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NPR President, CEO Resigns

Tumult occurs as public broadcasting fights federal de-funding efforts

NPR/CEO Vivian Schiller resigned this morning. The network reported that the action came after the board decided she could no longer be effective.

Her departure comes a day after Ron Schiller (no relation), a top NPR fundraiser, was shown on videotape criticizing the GOP and tea-party and questioning if NPR really needs federal funds to two men posing as members of an Islamic civic group. Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe released the tape. Ron Schiller resigned earlier.

“The board accepted Vivian’s resignation with understanding, genuine regret and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” said NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards in a statement. According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the NPR board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of legal affairs and general counsel, becomes interim CEO.

Vivian Schiller immediately sought to refute Ron Schiller’s taped comments.

The personnel drama at NPR occurs as public broadcasting fights an effort by conservative lawmakers to zero out its federal funding. That in turn followed dismissal of commentator Juan Williams in a widely publicized case last fall.

The Associated Press reported that Schiller told them she resigned, but it also reported that NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik wrote in a tweet that Schiller had been forced out. In response, Edwards, the chairman, told reporters, “The CEO of any organization is accountable for all of the operations of that organization,” and that even though Schiller wasn’t personally responsible for all the mistakes made in recent months, “we determined that it was the wise move for us to accept her resignation and move on,” the network reported.

The action comes two days after Schiller appeared at the National Press Club to press the case that Congress should continue to provide funding for public broadcasting. Bills to de-fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have been introduced in the House and the Senate.

The Media Research Center sent a letter to members of Congress today saying Schiller’s resignation “doesn’t change a thing.” The organization, headed by Brent Bozell, wrote of NPR: “They are still a radical left-wing toy for the likes of George Soros and they still don’t deserve a dime of taxpayer funding. A government that is broke should not be in the business of funding a left-wing playground.”

Schiller joined NPR in January 2009 from, where she was senior vice president and general manager.

The board will establish an “Executive Transition Committee” to develop a timeframe and process to recruit and select a new president/CEO.

— Leslie Stimson