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NPR journalists denounce former executive's 'tea party' remarks

On-air personalities Robert Siegel, Scott Simon, Renee Montagne and others call Ron Schiller's videotaped comments 'offensive' in an open letter to listeners.

March 10, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

Some of the best-known journalists at NPR have released what they call an open letter "to listeners and supporters" that calls remarks made by a former NPR fundraising executive "offensive" and says they have done "real damage" to the public broadcaster.

On-air personalities such as Robert Siegel, Scott Simon, Renee Montagne Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg, signed the letter, which comes a day after NPR's president and CEO, Vivian Schiller, resigned in the wake of the controversy that erupted after NPR executive Ron Schiller was caught on video by conservative activists denigrating the "tea party" movement.

The letter reads as follows:

"We, and our colleagues at NPR News, strive every day to bring you the highest quality news programs possible. So, like you, we were appalled by the offensive comments made recently by NPR's now former Senior Vice President for Development. His words violated the basic principles by which we live and work: accuracy and open-mindedness, fairness and respect.

Those comments have done real damage to NPR. But we're confident that the culture of professionalism we have built, and the journalistic values we have upheld for the past four decades, will prevail. We are determined to continue bringing you the daily journalism that you've come to expect and rely upon: fair, fact-based, in-depth reporting from at home and around the world.

With your support we have no doubt NPR will come out of this difficult period stronger than ever."

NPR remains locked in a struggle on Capitol Hill, where Republicans want to eliminate all taxpayer support for public broadcasting. NPR's board of directors accepted Schiller's resignation after it concluded that the video incident, along with last year's row over the firing of analyst Juan Williams, had put NPR in a tenuous position politically.

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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