Breaking: NPR board ousts Vivian Schiller

posted at 9:56 am on March 9, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Did she jump — or did she get pushed?  NPR announced the resignation of Vivian Schiller this morning, but the Daily Caller read the Twitter feed of NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, which told a different story:

BREAKING: The board for NPR NEWS has just ousted CEO Vivian Schiller in the wake of video sting by conservative activist of a top exec.

Folkenflik followed up that tweet with another that underscored the involuntary nature of Schiller’s departure:

LISTEN to my discussion coming up in a few minutes on NPR’s Morning Edition. To repeat: NPR CEO Vivian Schiller forced out by board.

NPR made it seem a little more voluntary:

NPR just sent this statement from NPR Board of Directors Chairman Dave Edwards to its staff and member stations:

“It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately.

“The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years.

“Vivian brought vision and energy to this organization. She led NPR back from the enormous economic challenges of the previous two years. She was passionately committed to NPR’s mission, and to stations and NPR working collaboratively as a local-national news network.

“According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the Board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO. The Board will immediately establish an Executive Transition Committee that will develop a timeframe and process for the recruitment and selection of new leadership.

“I recognize the magnitude of this news – and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community. The Board is committed to supporting NPR through this interim period and has confidence in NPR’s leadership team.”

So which is it?  This is no point of mere semantics.  NPR holds itself out as a news organization, and asks its consumers to give it credibility.  Is Folkenflik misinformed, or is the board lying about their “regret” at accepting Schiller’s resignation?  I’d guess it’s the latter, as NPR desperately attempts to save face after a series of scandals and botched management decisions, starting with the termination of Juan Williams last year.

For most people, though, the question of whether Vivian Schiller jumped or was pushed is academic.  They’ll just note the justice of her public downfall after those scandals of the last few months, and the benefit that came from stripping the mask from NPR the last two days.

Update: Here’s another data point on NPR’s credibility from the NYT’s Brian Stelter, via Twitter:

FYI: Vivian Schiller gave no indication of any plan to resign in an interview with The New York Times Tuesday evening.

Shouldn’t a news organization be honest in reporting on its own actions?

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