US & World

In Video: NPR Exec Slams Tea Party, Questions Need For Federal Funds

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NCinDC/Flickr (cc by_nc_nd)

Political activist James O'Keefe's latest undercover project took aim at NPR. Outgoing fundraising executive Ron Schiller was taped without his knowledge.

NPR's then-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 Action Education Center 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."

NPR, as you'll see below, has called Schiller's comments appalling.

The video comes from Project Veritas, and is another in political activist James O'Keefe's undercover exposes (he most prominently took on ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). In the video, Schiller and NPR institutional giving director Betsy Liley are at lunch in Washington with two Project Veritas "investigative reporters" identified as Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar, who posed as "Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik." They were allegedly interested in having their organization donate $5 million to NPR. O'Keefe's organization says the recording was made on Feb. 22.

The edited video is a little more than 11 minutes long. Project Veritas has posted the two-hour uncut version here (update at 11:50 a.m. ET: you no longer need a Vimeo Plus account to view it).

Schiller (no relation to NPR CEO Vivian Schiller), announced last week that he is leaving NPR to become director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. In his position at NPR, Schiller was not involved in editorial decisions.

Dana Davis Rehm, NPR's senior vice president of marketing, communications and external relations, has released this statement:

"The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept.

"We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.

"Mr. Schiller announced last week that he is leaving NPR for another job."

Our colleague David Folkenflik is pursuing comments from Schiller, O'Keefe and other parties to the story. We will be updating as the story develops.

Daily Caller was among the first to report on this.

Update at 11:35 a.m. ET. David Folkenflik has filed his first report on this for the NPR Newcast. His report was introduced with this lead-in:

"NPR's chief fundraising executive, Ron Schiller, was caught on tape criticizing conservatives and saying NPR would be better off without federal financial support. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, his remarks were captured as part of a video sting at a time when NPR is under public assault."

Then David followed with this:

"Today's tapes, produced by the conservative political activist James O'Keefe, show Schiller and NPR fundraiser Betsy Liley talking with two men over lunch in late February at an upscale Washington cafe.

"Schiller said the federal funding was vital for local member stations.

"The men present themselves as representing a Muslim organization and appear to be critical of what they said was Zionist influence in the media.

"NPR called Schiller's remarks appalling, but in a statement said, quote, 'The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept.'

"Ron Schiller announced just last week that he was leaving NPR after 18 months for a job with the Aspen Institute close to his Colorado home."

Update at 11:12 a.m. ET: NPR's Dana Davis Rehm has told members stations that "there is no connection between the video and [Ron Schiller's] decision to leave NPR." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit