It is a bloodbath over at National Public Radio. First the pinhead Ron Schiller resigns after initially being defended by NPR and then, by the end of the day Tuesday, being given the Shuffalo to Buffalo. Then Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, resigns the next day as chief executive officer and president of NPR. Ron Schiller was caught on tape saying NPR did not need its subsidy from the federal government to survive, but I guess the board of directors of NPR is taking no chances. Off with both of the Schillers' heads.
Actually, NPR and its affiliates are among the most overstaffed and extravagant operations in media. In the 1990s, when I did "The Editors" — a television show from Montreal that appeared on public television stations (because of my presence, one had to be an insomniac to catch the show in Washington on WETA, a lamentable situation insisted on by Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president of WETA and a Public Broadcasting Service board member) — the Montreal production company did the show for a pittance of what public television paid. I believe a Washington production would have outspent us by a 10-1 ratio. NPR is no different. Ron Schiller, who was NPR's fundraising chief, said it would survive the cuts, and doubtless it could. I say cut its subsidy. It has been in more scandals of late than Charlie Sheen. Off with all their heads.
Schiller was taped surreptitiously in Georgetown's Cafe Milano talking, he thought, with members of the Muslim Education Action Center, a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood. Apparently by his lights, the Muslim Brotherhood is a group of sophisticates, because he divulged his urbane views of the world. Caught on tape were his views of the tea party: "The tea party is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian, and I wouldn't even call it Christian; it's this weird evangelical kind of movement." In truth, the tea party movement is mostly interested in budgetary issues.
After being goaded by one of his interlocutors ("The radical, racist, Islamophobic tea party people?"), Schiller proceeded: "And not just Islamophobic but really xenophobic. I mean, basically ... they believe in sort of white, Middle America, gun-toting — I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people." All of this Schiller said to indict the Republican Party: "The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group." He was speaking of the tea party.
Rather oddly, none of the commentary I read this week caught Schiller's low estimate of America as a whole. Quite hilariously, one of his new friends in MEAC baited him, "What is your opinion of that whole situation that is going on in Egypt?" Schiller responded insanely: "To me, this is representative of the thing that I am ... most disturbed by and disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so ... you have this very large uneducated part of the population that carries these ideas. It's much more about anti-intellectualism than it is about (politics)." America, in this poor sap's imagination, is Egypt or maybe Iran.
It is not clear to me where Schiller got such a high opinion of his own intellect. The two fun-loving guys who played the roles of members of MEAC certainly made him look the fool on this tape. They were working for conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe, whose sting of ACORN put that group of hustlers out of business. Now he bids fare with his NPR sting to put it, if not out of business, at least off the public payroll. Yet where did Schiller get the idea that he is so sophisticated and free of prejudice? Elsewhere in the conversation, one of the Muslim men started talking about Zionist control of our media. Now, let us see. Schiller thought he was talking to Muslim fundamentalists; they started talking about Zionist control of the media, and he did not even object, much less leave the table. Schiller is not only stupid but also a bigot.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.