Mar 8, 2011

NPR exec tells conservative pranksters exactly what they want to hear*

Yesterday, NPR's president gave a speech about the future of public radio at the National Press Club. But no one is talking about that. Instead, it's the words of NPR fund-raising executive Ronald Schiller, that are ringing out across the interwebs today.

Here's a summary of what went down from the New York Times:
The executive, Ronald Schiller, was recorded secretly by the Republican filmmaker and mischief-maker James O’Keefe. On the videotape, Mr. Schiller tells people posing as Muslim philanthropists that the Republican party has been “hijacked” by the Tea Party and that Tea Party supporters are “seriously racist, racist people.” Mr. Schiller indicates that he is sharing his personal point of view, not NPR’s.

Dana Davis Rehm, a spokeswoman for NPR, said in a statement Tuesday, “We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.”

The release of the video comes at a sensitive time for NPR. Republicans in Congress who view NPR as biased are trying to cut federal funding for its local stations across the country. They are likely to seize on the video as further evidence of their views and further reason to reduce funding for the stations.
Schiller, who is no relation to NPR President Vivian Schiller, was already on his way out at NPR after taking a job with the Aspen Institute. But, well, whatever.

*Update: If you want to see how conservatives are playing this story, here are two links the influential Heritage Foundation recommended in its daily email blast: "Bad Timing for NPR" and "NPR's Diversity Doublespeak". All of this comes as public radio advocates, including KCRW's Jennfer Ferro, urge the Senate to keep the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funded.

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