The resignation comes at a dicey time for NPR. On Tuesday, a video featuring former NPR executive Ron Schiller (no relation) came to light. In the video, the work of conservative activist James O'Keefe, Schiller is heard demeaning tea party supporters as racists and "gun-toting" Christian fundamentalists who had "hijacked" the Republican Party. Schiller also said that NPR would be "better off in the long run" without federal support.Well, this seems to call for fair, one-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand sort of commentary, so here goes. On the one hand, whoever says the Tea Party includes among its supporters a fair number of racists, toters of guns, and fundamentalists (suitably defined, I suppose) is speaking the truth. Such a statement has all the usual shortcomings of any generalization, and certainly does not apply to every individual Partier, but there it is.
Vivian Schiller had already taken significant heat for NPR's dismissal of commentator Juan Williams last fall, after Williams confessed to apprehension when seeing Muslims on airplanes. Williams' ouster became a cause célèbre for conservatives — and helped spark the O'Keefe project. NPR's top news executive, Ellen Weiss, resigned in January as a result.
On the other hand, it is delicious to see a few high-ranking smugistas at NPR fall afoul of the unanimously-accepted American Law of the Gaffe: some things simply cannot be said, and truth is no defense. Live by the sword of prissiness, die by the same. Gotcha!