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Playing by Different Rules

This week saw NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller step down after her chief fund-raiser was caught in a sting operation by right-wing activist James O’Keefe. The entire process from the O’Keefe video going public to Schiller stepping down took a total of 12 hours. The knee jerk reaction involved seemed awfully familiar to those following NPR’s dismissal of Juan Williams this past fall.

The O’Keefe sting operation involved setting up a meeting between NPR chief fundraiser Ronald Schiller (no relation) and to actors posing as Muslim philanthropists with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In the video, Mr. Schiller remarks that the Tea Party is made up of racists, and that liberals tend to be more educated than conservatives.

The shame in all of this is that Schiller felt the need to resign over comments that were inappropriate at best. Her counterpart at Fox News, Roger Ailes, was recently caught on tape urging publisher Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators vetting Bernard Kerik for the job of Director of Homeland Security. Ailes is caught on tape urging someone to commit perjury in an act that could harm the nation’s security, and the idea of resigning is never even suggested. A staffer makes a few off-color remarks at NPR, and suddenly the company’s executive has to step down.

I would be willing to bet that the presidents of MTV or Comedy Central would step down from their posts if a federal investigation had caught them urging someone to commit perjury. The idea that the head of a news organization is unwilling to do so under these circumstances is outrageous and truly speaks to Fox’s lack of credibility. 

Fox and NPR clearly have a different view of what is appropriate behavior for news executives. It’s a shame that NPR is willing to allow itself to be bullied by conservative activists like O’Keefe at a time where integrity within the industry is so scarce.

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