Activist says he targeted NPR because of Juan Williams firing
Conservative activist and filmmaker James O'Keefe
March 8th, 2011
06:55 PM ET
3 years ago

Activist says he targeted NPR because of Juan Williams firing

(CNN) – UPDATE: National Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday, according to the organization's website. This comes the day after tape was released of an NPR senior executive slamming the tea party and saying NPR would be better off without federal funding.

The conservative activist responsible for producing an undercover video showing a National Public Radio senior executive slamming the Tea Party as "racist" and "scary" is speaking out about why he went after the organization.

Late Tuesday evening, the executive in question, Senior Vice President for Fundraising Ron Schiller, issued an apology and said that his already-announced resignation would be effective immediately, instead of in May as planned. Schiller had announced last week that he was leaving NPR for a job with the Aspen Institute.

Filmmaker James O'Keefe said the idea for the sting stemmed from an incident in October when NPR fired analyst Juan Williams after he said he got scared when people wore Muslim garb on airplanes.

"My colleague Shaughn Adeleye who posed as one of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood was pretty offended with what happened with Juan Williams and he suggested looking into NPR after that incident back in the fall," O'Keefe said to CNN Correspondent Brian Todd on Tuesday.

"My other colleague Simon Templar came up with the idea to have a Muslim angle since Juan Williams was fired due to his comments. So we decided to see if there was a greater truth or hidden truth amongst these reporters and journalists and executives."

Juan Williams has since been hired full-time by Fox News.

O'Keefe gained notoriety for posing as a pimp and secretly taping damaging conversations with employees at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN). He was also involved in a failed plot to embarrass a CNN correspondent on hidden cameras.

Schiller and another NPR executive are shown on the video having lunch with potential NPR donors, who were really working for O'Keefe undercover. In the video, they pose as representatives of a Muslim organization that is considering making a $5 million donation to NPR.

Late Tuesday evening, Schiller issued an apology through NPR.

"While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR's values and also not reflective of my own beliefs," Schiller said in a statement. "I offer my sincere apology to those I offended. I resigned from NPR, previously effective May 6th, to accept another job. In an effort to put this unfortunate matter behind us, NPR and I have agreed that my resignation is effective today."

Earlier, an NPR spokeswoman condemned Schiller's remarks.

"The comments contained in the video released today are contrary to everything we stand for, and we completely disavow the views expressed," said NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm. "NPR is fair and open minded about the people we cover. Our reporting reflects those values every single day – in the civility of our programming, the range of opinions we reflect and the diversity of stories we tell."

Rehm also decried Schiller's statement that NPR would be "better off without federal funding," in the statement – her second released since reports of the undercover video surfaced.

"The assertion that NPR and public radio stations would be better off without federal funding does not reflect reality. The elimination of federal funding would significantly damage public broadcasting as a whole," Rehm said.

– CNN's Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell contributed to this report.

soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    If truth and balanced news reporting is a goal, why not go after Fox News? It is the Republican version of Pravda, and only a totally dishonest person would pretend otherwise. Conservatives want balanced as long as the balance is completely weighted to the right.

    March 8, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  2. JohnOBX

    O'Keefe has been proven time and again to be a manufacturer of sleeze. The whole thing with Acorn was proven to be a scandal created by selective editing, but the networks buried THAT story on the back page. O'Keefe has zero credibility. Even though a CNN reporter was set up by him for an ambush interview, they provide coverage which automatically condemns the NPR executive.

    March 8, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. razorwire4u

    Filmmaker James O'Keefe? More like propagandist, hardly deserving of the title "filmmaker." Again and again, the conservatives will continue to march in lock step behind their paper leaders, their gossamer thin beliefs of the truth in tow. Schiller spoke only the truth. Keefe's team egged the NRP crew on with statements of "Jews" owning or running everything. How strange, a lie spun by Keefe that actaully illicited the truth from the entrapped Schiller.
    Back to selling shoes, Keefe. There is no 15 minutes of fame any longer. As of tommorow, you're yesterday.

    March 8, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  4. angryed

    More race card crap...both parties share the blame for this mountain of debt and wasted tax dollars...BOTH, the only ones who cant see that are partisans and part of the problem, the main point of the tea-party is not race....it is reckless govt spending...wake up and become part of the solution, toss the bums out in 2012

    March 8, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  5. thediceman

    So it's wrong to speak the truth now?!

    March 8, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Lee Oates

    James O'Keefe is a right-wing nut and a danger to any decent American. He is a wanna-be Michael Moore without morals, skills, or personality. I personally think that the Tea party members are very scary, generally lean towards Fascism, and most are very racist. For the most part its a group of old white people who can't adjust to the concept of racial equality.

    March 8, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. Dan

    This man is no activist... He just uses deceptively edited videos to do hatchet jobs on people, much like his previous videos...
    He's a well known racist and bigot, who's stated "black people shouldn't vote", and stated his admiration for the Nazi party.

    March 8, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. zax

    "Juan Williams has since been hired full-time by Fox News."
    LOL!!

    March 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  9. Scott from NH

    I would love to see George Soros hand NPR it's entire operating budget and then they can tell the Republicans to go to hell.

    March 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  10. Nathan

    Why do you not mention that O'Keefe's ACORN video was found to be heavily edited and wholly misleading? It's kind of relevant. Nothing he produces can be trusted.

    March 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. James

    Why is anyone taking James O'Keefe seriously? He has a long history of lying and distorting his videos. It has been documented he doctored the ACRON videos to take his victims words out of context and twisted their words. His failed plot with CNN should be enough to destroy what ever creditability he had.

    March 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  12. Tre

    Anyone who has listened to NPR even briefly, understands the liberal bias is real.. Listen to the context of the strategically placed words in every segment. "Alleged, So called, It has been said, etc".

    March 8, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. Rachelle

    Well, the Tea Party IS scary and racist. And, there is a BIG difference between calling a pig a pig, and saying you think the pig may be rabid. Too bad James O'Keefe doesn't know there's a difference.

    March 8, 2011 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    How can it be a "slam" when the comments are true?

    March 8, 2011 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. SB

    Bravo, Mr. O'Keefe. Now not only do you now get to inaccurately and unfairly link Schiller's personal beliefs to William's firing, but you get to claim that he's sympathetic to Muslims which the Republican base loathes. Get ready for history to repeat itself people. It's the "Red Scare" all over again. Witch hunts and accusations. McCarthy would be proud of activists like Mr. O'Keefe here.

    March 8, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  16. Sir Craig

    So...this guy saying the Tea Party is "racist" and "scary" is shocking why? Let's be honest: The Tea Partiers DO have quite the share of racists in their midst (just Google "tea party racists" and see all the pictures that pop up from their rallies), and showing up at rallies "exercising" their Second Amendment right to bear arms in the form of pistols and semi-automatic weapons certainly make them scary. So again, why is this a "sting"? The guy is merely telling the truth, and if the Tea Partiers can't handle that, tough.

    March 8, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. Lawrence

    What is really scary is that this O'Keefe character has gotten away with using bush-league tactics in his attempts to paint several organizations as biased, as opposed to those hidden behind the scenes who are financing his efforts (can you say Koch Brothers). NPR has ten times the credibility than Faux News ever will!

    March 8, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. mark

    we are a country of the moment. The future always produces more reason and science, therefore less religion. NPR will be fine, with or without tax dollars. Fox news however will not exist without the religious fear/hate mongers.

    March 8, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  19. charles bowen

    Many T party members are racist and or so old and delusional that they easily lead by anyone carring a banner of freedom and democracy no matter what it costs or who it hurts. They rail against entitlements and pick up their social security checks weather they need the money or not. Greed is there god and money owns their souls. Nothing Personal, just the Facts. Charles bowen Solomon Stone

    March 8, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Scot

    These type of tactics are typical of the republican adgenda. The VP should be told not to come back and unfortunatly NPR will be in the crosshairs even more, What a waste !

    March 8, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Nunofu Beeznez

    Okay, so you follow someone around and entrap them into stating their personal opinion and get them fired. This O'keefe guy is a douche-bag and a coward.

    March 8, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. Tom

    Ahoy there! Let's have sailboat nerd battle it out with iceman Assange who is equally just as big a nerd, and whoever wins decides the fate of the world. And let's use the political campaign money for something else.

    March 8, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. Bo Moreland

    After what this guy tried to pull on Abbie Boudreau, why does CNN even give him any space on their site? Spineless.

    March 8, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  24. Chris L.

    This is the same guy who illegally wiretapped a senator and tried to make an embarrassing video of a CNN reporter on his colleague's boat. Why should we listen to anything this slime ball has to say?

    March 8, 2011 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    With all of the these sneaks around, it is almost impossible to have a conversation w someone and share your personal views because these little sneaks will end up sharing it w the world.

    March 8, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8