NPR CEO Vivian Schiller "Ousted" Amid Political Fallout

Barely two years after she arrived, Vivian Schiller has resigned from her post as CEO of NPR. David Folkenflik, NPR's own media reporter, has gone on record  as saying she was "forced out" due to a series of political dustups: first the firing of conservative commentator Juan Williams, and most recently some anti-Tea Party (and funding) comments by Ron Schiller (no relation), then a fundraiser for NPR, caught on tape

What we're looking at, at least in the latter case, is a new kind of political dirty trick: the ACORN-ing  or Planned Parenthood-ing, this time of a major news organization. In all three cases, conservative activists concocted video stings featuring outlandish characters—pimps, in the case of Planned Parenthood and ACORN, and in the case of NPR, members of the Muslim Brotherhood—to manufacture scandals out of thin air. Anyone who's watched Borat knows that people sometimes have regrettable reactions when presented in social situations with utterly bizarre, off-the-wall behavior, but the man responsible has already stepped down. Are these gotcha comedy techniques really grounds to get rid of a media CEO with a keen eye for the future of digital media and a formula for reporting the news that actually seems to be financially successful?

[Image: Julian Dufort]


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  • Robert Sullivan

    Fact check:

    Juan Williams is not a conservative commentator

    The fundraiser mentioned was NPR admitting they had a pro-palestine/anti-Jew agenda in order to potetially recieve money from Muslims. (NPR did not take the donation)

    Investigative journalism has been around for a long, long time (60 Minutes, Dateline, The Jungle...) comparing it to Borat is pretty low.

  • Jay Jaso

    Writer Ana Kamenetz say's this is a "new kind of political trick" . . . how so? Miichael Moore does this ALL the time. But the difference for Ms. Kamenetz is that she sees M.M.'s reports as credible and true, so therefore it's new and shocking when it happens in an arena that she happens to support. At fault also are the Fast Company editors for having allowed this kind of misguided writing to make it through the portals. It is THIS free-flow subjective writing/thinking that conservatives very correctly point out as a blind spots in much of today's media. BTW ... I am not a conservative. But I do WANT dispassionate, objective reporting.

  • Bob Jacobson

    Slash and burn is a bit different from ridiculing someone in a movie. Too bad some readers can't make the distinction between outing a liar and lying to out someone.

  • Chris Harren this reporting or editorial? If it looks like, walks like, talks like and smells like editorial it should be labeled as such. This is seriously biased writing.

  • Doug Davis

    Fast Company--the tone of this article is shameful! Agenda, much? No one made Mr Schiller say those things, even if it was a creative ruse that put him in the situation. A previous commentor is right--it's no better or worse than anything Micheal Moore has ever concocted. What one says when one thinks no one is looking is typically what defines one's true character anyway, and such was clearly the case with Mr Schiller. For this piece to take such a one sided stance on this issue--and so clearly cheerlead for NPR and to defend Ms Schiller so clearly in the wake of her resignation--is an irresponsible and decietful way to report on this story.

  • Bryan Fuhr

    Is this really a partisan issue? Pranks of this nature fall on both sides of the aisles. Scott Walker posing as a Koch brother comes to mind.

  • kevin peterson

    "The firing of conservative commentator Juan Williams" ..... Conservative? Juan Williams? Not hardly! I personally thought his firing was bogus. Maybe if NPR did more to represent the conservative point of view in their programing, since it is "Public Radio", then maybe they wouldn't have so many problems with conservatives.

    I am not a conservative, I can't stand Fox News, but frankly I can sympathize with why they loath NPR. NPR presents an exclusively progressive point of view.

  • Sheena Medina

    Why did Vivian Schiller take the fall for something she didn't say? The real reason NPR has "so many problems with conservatives," is that they don't support discrimination against gay people and Muslims. They dismiss conspiracy theories regarding climate change and support scientific evidence. They believe that Obama is a US citizen. Since when has being factual become a "liberal" or "progressive" thing?

  • George Bush

    It seems you like the fact that NPR clearly comforts terrorist, Jihadist and Moslem Brotherhood who are trying to kill us. You demonstrate the classic Moslem victimhood when your community is doing most of the victimizing around the world. Be it Native Africans in Darfur, Copts in Egypt, Christians in Pakistan, Buddhist in Thailand ... on and on.

    Guess all these terrorists probably are Martians. Since when does stating facts become "racism" & "discriminatory" ?

  • Guest

    "...a new kind of political dirty trick." Really? Michael Moore built his career on this kind of investigative journalism years ago. And the governor of Wisconsin was recently punked by a pro-union reporter posing as one of the Koch brothers. I don't recall you criticizing or bemoaning either of those stings as "dirty tricks". Schiller simply got caught admitting some of the well-known, but never publicly acknowledged, inside truths about NPR.

  • thefarang

    As Mr. Campbell points out, NPR is a media organization. They make their living off of doing the same thing to other people. They shove a microphone in someone's face when they might not be in the best emotional position to deal with it. They have guest on their programs and ask them questions designed to shake them up and get a raw reaction. To say that doing this back to the head of a media organization should be expected. We should expect every media executive to be able to deal with the same pressure they make their money off of putting other people under.

    And, I'm not saying this because NPR is a, generally, liberal radio station. I think everyone who sticks a microphone in someone's face should be just as comfortable having a microphone stuck in their face. Maybe if more people in the media were put under the same scrutiny as the people they interview they would quit falling all over themselves to embarrass people so they can get advance their careers on the woes of others.

    Don't get me wrong. Sure, Watergate should be exposed. Real news should press hard on people and should dig for the facts. But do we really need to hear about some celebrity's eating habits or whether or not Donald Trump wears pajamas? That's what media has devolved into.

    So if they media wants to dish it out they should be willing to take it as well.

  • Joseph Mullin

    I agree with Scott and also would like to say that we need leaders that are ethical at all times not when it is convenient.
    If their comments are not in line with the mission and the values of the company they need to be gone.
    Are these people walking around in a bubble in their own world? With the smart phones and the internet you can be recorded anytime any where. Does this mean they have to have their guard up at all times? That would not be necessary if the stuck to their values and ethics at all times.
    Does Vivian Schiller really have leadership qualities or just good management skills?
    She now has time to reflect on her future.
    It will also be interesting to see how NPR will handle this damage control.

  • Scott Campbell

    Borat is not responsible for the words of these people, they are. How can they be media professionals without knowing that everyone now has the capability of producing their own media? They should speak professionally at all times. I'm glad they were outed then ousted. If this is truly what they believe and they cannot control themselves in all situations they need to be gone. Also, why are these techniques "gotcha comedy"? Is finding the truth so funny? Undercover techniques are used all the time but I guess it's not so cool when one of your favorites gets caught.