The heat got too hot for Vivian Schiller, who suddenly resigned Wednesday as president and CEO of NPR.
Her exit comes one day after the release of an embarrassing video orchestrated by conservative activist James O’Keefe that showed Ron Schiller, the public radio network’s senior vice president for development, making remarks that played right into conservatives’ argument that the organization has a liberal bias.
Though Ron Schiller resigned a week ago, in what NPR has said was an unrelated decision, the incident wasn’t the only one dogging Vivian Schiller. (The two Schillers are unrelated.)
During a National Press Club luncheon address on Monday, Schiller admitted that NPR made mistakes when Juan Williams was fired in October. She also had to eat crow over the organization’s premature reporting of the death of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
It’s hard to determine if Schiller’s resignation will help or hinder the Republican movement in Congress to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The House has already approved that move, which now faces the Democrat-controlled Senate.
NPR’s announcement of Schiller’s resignation was brief. “The board accepted Vivian’s resignation with understanding, genuine regret and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years,” said Dave Edwards, NPR board chairman. NPR’s David Folkenflik has painted a different picture of what happened, however. On Twitter, Folkenflik said that Schiller was forced out by the board.
For now, Schiller will be replaced by Joyce Slocum, senior vice president of legal affairs and general counsel for NPR, while the board puts together an executive transition committee to search for a new president and CEO.
UPDATE: Ron Schiller, who had decided to leave NPR for a job at the Aspen Institute, now won’t be going there after all. “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,” a spokesman for the Aspen Institute said in a statement. Ron Schiller is still out at NPR, however.