NPR CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned following Tuesday's undercover video showing NPR vice president Ron Schiller calling out Tea Party members as "racist" and "scary." The prank by conservative activist James O'Keefe has touched off a firestorm of conservative ire that recalled the organization's ill-conceived Juan Williams firing last fall.
The resignation of Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, was announced in a statement by NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards. "The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years." NPR's media reporter David Folkenflik said on the network's Morning Editon, "I'm told by my sources that she was forced out."
Both the Juan Williams firing and the Ron Schiller incidents occurred on Vivian Schiller's watch. Since his ouster Williams has becoming something of a symbol for those who've come dislike NPR's "elitist" asethetic. On Hannity last night, he gladly sniped at his former employer describing the offending executive's actions as elitist, "condescending," "rude," and hypocritical. "He [Shiller] thinks we lack education and only his group up there, on the executive floor of NPR really understands," Williams added, a populist sentiment that the talking-point loving Sean Hannity would heartily agree with.
If the efforts to defund NPR were already progressing since last fall, this latest O'Keefe episode has only reignited conservative fervor. Last week, Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint introduced a Senate bill aimed at defunding NPR and PBS, and it wasn't drawing that much attention. That won't be a problem anymore. Yesterday, in response to the prank, The Atlantic's Chris Good noted that the Tea Party Patriots--the largest national Tea Party organization--circulated an indignant email about the O'Keefe incident. "How long will we as a nation be willing to tolerate the arrogance of the self-appointed ruling elite?" rhetorically asked Jenny Beth Martin, TPP national coordinator.