WASHINGTON — NPR's interim president and CEO said Thursday she is fully confident the organization's leadership team and said those who think their news coverage is biased would change their minds simply by listening to its programming.
Joyce Slocum's comments in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press came just before conservative activist James O'Keefe posted a follow-up video as part of his undercover investigation of NPR. A video posted Tuesday included a former NPR executive calling the tea party movement racist and led to former president and CEO Vivian Schiller's resignation.
The new video includes recordings of phone conversations between NPR executive Betsy Liley and an activist posing as a member of a phony group with ties to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. The two discuss the logistics of a potential $5 million donation from the group to NPR and the ways in which it could be kept anonymous and shielded from government scrutiny.
NPR says it never came close to accepting the money because the phony group did not meet its standards for potential donors. Liley has been placed on administrative leave.
Liley says in the video that Schiller and Slocum, then NPR's general counsel, were aware of the potential $5 million donation from the group, which called itself the Muslim Education Action Center and said on its website that its goal was "to spread acceptance of Sharia across the world."
The latest controversy involving NPR — which also drew widespread criticism for last year's firing of analyst Juan Williams — comes amid the most serious threat yet to federal funding for public broadcasting.
NPR has long been targeted by conservatives over a perceived liberal bias in its programming. For some, the video of former executive Ron Schiller — who calls tea party Republicans racist, xenophobic and anti-intellectual — confirmed those suspicions. Ron Schiller is not related to Vivian Schiller and has resigned as NPR's top fundraiser.
Ron Schiller also said in the video that NPR would be better off without federal funding. Many Republicans in Congress agree. The House has voted to cut all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is getting $430 million in the current fiscal year. Democrats in the Senate and President Barack Obama favor continued funding for CPB.
NPR has disavowed Schiller's comments and noted that he was not involved in newsgathering.