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Response To Recordings of NPR’s Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley

NPR, WFIU, and NPR journalists respond to video.

On March 8, a video surfaced online in which individuals posing as potential funders met with Ron Schiller, NPR’s then-Senior Vice President for Development, and NPR’s Senior Director of Institutional Giving, Betsy Liley. The lunch meeting, purportedly about a $5 million grant to NPR, was secretly filmed. That day, Ron Schiller resigned immediately and Betsy Liley was placed on administrative leave. NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller’s resignation was announced the next morning.

Following are responses from NPR and WFIU, plus an open letter from a group of NPR journalists, followed by a way to contact NPR with your comments.

NPR’s Statement

The comments contained in the video released today are contrary to everything we stand for, and we completely disavow the views expressed. NPR is fair and open-minded about the people we cover. Our reporting reflects those values every single day in the civility of our programming, the range of opinions we reflect and the diversity of stories we tell.

The assertion that NPR and public radio stations would be better off without federal funding does not reflect reality. The elimination of federal funding would significantly damage public broadcasting as a whole.

Prior to the lunch meeting presented in the edited video, Ron Schiller had informed NPR that he was resigning from his position to take a new job. His resignation was announced publicly last week, and he was expected to depart in May. While we review this situation, he has been placed on administrative leave.

WFIU’s Statement

Comments heard in the video with Mr. Schiller do not represent the thoughts and convictions of public radio professionals. Our mission is to offer balanced and fair coverage of issues and present the highest quality news, information and cultural content available to us. Our coverage strives for accuracy. We do not promote divisiveness be it political, social, or religious. Our intent is to create a forum where ideas can be exchanged and audiences informed, educated, and enlightened. 170 million Americans use our services, and we pride ourselves in the diversity of our listeners. They come from all walks of like, all ethnic backgrounds, religious backgrounds, education levels, and political persuasions. This diversity is what makes us strong, and for us, it is a source of pride. We disagree most strongly with the comments by Mr. Schiller, and we separate ourselves from them. We request NPR to take appropriate action in response to this tape.

An Open Letter from Journalists at NPR News

Dear Listeners and Supporters,

We, and our colleagues at NPR News, strive every day to bring you the highest quality news programs possible. So, like you, we were appalled by the offensive comments made recently by NPR’s now former Senior Vice President for Development. His words violated the basic principles by which we live and work: accuracy and open-mindedness, fairness and respect.

Those comments have done real damage to NPR. But we’re confident that the culture of professionalism we have built, and the journalistic values we have upheld for the past four decades, will prevail. We are determined to continue bringing you the daily journalism that you’ve come to expect and rely upon: fair, fact-based, in-depth reporting from at home and around the world.

With your support we have no doubt NPR will come out of this difficult period stronger than ever.

Thank you,

Robert Siegel
Michele Norris
Melissa Block
Renee Montagne
Scott Simon
Liane Hansen
Guy Raz
Michel Martin
Neal Conan
Susan Stamberg
Nina Totenberg
Linda Wertheimer
Daniel Zwerdling
John Ydstie
Richard Harris
Tom Gjelten
Howard Berkes
Mike Shuster
Laura Sullivan
Lynn Neary
Jacki Lyden
Mara Liasson
Cokie Roberts

Comments related to this incident can be directed to NPR through its online contact form and at 202.513.3232.