Ron Schiller is/was the senior vice president for fundraising at NPR. (He is leaving very soon, and maybe now even sooner, for an arts funding job in Colorado, according to the NPR website.) Recently, he and a colleague were invited to lunch by a conservative activist, James O’Keefe, and his Project Veritas group–basically the right’s answer to the Yes Men–posing as the leader of a muslim charitable foundation interested in donating five million dollars to NPR. The lunch was secretly recorded, Ron Schiller said a bunch of things that he believed in, and now he is basically getting fired. Sure. That seems to be happening a lot lately! Everybody shut your mouths! But let’s look at some of the things that he said:

“The Tea Party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian — I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move.”

“Tea Party people” aren’t “just Islamaphobic, 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.”

Uh, both of those things are true? And so are most of the other things that Ron Schiller says in the video, which is posted after the jump:

Now, there are two sticking points that I see as being the real issues here:

1. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge or make any connection between who these men say they represent and the Muslim Brotherhood. (The Muslim Brotherhood preaches non-violence, but its main interest is establishing Muslim states. They’re one of the driving forces in the Egyptian revolution of the past couple months.) I think the main issue here is not so much vilifying the Muslim Brotherhood–although I am sure that is a goal of a Tea Party activist pulling off hidden camera long-cons–as it is that NPR needs to be careful who they take five million dollars from, and Ron Schiller should have done his due diligence better. OK.

2. Even more important, it would seem, is that Ron Schiller argues that NPR would be better off without federal funding! This is probably the least inflammatory and “controversial” of all his statements, but it certainly goes against NPR’s official position, and as such presents some real PR problems for a beleaguered organization whose funding process creates constant headaches and protracted culture-war flare-ups.

Other than that, uh, whatever? Like, the video makes a big deal out of the fact that the people from NPR were offered a limo to drive them to lunch and they accepted the limo. Really? That’s a thing? Because I will tell you this right now: I will accept ANY and EVERY limo that is offered to me, I don’t care who is providing the limo. “Oh really, Gabe? What if Hitler paid for the limo?” Yup. I’d take it. I’d tell the driver that we were making a brief detour before stopping at the restaurant (to which I am assuming Hilter has invited me) to take me to my TIME MACHINE. But everything that he says about the need for Muslim voices and how the spirit of anti-intellectualism in America, led by the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party in particular is very dangerous, all of those things are just straight up TRUE.

Even the NPR article about this “scandal” suggests that there is something untoward about how Ron Schiller laughs when one of the men jokes about calling NPR “National Palestinian Radio” just seems like such a non-starter. His job is to be a FUNDRAISER. That job is all about MAKING PEOPLE FEEL COMFORTABLE AND HAPPY. It was kind of a shitty joke? And I don’t think he even gets it? Did you guys read that article about laughter as social contract for the perceived power structure? I mean, come on now.

I’m not saying that Ron Schiller shouldn’t move on in his career. I don’t really care? This doesn’t seem to be one of the foundational crises of NPR’s and/or journalism’s and/or America’s future. Whatever. But can we please just for once stop pretending like we need to be deferential and respectful and give equal time to a loose-knit organization that AT BEST has some VERY flawed concepts about the tax code and at worst is just a nightmare collection of unfocused racists looking to get their hate juice all over EVERYTHING? Also, you guys, from now on: don’t trust go to lunch in a limo with ANYONE! Even Hitler is probably up to no good. And if you do go to lunch in a limo with Hitler, check all of the teddy bears for hidden cameras.

Comments (92)
  1. I’d check that math, Gabe. if Hitler sent you a limo, then he most likely already has a time machine. And I believe that Time Travelling Nazis fall just below Vampire/Zombie Nazis and above Killer Robot Nazis on the top-ten scariest sci-fi Nazi concepts list.

  2. Guuurrrrrghhhhhhh. It’s getting to the point now where I feel like the Tea Party just wants to rot America from the inside until everyone is a backwards, frustrated, stupid and afraid as they are.

    • I believe their take on it is that you’d have to be stupid not to be afraid.

      Because they’re too stupid and afraid to see that fearful and stupid is no way to go through life.

    • Tea Partiers are all ” We can say offensive things! Freedom of speech, you fool! ” and then here they are, saying it’s outrageous and scandalous that some fundraiser is ”caught” expressing different views then theirs on a hidden videotape…

      First of all, Schiller is not a journalist, but a guy paid to raise money for NPR. I think he is entitled to his own opinions, and I also think he spends most of his time adapting his discourse to the people he speaks with, because that is sort of his job. Also, it is worth noting that he does not agree to the money on tape. Because the amount is large, he discusses things with them for 2 hours, but at the end of the day, there is no proof that he would have accepted the offer.

  3. From the Daily Dish:

    I realize there are socioeconomic factors that play into this, but the xenophobes of Tea Party country don’t seem terribly interested in the world outside their particular patch of Earth.

    • Yeah, I bet every single person with a passport goes to immerse themselves in an entirely new culture and not to fucking stick their feet in the sand at a Sandals resort.

      • You both make valid points. Why so angry?

        • Because two completely independent variables do not a conclusion make.

          • Would a third help

          • Southerners who could change things seem to move away after high school. I guarantee you most of the kids in advanced high school math in Alabama won’t end up living in Alabama.

          • Perhaps a map of “High School Graduation Rates” or “Dentists Per Capita” would help convince you that many Southern states are filled with sad nightmare people

          • I live in Alabama (and have a passport! which I’ve used!), and electric hombre makes a good point. Outside of the few big cities, a lot of people just end up leaving. I left, came back, want to make a difference, but will probably end up leaving again (and soon). It’s tough. I know a lot of amazing people in this area, and a lot (a lot!!) of people who aren’t ignorant and who aren’t racist, but when you’re confronted with so many people who are, it’s a hard thing to overcome.

    • i have been to EPCOT so i think i know a thing or two about international travel. and the future.

      • One time, when i was in France (at EPCOT), I asked for a tirimisu in the bakery. They got really offended and pointed me in the direction of Italy (at EPCOT) That is all.

    • Do they have any stats on how many people think a percent sign goes before a number instead of after it? Because that’s the part of the population I’m more worried about.

    • I’m not sure how much stock can be put into graphic statistical representation as proof of a greater claim of xenophobia (unless it’s a graphic statistical representation of xenophobes by state), but I will say that I do love graphically represented statistics! However, the anomaly in this case is that Arizona appears to be a worldly and well-travelled people…. and speaking from my experience of living in that god-forsaken place over the past 6 months, worldly and well-travelled would be about the last words I’d use to describe the people of AZ. I have never been to a more hateful, racist, gun-crazy (and I mean crazy–as in, you don’t need a license or certification to carry a concealed weapon on your person-crazy, because FREEDOM!), red, tea party-friendly place in my life. So now, I’m moving back to Madison, WI, where they understand the value of progressive thinking and workers’ righ—oh…right… never mind. sadface.

  4. I don’t necessarily think the tea party is racist. I think the people in the tea party are, but I also think a lot of that is due to negative portrayal by the media. Sure, when it started out, there were some outspoken members who were racist, but there were also a lot that weren’t. But boring people don’t get media attention, so the focus all went to the crazy racists. Then other crazy racists see that as representative of the tea party, and it aligns with their kind of crazy, so they join up, because what are you going to do, NOT side with the people who share your bigoted point of view? I’m not saying I agree with the beliefs and opinions of the tea partygoers, but I DO think their cause was probably maligned by a lot of negative coverage that they didn’t necessarily deserve as a whole.

    • fucking liberal media! they hate the tea party! straight scoop!

    • p.s. the notion of a liberal media is a myth.

      • Wait, what? Are you really saying that there are no liberal media outlets? Liberal bias in media is every bit as real as conservative bias. Which way they skew depends on where you’re getting your news from, but most of them ARE biased, one way or another.

        • not fox! they’re fair and balanced!

        • I believe that the majority of the media is conservative-controlled. Not entirely, but a large portion. And certainly the most successful news media outlets are conservative-leaning. So, yes, I agree to an extent that the folks at Fox News (the most successful news station in the country) who complain about “the liberal media” are kind of forgetting that they run shit. I’ve certainly seen some left-leaning news coverage on TV, but not too many other people saw it if you catch my drift.

    • SOMEBODY has been watching The Good Wife.

    • But the ideals of a group at the outset don’t outweigh the actions and opinions of the group in the present.

      I’m sure the KKK was founded as a way to preserve white European heritage in a time of racial integration after the fall of slavery, but there was probably a moment when a founding member found himself looking for a sturdy tree to hang a rope from and realized that perhaps the group had strayed from its principles a bit.

      • Fair enough, but it’s a new enough group that there are probably still plenty of members who AREN’T racist, and it’s not fair to label the entire group.

        • For sure, and I think the automatic cry of ‘racist’ undermines the entire progressive movement because it oversimplifies conservative objections to policies which they may genuinely disagree with.

          That being said, the problem with the tea party is that they have aligned themselves with the founders of the country and are effectively trying to re-write history in saying that what Thomas Jefferson really wanted was mandatory school prayer time and a 100 foot concrete wall around the country.

        • I agree with Facetaco to an extent here. The problem with the Tea Party is that it doesn’t really exist in a formal sense. There’s no REAL leadership, just poster boys and girls that do nothing to try and downplay the racial undertones of the group because they don’t want to risk offending their base.

          I think it might be a generalization to call the whole group racist, but man oh man, a LOT of them are. A racist is more likely to be a member of the tea party than a Democrat or a Republican, is what I’m saying.

          Also, there were probably plenty of Nazi’s who weren’t racist.

      • I wish I hadn’t gotten to this party so late, BUT… has everyone forgotten the tea party rally in Yorba Linda, reported on this very site, where horrifyingly racist things were said to Muslim women and children? Fucking SENATORS (!) were at that rally. C’mon, people. Whether tea party-goers self-identify as racist or not, their ideology is based on an implicitly racist self-other dialectic, and I don’t think that can be argued.

    • Really? It’s just a coincidence that the Tea Party coalesced almost immediately upon the election of a black president? All that rhetoric about taking their country back wasn’t about the idea that the “other” had somehow gotten control of it?

      If this shit were about budget deficits and rampant government spending, the Tea Party would’ve been around when Bush was president. But they weren’t. Why? Because they’re fucking racists.

      • You know it’s possible to like Bush and dislike Obama without being racist, right?

        • I guess you could read my comment that way if you were ignoring the part about how they’re protesting the EXACT SAME THINGS that existed under Bush, and which he actually excerbated greatly.

          It’s not like this Tea Party stuff started when Obama implemented some odious new policy. It started right away. Like, during the inauguration when Obama/Justice Roberts flubbed some lines in the oath. Immediately there was a storm of bullshit about him not really being the president because of it. And this shit hasn’t let up since.

          My point is that they didn’t give a shit about it until they had an appropriate villain. One who wasn’t a Bible thumping good ‘ol boy. Hence, my conclusion that they are racists. Not necessarily the kind who tell racist jokes, just they kind who enjoy a good one when no black people are around.

          • I love our political debates around here. “I’m a liberal!” “No, I’m a liberal!” “Noooooo, I’m a liberal!!!”

          • I wish in real life, everyone had little THUMPS UP or THUMBS DOWN beside them, so I could just express my viewpoint with a click rather than cowering/shouting/crying.

          • You wish that everybody had something beside them that would enable them to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down sign?

            Q: What has two thumbs and doesn’t know how to use them?
            A: Um I don’t actually know how to answer that.

        • Yes, it is possible. But it is NOT possible to dislike Obama because of government spending and running a large budget deficit and like Bush, because BUSH DID MORE OF THAT THAN OBAMA IS DOING. Therefore, you must like Bush and dislike Obama for another reason, maybe because you have a reflexive hatred and mistrust of Democrats/liberals that is based on nothing except a myopic worldview that sets Democrats as “bad” and Republicans as “good” because that is how you were raised and you believe it unconditionally without examining why or what you are actually supporting. So when someone says government spending and deficits are bad, you believe it and agree with them regardless of the fact that they are only saying it because of the myopic worldview previously described.

          Or maybe because you have a reflexive hatred and mistrust of people who are not white. Because you are racist.

          • Note: “you” is the rhetorical “you” and not you, facetaco. Hearts!

          • Wouldn’t it be just as equally myopic to label Democrats “good” and Republicans “bad?” To take it a step further, wouldn’t it be even more myopic to label all Tea Party members as “racists?”

          • Note, not a defense of the Tea Party, but I just think we get into trouble when broad brushstrokes are used in a debate.

          • I don’t believe the thesis is that ALL of them are racist. It’s that there’s a tremendous current of both overt and latent racism/xenophobia present in the movement. The overall effect is that the movement is racist to the point that I certainly don’t believe there would even be a Tea Party without that element.

          • Good, because I am racist against Obama, but not for the reasons you listed. It’s because I’m pretty sure he’s actually a reptilian extraterrestrial, sent to control our people. Ironically, though, his PARENTS were already here decades ago, meaning he actually WAS born in the US.

          • Well, I’m with on that count. I just can’t stand those Scalebacks draining our resources.

          • But what about using broad brushstrokes to kind of prove a point about using broad brushstrokes? Basically political debate in this country has become VERY black/white and that is bad and silly! I don’t think all Tea Party members are racist. But my understanding of their views indicates to me that there is not much logic beyond a very black/white Democrat/Republican dichotomy with little in-depth examination of issues. So I do think the Tea Party was brought about by and feeds this simplistic worldview that ENCOURAGES painting everything in broad brushstrokes, whether they hate Obama’s policies or hate that he is black. However, I do happen to think there is a strong current of racism within the Tea Party (also classism and anti-intellectualism).

    • The thing about media coverage though, is you can only spin so much. Sometimes, people are just awful. See last Friday’s Orange County protest video. Is that “negative coverage” or just coverage of a negative group?

    • Um, I’m pretty much ready to call it.

  5. Lalalala…I’m not listening!

  6. Hitler Limo: The John Galliano Story.

    Oh, that was terrible, wasn’t it? Just awful.

    • I am so glad my roommates are away on spring break and my neighbours are playing with their new sub-woofer because there is no way I could explain why I just laughed like a hyena without offending everyone forever.


  7. “What do you mean ‘Strange hat?’ It’s the latest from Paris DAHling. Would you like one? Done. I’ll schedule an appointment with my hatter. Now, what were you saying about redneck assholes? Speak into the hat please.”

  8. Yeaaaaaaahhhh, the biggest problem is that you’ve got a high ranking NPR official on tape saying that they’d be better off without federal funding, while the Republicans are currently trying to cut federal funding. You don’t think this garbage can be spun to swing people to that side? Because spoiler alert: YES IT DEFINITELY CAN pleasegoddon’tletmelosemyjob

  9. I’m glad to read your take on this this morning b/c when I saw this headline popping around the web last night I watched the video and my main thought was “um, that’s what hidden cameras catch me saying all the time.” Also, you would not believe the jokes I’d laugh at if $5M for one of the few reliable sources of international journalism was on the line.

  10. I hate James O’Keefe so much that I’m having a hard time coming up with anything funny to say. Why does this Halloween Pimp who tries to seduce women on boats have so much influence?

  11. If anyone is interested, former correspondent Juan Williams had this to say

  12. I’m confused. How does this show anything but a fundraiser trying to walk the balance between what the organization stands for, and what the cash money bling wants to hear?

    Exclusive! Caught on tape! Guy doing his job well while speaking the truth!

  13. “NPR needs to be careful who they take five million dollars from, and Ron Schiller should have done his due diligence better.” But NPR refused to accept the check, right? That’s what they’re saying: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/npr_appalled_by_exec_ron_schillers_comments_in_jam.php

  14. Here’s what blows my mind: The Tea Party had someone that could pass for a Muslim?

  15. Citizen journalists < Celebrity pranksters

  16. Yeah Gabe, but what if Gwyneth Paltrow sent the limo? And it had the Country Strong soundtrack playing on an endless loop inside?

  17. Ron Schiller: Republicans tend to be more conservative than Democrats.
    James O’Keefe: GOTHCA!
    Ron Schiller: It’s important that Muslims have a voice in our society.
    James O’Keefe: Ya burnt!
    Ron Schiller: Some people in the Tea Party are racist.
    James O’Keefe: OMG! You’ve just been PUNK’D!

  18. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  19. Just please don’t take my Terry Gross away from me. #firstworldproblems

  20. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  21. …Can someone pose as a Klan representative and offer money to the Tea Party with a hidden camera?

  22. “Americans don’t like Eggheads. When they are talking about the ELITE, they don not mena the rich. Americans LOVE the rich. They me the SMART people.”

  23. Here’s what I don’t get:

    A video shows an executive from NPR saying that they don’t necessarily need federal funding, (then qualifying it by stating that some stations would actually go dark without it), plus sort of chuckling at a “National Palestinian Radio” joke = SCANDAL SCANDAL SCANDAL

    A video with loyal Tea Party members screaming “Go back home! Go back home! Go back home!” to a peaceful Muslim gathering = no big deal, really.

    Wait, what?

  24. In defense of NPR (not that it needs defending here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxRgNnue-zk

  25. When did objective news require being tolerant to the intolerant? Cronkite is shaking his head in disapproval, America.

  26. i’m “confused” now. when you put something “in quotes,” doesn’t that usually mean that “someone said it” and not “someone said something” almost like it?

  27. Defund PBS and NPR? What on earth do people have against Car Talk, world music and jazz, Julia Child reruns, and the Sesame Street?

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