Education released a 94 page report that found strong links between the party and white nationalist groups.