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NPR CEO Vivian Schiller Resigns

NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned, NPR just announced. This follows yesterday's news that then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) was videotaped slamming conservatives and questioning whether NPR needs federal funding during a lunch with men posing as members of a Muslim organization (they were working with political activist James O'Keefe on a "sting.") Vivian Schiller quickly condemned Ron Schiller's comments, and he moved up an already-announced decision to leave NPR and resigned effectively immediately. But Ron Schiller's gaffe followed last fall's dismissal of NPR political analyst Juan Williams, for which Vivian Schiller came under harsh criticism and NPR's top news executive, Ellen Weiss, resigned. NPR just sent this statement from NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards to its staff and member stations: "It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately. "The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years. "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." We'll have much more on this as the story develops. Update at 1:45 p.m. ET. NPR's David Folkenflik has now spoken with Vivian Schiller and reports that: "In an interview, now ex-NPR CEO Schiller said she recognized her departure might help public radio get past controversies of recent months." Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. More from Vivian Schiller: "I did not want to leave NPR. There's a lot of pressure on NPR right now," Schiller said today in an interview with The Associated Press. But, she said, "it would have made it too difficult for stations to face that funding threat in Congress without this change." And, according to the AP: "Schiller said she and the board concluded that her 'departure from NPR would help to mitigate the threat from those who have misperceptions about NPR as a news organization. NPR is one of the finest news organizations I've ever encountered. Our journalists are unassailable in their work.' " Update at 12:02 p.m. ET: The issue of whether NPR and PBS should receive any federal funding has been front-and-center in recent months, with conservative lawmakers in particular saying it should be cut. Aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has been among those calling for the funding to be eliminated, just released this statement from him: "Our concern is not about any one person at NPR, rather it's about millions of taxpayers. NPR has admitted that they don't need taxpayer subsidies to thrive, and at a time when the government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we certainly agree with them." Update at 11:48 a.m. ET: Based on what NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards has said in the past hour about Vivian Schiller's departure, we've added a phrase to our headline - "after board decides she should go." That reflects his statements that she told the board members to do what they thought needed to be done, and that they decided the wisest thing would be for her to leave. Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Ron Schiller is no longer going to take a job at the Aspen Institute. Yahoo's The Cutline reports that: " '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,' [an institute] spokesman said in a statement to The Cutline." Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. More from NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards on why Vivian Schiller has departed: "The events that took place [particularly Ron Schiller's statements and Juan Williams' dismissal] became such a distraction to the organization that in the board's mind it hindered Vivian Schiller's abilty to lead the organization going forward." Update at 11:22 a.m. ET. As NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards continues to talk with reporters, The Associated Press reports this: "National Public Radio President and CEO Vivian Schiller is not saying whether she offered to quit or was forced out by the organization's board of directions. Schiller told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she resigned after a discussion with the board." Update at 11:15 a.m. ET: On the issue of whether Vivian Schiller resigned or was forced out, NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards just told reporters that: "The board had a wide-ranging conversation with Vivian last night," about recent events and "how the organization needed to move forward." Schiller, he said, told the board members that they should have "the flexibility to do what [they] felt was important." She "offered to step aside if that was the board's will," he said, "and the board ultimately decided that was in the best interest of the organization." Update at 11:10 a.m. ET: The comments made by Ron Schiller in the video produced by Project Veritas "were so opposite" to what NPR stands for that "I cannot tell you how much [they] bothered me to my core," NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards just told reporters. And he said the decision to part ways with Vivian Schiller should prove the board's commitment to NPR's standards. Update at 11:06 a.m. ET: NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards just told reporters, on a conference call, that "the CEO of any organization is accountable for all of the operations of that organization." So, he said, even though Vivian Schiller wasn't personally responsible for all the mistakes made in recent months "we determined that it was the wise move for us to accept her resignation and move on." Update at 11 a.m. ET: NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards "confirms board ousted her - said Schiller set tone by saying board should take any action it felt necessary," our colleague David Folkenflik reports via Twitter. He just interviewed Edwards. We're on the phone awaiting a conference call that the board chairman is supposed to be on. We'll pass on more from that shortly. Update at 10:25 a.m. ET: As we reported earlier, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik was on Morning Edition earlier and said that he's been told Schiller was forced out. Here's the entire conversation he had with host Renee Montagne. Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. What some others are writing: -- The Associated Press: "NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday in the wake of comments by a fellow executive that angered conservatives and renewed calls to end federal funding for public broadcasting." -- The New York Times' Media Decoder blog: "Controversy has swirled around NPR in recent months, as Republicans in Congress have sought to reduce or eliminate money for NPR from the federal budget and as conservatives have accused the network of having a liberal bias." Update at 9:47 a.m. ET. On Vivian Schiller: -- She joined NPR in January 2009. -- Before that, she was senior vice president and general manager of NYTimes.com. -- In previous years, she worked in top posts at Discovery Times Channel and CNN Productions. Update at 9:43 a.m. ET. More from NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, via Twitter: "The board for NPR NEWS has just ousted CEO Vivian Schiller in the wake of video sting by conservative activist of a top exec." Update at 9:30 a.m. ET: "I'm told by sources that she was forced out," NPR's David Folkenflik just said on Morning Edition. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Original Article from NPR's Blog The Two-Way Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below...