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Tuesday
Mar082011

Former NPR Exec. Blasts Tea Party, GOP in Hidden Camera Video

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Public Radio is finding itself in the spotlight once again after a hidden camera video emerged Tuesday of former executive Ron Schiller blasting Republicans and the Tea Party in a meeting with two members of a fictitious Muslim group.

Schiller, then-president of the NPR Foundation and senior vice president for development, calls the Tea Party "xenophobic," "seriously racist people," who are "fanatically involved in people's personal lives."

He goes on to say that the Republican party has been hijacked by the Tea Party and laments the demise of intellectualism, particularly in the GOP.

Schiller was accompanied by Betsy Liley, NPR senior director of institutional giving, on the lunch with members of the "Muslim Education Action Center," a fake group set up specifically to target NPR. The two members who met with Schiller and Liley established a purported connection with the Muslim Brotherhood early on in the lunch.

The setup was the brainchild of conservative James O'Keefe, who has become famous for his hidden-camera videos, most recently targeted at Planned Parenthood.

The video became public Tuesday but Schiller, who joined NPR in September 2009, left the organization last week to work for the nonprofit Aspen Institute.

"The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept," NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said in a statement. "We are appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for."

Schiller is not related to NPR president and chief executive Vivian Schiller.

The controversy comes as lawmakers are embroiled in a heated debate about whether to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which partially supports NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Schiller is seen in the video saying that NPR would be better off without federal funding, and even if it were to be stripped, the organization and most of its member stations would survive.

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