Republicans said Wednesday that the resignation of NPR’s top executive in the wake of an undercover video sting will not blunt their determination to cut off all taxpayer funds for public broadcasting.
NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller was ousted a day after the release of the video, which captured NPR’s senior fundraising executive denigrating tea party activists as racists and saying the organization would be better off in the long run without taxpayer subsidies.
But NPR’s critics remained in full pursuit.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said the resignation of “one person at NPR” would not deter cost-conscious Republicans who are intent on cutting millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. President Obama has requested $451 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NPR’s parent company, for fiscal 2012, even as House Republicans have voted to slash all funding for public broadcasting for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, the Colorado Republican who has led House efforts to eliminate federal funding, said Mrs. Schiller’s resignation only “strengthens his resolve” to eliminate all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Mrs. Schiller said she did not want to leave but concluded that staying on would only hurt the prospects for stations that air NPR programming.
“It would have made it too difficult for stations to face that funding threat in Congress without this change,” she said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The collateral damage from the tape, covertly recorded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, was piling up Wednesday. Ron Schiller, the former NPR executive caught on the tape and no relation to Mrs. Schiller, has decided not to accept a position at the nonpartisan Aspen Institute “in light of the controversy surrounding his recent statements.”
The argument against public funding for NPR has been fueled in part by revelations of the salaries of some top public radio executives. According to Internal Revenue Service records, Kevin Klose made more than $800,000 a year as NPR president before he left in 2009.
“I have been seeking to push Big Bird out of the nest for over a year, based on the simple fact that we can no longer afford to spend taxpayer dollars on nonessential government programs,” Mr. Lamborn said.
NPR’s public shaming may not be over.
Mr. O’Keefe, the conservative journalist who orchestrated the damning video of Mr. Schiller, told The Washington Times that he had more footage. Asked whether the NPR sting or a similar 2008 video expose of ACORN, the liberal housing activist group, had more effect on the public debate, Mr. O’Keefe, 26, gave a telling reply: “The answer may become clear when all our tapes are released.”
NPR supporters were mobilizing with the Obama administration to protect public broadcasting funds, despite the controversy. They said Mr. Obama still supports government funding.
“In an era where tough choices have to be made, including the ones this president laid out in his proposed 2012 budget, there remains a need to support public broadcasting and NPR,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at Wednesday’s briefing.
NPR gets only about 2 percent of its revenue directly from the federal government. Government funding accounts for about 10 percent of the budgets of its member stations, which also rely on contributions from listeners and viewers.