Garrison Keillor, whose public radio show "Prairie Home Companion" I adore, quipped in the December 21, 2009 issue of Time:
"[Public radio's] role is to talk to people who are stuck in traffic. And conservatives become incensed enough listening to public radio that it keeps them awake so they don't drive into a fire hydrant. That's what we do: we save the lives if thousands of right-wingers every year. And they never thank us for it."
Michael Calderone, Yahoo blogger, writes:
"Outgoing NPR executive Ron Schiller slams Republicans and the tea party movement and suggests that NPR would be better off without any federal funding in a hidden-camera video released Tuesday by conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe." (story)
Schiller is hardly denying this. In fact, he says things more strongly in this captioned hidden camera video.
NPR slams Schiller the Calderone article. The $5 million was not accepted, no matter what Schiller's personal views are.
That Schiller believes Republicans are anti-intellectual is clear. But he is leaving NPR. Quitting. And NPR is slamming the door behind him.
"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." (NPR's statement)
Conservatives, I expect, will breathe heavy over the opportunity to tear Federal funding away from NPR. Schiller says, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, that this funding equals 10% of their overall income.
Liberals, in turn -- some, I suspect, will cheer Schiller on, give more to NPR and to his new company, and get him on talk shows. Likewise, it makes sense that they will buff off the undercover nature of the video above.
They might also point out O'Keefe's clear bias: he also made the ACORN and Planned Parenthood videos. They will rightfully explain his politically motivated agenda is to take down liberal organization funding a notch and malign their public perception.
What will the Jewish community say? The groups supporting NPR are probably in a meeting right now. They have been dissed by Schiller, or not. He essentially says they may not agree with what NPR is saying, but want fair, balanced viewpoints. How true that is, and whether they keep their public relations head low in the next week or two is what's being talked about in that meeting.
Are both sides overreacting? Perhaps all Schiller was doing was catering to what he hoped would be a $5 million haul for NPR. He was being set-up and baited. He spoke of his own views, trying to help facilitate the sale.
Opportunists on all sides are abound.
Keillor, though, will shudder, worry about rush hour traffic in Minneapolis and beyond. Take that Federal funding away, and all bets are off next time he is driving to rehearsal at the Fitzgerald Theater.