Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The bad apple's dirty laundry, thoroughly and publicly washed . . .

It occurred to me that before I took a look at reaction to Ron Schiller's now-infamous lunch conversation, I should first report what the man said.  This was lifted from's constantly updated blog, two-way, which covers breaking news.:

Ron Schiller, at THE lunch
NPR's soon-to-be-departing senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller is seen and heard on a videotape released this morning telling two men who were posing as members of a fictitious Muslim Education Action Center Trust that: 
— "The Tea Party is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian 
— I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of move." 
— "Tea Party people" aren't "just Islamaphobic, 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." 
— "I think what we all believe is if we don't have Muslim voices in our schools, on the air ... it's the same thing we faced as a nation when we didn't have female voices." In the heavily edited tape, that comment followed Schiller being told by one of the men that their organization "was originally founded by a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America." There's no sign in the edited tape that Schiller reacted in any way after being told of the group's alleged connection to an Islamic group that appeared to be connected with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. 
— That NPR "would be better off in the long run without federal funding," a position in direct conflict with the organization's official position. 
Schiller is also heard laughing when one of the men jokes that NPR should be known as "National Palestinian Radio."
There was also a David Folkenflik story last night on  All Things Considered, and Larry Abramson reports about it today on Morning Edition. NPR has pledged to cover continue following  developments.

Early last evening, Slate reported:
NPR has released more statements. First, Schiller walks the plank and says he resigned.
While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR’s values and also not reflective of my own beliefs. I offer my sincere apology to those I offended. I resigned from NPR, previously effective May 6th, to accept another job. In an effort to put this unfortunate matter behind us, NPR and I have agreed that my resignation is effective today
Next, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller -- no relation -- tries to wrap a bow around this.
Ron Schiller’s remarks are contrary to what NPR stands for and deeply distressing to reporters, editors and others who bring fairness, civility and respect for a wide variety of viewpoints to their work every day.
So here are a sprinkling of conservative reactions to the "Mr. Schilller Does Lunch" video  . . .

Cybercast News Service (CSN, founded as Conservative News Service) reports this reaction from Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group:
Leo Brent Bozell III
“NPR hates Middle America, plain and simple,” said Bozell in his statement.  “This week’s utterances from NPR officials underline that these taxpayer-funded bureaucrats loathe most of the taxpayers who feather their comfortable nest. Their contempt for ‘scary’ Middle Americans belies their ridiculous claims of concern for rural stations and their absurd declaration that somehow NPR is the epitome of fairness and balance.”
No wonder the radical left-wing billionaire George Soros has funneled $1.8 million into NPR,” said Bozell.  “They are doing his bidding and calling it ‘news.’”
Rush Limbaugh played the tape of Mr. Shiller's lunch conversation live on his radio program yesterday, sprinkling in such comments as
Rush Limbaugh
"... this guy Schiller is not a leader of anything.  He's a coward.  He's an effeminate little waif sitting up there waxing eloquent about how woe is the country because not everybody is as smart as he is -- while he's being duped! He's in the middle of being duped here by a couple of people who have set him up royally. ..." 
"...That is what's gonna come back and bite his tiny little geisha ah -- uh, butt.  We'd be better off without federal funding.  Ha! Now, he's out there admitting it, but his excuse will be, "Well, look, I'm trying to separate $5 million from these guys."  Of course I'm gonna tell 'em -- but this, behind closed doors, this is what's gonna gnaw at this guy's geisha butt, I guarantee you.  You're listening here to the intellectual Ron Schiller. ..."
Fox News reported that:
Jenny Beth Martin
The Tea Party Patriots slammed NPR for the Schiller comments Tuesday, calling on Congress to de-fund the radio network in light of the remarks.  
"Mr. Schiller's latest comments provoke a larger question -- how long will we as a nation be willing to tolerate the arrogance of the self-appointed ruling elite?" Tea Party Patriots coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement. 
Talking Points Memo, TPM, ("commentary on political events from a politically left perspective, by Joshua Micah Marshall") reported in its story,  "Tea Party Patriots Rally Against NPR," that:

In addition to his comments on the Tea Party, Schiller is shown in the video saying that NPR does not need federal funding, which the Patriots argue demonstrates that House Republican efforts to cut the news organization's funds are on the mark.
"Mr. Schiller himself candidly admits in the video that NPR doesn't need federal funding, and welcomes the opportunity to slant their reporting without the oversight of the taxpayer," Mark Meckler, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots wrote in an e-mail to supporters today. "At a time when the country is upside down by more than a trillion dollars, can we really afford to provide huge subsidies to entities that openly state that they don't need the money? Let's take his advice and pass legislation that would defund the clearly biased news organization that is out of touch with Americans across the country."

The House, as I'm sure you're aware, recently passed a billthat would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is a major source of funding for NPR affiliates such as WMRA. Without its network of affiliates broadcasting its programs, NPR would struggle to survive.

However, after googling "reaction Ron Shilller NPR," I was surprised to find that while the story of Mr. Schiller's lunch was everywhere, reaction to it was mostly confined to those who, like Mr. Limbaugh, react for a living.

To me this means that those who would defund NPR are contented to sit quietly and let NPR make their case for them. Right  now, NPR's current worst enemy appears to be its own management.

The public's reaction to the straight reporting of Mr. Schiller's lunch makes a pretty good case for this view of the situation.

This was posted by imkingdad on CNS:

If you've seen the video there is no way one can justify another dime of Taxpayer Money to these Left-wing criminals at PBS & NPR. 
About as Anti-American a bunch of folks as you'll ever find outside of a CPUSA meeting.

And this came from New York Times reader TomFl,
"I like NPR.  
After the Williams /Fox incident, how could an NPR executive be so dumb?  
Unbelievable. Another self inflicted wound." 
Your thoughts?

*link leads to an article posted this morning in The Atlantic on the same subject as this blog. 


  1. Tom DuVal, WMRA General ManagerMarch 9, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    As reprehensible as Ron Schiller's comments were, there is one misquotation: He clearly says, "I think what you all believe..." rather than "...what we all believe...."

    Regardless, in total the comments made by Schiller are contrary to everything NPR and WMRA stand for. Public Radio's programming strives every day to represent a rich diversity of views...with respectfulness and civility. Our mission is to foster community problem-solving, not to create divides based on politics, religion, race, education or any other criteria. Our role is to create a forum where everyone can come together to discuss and to learn. Mr. Schiller's comments do not represent the values or ethics of NPR, WMRA or the hundreds of public radio stations around the country.

  2. Sounds like yet another witch hunt to me. Of course, an executive working in an atmosphere surrounded by stings and witch hunts must need to be careful of what he/she tells anyone, anywhere, but it's sad when the witch-hunters win by such tactics (as Vivian Schiller's resignation seems to indicate) and are not even called down for it. Not good for the state of public discourse.

  3. I agree with Tom's assessment, particularly his statement that of the goal "to foster community problem-solving." Locally and face-to-face this can be done well. It seems, though, that under the cover of anonymity and en masse, all our sad and biased stripes begin to show. Knee-jerk reactions based on stereotypes from both sides — whether it's "Let's defund NPR! or Let's lock up all guns!" — lack the wisdom of thoughtful discussion. Perhaps on a local level we can promote that -- it sure isn't happening much in the larger, national public square.