National Public Radio's Board of Directors was so panicked by James O'Keefe's initial video sting release last month that it requested its CEO resign just as the organization was getting its hands on the transcripts to O'Keefe's unedited video. It was the unedited video that later revealed how the original NPR tapes released to the public had been heavily, and unethically, edited by O'Keefe in order to make the NPR executives captured on tape look as bad, and partisan, and as possible.
NPR's former CEO, Vivian Schiller, explained her forced resignation during a recent sit-down interview at the Paley Center For Media on Tuesday. She said the Board was under intense pressure to save its public funding and moved immediately to try to contain the O'Keefe story.
She stressed the irony of the controversy was that when the story first broke, she was determined to take things slow and to not make what she conceded were mistakes in the handling of Juan William's firing last year:
SCHILLER: In fact, when the video tape, the sting video emerged on the morning, I think it was, of March 9th, the first thing, actually, popped into my head was, "okay let's not make the mistake we made in October. Let's slow down. Let's look at what this tape is. Let's take a look at the whole two hour version of it." It was almost an opportunity to, you know, say let's fix what we didn't do right in October.
SCHILLER: The timing was, the edited video hit at about ten o'clock. They released the two hour version I think it was about two o'clock in the afternoon. We rushed to get a rush transcript. But even a rush transcript --it was two hours, it takes two hours, at a minimum. So we were just getting our hands on that long one. But then, anyway, the Board met and the rest is history.