Vivian Schiller. (Stephen Voss/The Washington Post)
Update: NPR’s Ombudsman gave a fascinating Q&A online chat with the Post on Ron Schiller’s conduct (”He wasn’t fired for harboring negative views about conservatives. it was the unprofessional manner that cost him his job. Who blabs to total strangers in public about their personal biases? Who doesn’t vet a prospective donor before meeting. PBS got the same offer and turned it down.”) and about Vivian Schiller’s departure (”She has done an amazing job of “rescuing” NPR and bringing it into the digital age. When she arrived two years ago, NPR was in a financial mess. She was instrumental in changing that.”). Read the whole chat here.
Vivian Schiller, CEO and president of NPR, resigned Wednesday. Schiller came under heavy criticism last year for the dismissal of Juan Williams, a former employee who was fired after making comments about Muslims on a Fox News show.
Tuesday an undercover video of NPR executive Ron Schiller (no relation to Vivian Schiller) brought more negative press to the network. In the video Ron Schiller can be seen saying “tea party people” aren’t “just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”
Ron Schiller had resigned from NPR to join the Aspen Institute, however the Aspen Institute has since sent out a statement saying that Schiller felt it was not in the best interest of the Institute for him to work there at this time.
The video was surreptiously taped by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist known for his undercover filming. O’Keefe told CNN on Tuesday that he targeted NPR because of Williams’s dismissal.
Williams appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Tuesday criticizing his former employers. “These people [NPR executives] are so rude and condescending,” Williams said. “They attack anybody that disagrees with their point of view -- this elitist, NPR point of view.”
The Two-Way blog at NPR just reported: “I’m told by sources that she was forced out,” NPR’s David Folkenflik just said on Morning Edition.
NPR just published this statement from Dave Edwards, the chairman of the board of directors:
“It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately.
“The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years.
“Vivian brought vision and energy to this organization. She led NPR back from the enormous economic challenges of the previous two years. She was passionately committed to NPR’s mission, and to stations and NPR working collaboratively as a local-national news network.
“According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the Board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO. The Board will immediately establish an Executive Transition Committee that will develop a timeframe and process for the recruitment and selection of new leadership.
“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. The Board is committed to supporting NPR through this interim period and has confidence in NPR’s leadership team.”
We’ll report more as the news develops.
Juan Williams on Sean Hannity: