The astonishing revelations that an important NPR fundraiser regards part of his network’s own listening audience with contempt shouldn’t come as a surprise to any conservative. For decades the suspicion that the most popular public broadcasting network in the country is illiberally partisan and insensitive to conservative viewpoints has been a source of great frustration and resentment among those who believe that a tax payer funded radio network should be open to views from all quarters of the political spectrum.
But the sting that netted former NPR fundraiser Nicholas Schiller revealed far more than bias. It lifted a rock on a curdling hatred and seething paranoia which added together amounts to open bigotry. And all from the mouth of an institution which regularly decries it.
Here are some of his verbatim comments:
“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.”
“I think what we all believe is if we don’t have Muslim voices in our schools, on the air … it’s the same thing we faced as a nation when we didn’t have female voices.”
In the heavily edited tape, that last comment followed Schiller being told by one of the men that their organization “was originally founded by a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” There’s no sign in the edited tape that Schiller reacted in any way after being told of the group’s alleged connection to an Islamic group that appeared to be connected with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Schiller is also caught laughing at a joke made by one of the men who suggests that NPR should be renamed ‘National Palestinian Radio.’
Rarely are the inner workings and thinking of an institution given such flagrant and obvious exposure.
There is little way the officers and staff of NPR can avoid being tarred with the same brush as Schiller by ascribing his comments to their errant fundraiser alone. After all, Schiller was the leading NPR fundraiser in the country for nearly a decade. And while it is true that fundraisers will say and do anything to close a pledge, no one should forget that Schiller was representing a public facility with a huge national audience and therefore bore a responsibility to be both cautious and circumspect in the expression of his own views.
Even more troubling is the revelation that radio networks like NPR, just like our universities, can be bought for the right amount of money and that the representatives of these organizations are as craven and money driven as the institutions they regularly pillory.
Of course no one in the liberal sphere calls this bigotry since in these circles it is the prevailing belief that only conservatives can be bigots. But lets forget even bigotry. Schiller’s comments reveal not just hatred and intolerance – but a corruption that is as pervasive as it is soul deep.
NPR may now well dump its CEO and its officers. It may dispense with its entire Board. But nothing will save its reputation if the partisanship for which it has become notorious is not immediately repudiated and its internal rules for fair and balanced reporting rewritten and then rigorously enforced.