National Public Radio found itself swept up in a perfect storm of criticism and static Tuesday after an undercover videotape captured a top executive condemning tea party supporters as “seriously racist” and suggesting the nonprofit network would be better off without its federal taxpayer subsidies.
Conservative muckraker and underground videographer James O’Keefe and two costumed actors posing as potential Muslim donors managed to document outgoing NPR development executive Ron Schiller vilifying grass-roots conservatives and questioning NPR’s need for millions of federal dollars, all over lunch at a tony Georgetown restaurant.
“The tea party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian — I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move,” Mr. Schiller said to his convincing lunchmates, who were posing as members of the Muslim Education Action Center, a fictitious interest group with a convincing fake website.
“Tea party people aren’t just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean, basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people,” the executive continued.
NPR distanced itself from the comments and from Mr. Schiller, who resigned from NPR a week ago to take a post at another Washington nonprofit, but reaction to the tape, which the 26-year-old Mr. O’Keefe posted online Tuesday, was swift.