TYRRELL: National Public Radical

NPR executive loses his head and job

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It is a bloodbath over at NPR. First this pinhead, Ron Schiller, resigns after initially being defended by NPR, then by the end of the day Tuesday, he’s given the shuffalo to Buffalo. Then Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, resigns the next day as chief executive officer and president of NPR. Ron Schiller was caught on tape saying NPR did not need its subsidy from the federal government to survive, but I guess the board of directors of NPR is taking no chances. Off with both of the Schillers’ heads.

Actually, NPR and its affiliates are among the most overstaffed and extravagant operations in media. In the 1990s, when I did “The Editors,” a television show from Montreal that appeared on public TV stations, the Montreal production company did the show for a fraction of what public television paid. (Because of my presence, one had to be an insomniac to catch the show in Washington on WETA, a lamentable situation insisted on by Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president of WETA and a Public Broadcasting Service board member). I believe a Washington production would have outspent us 10-to-1. National Public Radio is no different. Mr. Schiller, the fired NPR fundraiser, said they would survive the cuts and doubtless they could. I say cut their subsidy. They have been in more scandals of late than Charlie Sheen. Off with all their heads.

Mr. Schiller was taped surreptitiously in Georgetown’s Cafe Mi lano talking, he thought, with Muslim Brotherhood allies. Apparently, by his lights, the Brotherhood is a group of sophisticates and so he divulged his urbane views of the world. Caught on tape were his views of the Tea Party: “The Tea Party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and [is] very fundamental Christian - I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of movement.” In truth, the Tea Party movement is interested in budgetary issues pre-eminently.

After his Muslim Brotherhood interlocutor, goading him, said, “The radical, racist, Islamophobic, Tea Party people?” Mr. Schiller proceeds. “And not just Islamophobic 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.” All of this Mr. Schiller says to indict the Republican Party: “The current Repub lican Party is not really the Republican Party,” says Mr. Schiller. “It’s been hijacked by this group.” He is speaking of the Tea Party.

Rather oddly, none of the commentary I read this week caught Mr. Schiller’s low estimate of America as a whole. Quite hilariously, one of his new friends in the Muslim Brotherhood baited him: “And so what is your opinion of that whole situation that is going on in Egypt?” To which Mr. Schiller responded, insanely, “I guess I am most disturbed by and disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite, in this country is too small a percentage of the population so that you have this very huge uneducated part of the population that carries these ideas. It is much more about anti-intellectualism than it is about politics.” America in this poor sap’s imagination is Egypt or maybe Iran.

It is not clear to me where Mr. Schiller got such a high opinion of his own intellect. Certainly the two fun-loving guys who played the roles of members of the Muslim Brotherhood made him look the fool on this tape. They were working for conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, whose sting of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) put that group of hustlers out of business. Now he bids with his NPR sting to put it, if not out of business, at least off the public payroll. Yet where did Mr. Schiller get the idea that he was so sophisticated and free of prejudice? Elsewhere in his conversation with the phony Muslims, one of the brothers starts talking about Zionist control of our media. Now let us see, Mr. Schiller thinks he is talking to Muslim fundamentalists and they start talking about Zionist control of the media and he does not even object, much less leave the table. Mr. Schiller is not only stupid, he is a bigot too.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is “After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery” (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

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