Ex-NPR exec cedes new role at Aspen Institute

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMarch 9, 2011
As it turns out, Ron Schiller won't be working for the Aspen Institute after all.

After falling victim to a right-wing prankster who recorded him making inflammatory statements, Schiller accelerated his previously planned resignation and immediately stepped down as the chief fundraiser for National Public Radio.

A day after the sting video was released, Schiller is now giving up his next job too.

“Ron Schiller has informed us that, in light of the controversy surrounding his recent statements, he does not feel that it’s in the best interests of the Aspen Institute for him to come work here,” the Aspen Institute's top spokesman, Jim Spiegelman, wrote in a statement e-mailed to Real Aspen and other media outlets this morning.

A press release that last week announced Schiller would on April 1 become the new director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence Program was taken down from the Aspen Institute's website as well. The release had included high praise for Schiller from some of the Aspen Institute's most prominent leaders who said he “embraces and lives the values that we share as a community." Schiller has lived in Aspen since 2006.
Ron Schiller



Many residents in left-leaning Aspen might not blink an eye over Schiller's remark that the Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party, which he claimed are “seriously racist, racist people.” But the statement is in direct conflict with the Aspen Institute press release that stated how Schiller would integrate arts and artists into the institute's “fertile nonpartisan and interdisciplinary foundations.”

In the video, staged by notorious provocateur James O'Keefe, Schiller and another NPR executive had lunch in Washington D.C. with a fictitious group that claimed to have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood in America. The fictitious group, which called itself the Muslim Education Action Center Trust, claimed it donated money to American schools. At the luncheon, the group offered $5 million to NPR.

When O'Keefe's operatives disparaged Jewish control of the media, Schiller denied there was any such influence at NPR but stated "it's there in those who own newspapers obviously." Schiller and the other executive, Betsy Liley, laughed when one of the men joked that NPR had earned the nickname “National Palestinian Radio” for its Middle East coverage. “That's good. I like that,” Liley chuckled.

In the video, Schiller made clear that some of his statements were personal feelings and not reflective of NPR, including his comment that in America “the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large uneducated part of the population.” Last night, however, he said his remarks were not reflective of his own beliefs.

He also rankled his colleagues by saying NPR would “in the long run ... be better off without federal funding” and that “NPR would definitely survive and most of the stations would survive” without it.

NPR's official line is that it needs the money. Dubbed “the war on Big Bird,” several Republicans in Congress have been proposing to cut federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which bankrolls PBS, NPR and their affiliate stations. Tens of millions of dollars are at stake and NPR has testified the money is desperately needed.

NPR called Schiller's secretly recorded statements “appalling.”

This morning the public radio organization’s board additionally accepted the resignation of its chief executive, Vivian Schiller, who NPR said had become too distracted by the Ron Schiller mess as well as the one with Juan Williams, who was recently sacked after saying he was scared of people in Muslim garb on airplanes.
Vivian Schiller



"The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards said in a statement. "Vivian brought vision and energy to this organization. She led NPR back from the enormous economic challenges of the previous two years. She was passionately committed to NPR's mission, and to stations and NPR working collaboratively as a local-national news network. According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the Board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO. The Board will immediately establish an Executive Transition Committee that will develop a timeframe and process for the recruitment and selection of new leadership. I recognize the magnitude of this news – and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community. The Board is committed to supporting NPR through this interim period and has confidence in NPR's leadership team."

Vivian and Ron Schiller are not related.

The Aspen Institute has not announced who will replace Ron Schiller. The institute has had only one previous arts director, Dana Gioia, who is leaving to serve on the faculty at the University of Southern California.


comments: 1 Comment on "Ex-NPR exec cedes new role at Aspen Institute"

youmustbekidding – March 09, 2011, at 11:23 a.m.

Just proves how slanted and partial the Aspen Institute has become.
Glad he resigned maybe the Institute should take a long look at their priorities .
like everything else in Aspen the left is ruining our town.

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