The executive, Ron Schiller, president of the NPR Foundation and vice president for development, has apologized for his comments in a videotape disclosed Tuesday made by a right-wing political activist, James O’Keefe, in a sting operation. Ron Schiller, who was to take a position in May at the international nonprofit Aspen Institute, said his resignation scheduled for May 6 would take effect “immediately.”
Ron Schiller was heard making derogatory remarks about the Republican Party, Tea Party activists and the NPR commentator Juan Williams, who was fired after saying on Fox News that he would be concerned if he was on a plane with passengers in Muslim garb.
“I offer my sincere apology to those I offended,” Schiller said Tuesday night, adding that “In an effort to put this unfortunate matter behind us, NPR and I have agreed that my resignation is effective today.”
Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron Schiller) offered to resign “if that was the board’s will, and the board decided that it was,” Dave Edwards, the chairman of NPR’s board of directors, said Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
Vivien Schiller told the Times in an interview Wednesday that “I obviously had no prior knowledge” of the executive’s comments, “and nothing to do with them, and disavowed them as soon as I learned of them all. But I’m the CEO, and the buck stops here.”
Slate reported Wednesday that the Aspen Institute, where Ron Schiller was supposed to start next month as director of the Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program, released a statement saying that “Ron Schiller has informed us that, in light of the controversy surrounding his recent statements, he does not feel that it’s in the best interests of the Aspen Institute for him to come work here.”
In the video, Ron Schiller was meeting with two men posing as wealthy would-be Muslim donors who said they wanted to make a $5 million, no-strings-attached contribution, according to reports. The Muslim donors were discussing Jewish control of the media; Schiller added his sentiments saying that “Zionist influence” doesn’t exist at NPR, but “it’s there in those who own newspapers obviously.”
“No one owns NPR,” he adds.
Ron Schiller also is heard laughing when one of the men jokes that NPR should be known as “National Palestinian Radio.”
The incident has come to light as Republicans in Congress, who have long complained about a liberal bias on public radio, are targeting public broadcasting as an area for budget cuts.