Ousted NPR Chief May Land at NBC News

1:03 PM PST 06/01/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
NPR

Vivian Schiller is expected to head up digital projects at the news organization.

Former National Public Radio president and CEO Vivian Schiller is close to finalizing a deal to join NBC News where she’ll head up digital projects, sources at the network confirm.

Before her two-year stint at NPR, Schiller was a senior executive at the New York Times web site. Prior to that she ran Discovery Times, the cable channel that was a joint venture between the New York Times and Discovery Communications.

But while she has extensive digital experience and won’t be attached to any one program at the news division, she may still be somewhat of a controversial choice for NBC News.

Schiller resigned as CEO of the NPR last March, five months after a flare up over her decision to dismiss NPR analyst Juan Williams in part for remarks he made about Muslims on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

After firing Williams, who was also a Fox News contributor at the time, Schiller gave a disastrous extemporaneous interview in which she asserted that Williams’ comments about getting “nervous” when he sees people in “Muslim garb” on airplanes should have been kept between him and “his psychiatrist.” Schiller apologized and Williams subsequently landed a full-time job at Fox News.

But the incident spurred accusations of liberal bias against NPR with many prominent conservatives — in Washington and the media — questioning the public broadcaster’s right to federal funding.  

NPR’s problems were compounded several months later when conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe released a surreptitiously recorded video showing outgoing NPR Foundation executive Ron Schiller (no relation) making disparaging comments about members of the Tea Party. Schiller resigned days after the video was made public.

The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D reported that Schiller was in talks with NBC News earlier today. A network representative declined to comment.

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