As if NPR needed any more problems: the news organization’s senior VP for development, Ron Schiller, was allegedly caught on film making some very unflattering remarks about Tea Partiers, Republicans, and Zionists, the Daily Caller reported this morning:
A man who appears to be a National Public Radio senior executive, Ron Schiller, has been captured on camera savaging conservatives and the Tea Party movement. …
In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give up to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”
The whole video can be watched here. Schiller spoke at length about the Tea Party’s ignorance, intolerance, whiteness, gun-totingness, and so on. His comments about Republicans and the firing of Juan Williams are sure to offend as well.
But, as Dave Weigel notes, “Schilling is a professional fundraiser, not a journalist.” So whether it was ethical for him to express such partisan political views during a lunch with potential NPR donors is certainly up for debate.
That line blurs, however, when he begins talking about Zionist and Jewish influence in the media:
When the ersatz Islamists declare they’re “not too upset about maybe a little bit less Jew influence of money into NPR,” Schiller responds by saying he doesn’t find “Zionist or pro-Israel” ideas at NPR, “even among funders. I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers, obviously, but no one owns NPR.”
Liley chimes in at this point to add that, “even one of our biggest funders who you’ll hear on air, The American Jewish World Service, may not agree with us. I visited with them recently and they may not agree with what we put on the air but they find us important to them and, sometimes it’s not that easy to hear what we say and what our reporters say, but they still think NPR is important to support.”
Schiller added that “they [the American Jewish World Service] are really looking for a fair point of view and many Jewish organizations are not.”
When the potential donors mention Zionist funding of the media, Schiller responds that “it’s there in people who own newspapers, obviously. But nobody ‘owns’ NPR.” It’s not clear whether Schiller actually agrees with what the fake potential donors are saying or whether he was simply pandering to them.
The news organization is in a battle to save its federal funding, and obviously this video won’t help matters. It also looks like NPR may have known this video was coming. Current.org announced yesterday that Schiller has taken a new job at the Aspen Institute:
NPR Foundation President Ron Schiller has taken a new job as director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program. Schiller, who joined NPR in September 2009, worked to build fundraising collaborations between NPR and member stations through projects such as Impact of Government. Schiller starts his new position on April 1, and will work out of the Institute’s offices in Aspen, Colo., where he has lived on at least a part-time basis since 2006.