NPR on its blog today confirmed that Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell has been tapped as president and CEO of National Public Radio, after the news broke on the network’s Weekend All Things Considered show. He will take over Dec. 1 and fill the spot that was vacated when former CEO Vivian Schiller departed following a couple of high-profile dust-ups: one when an NPR exec was caught on a hidden camera calling the Tea Party “racist” as well as Schiller’s part in the dismissal of NPR and Fox News commentator Juan Williams over his comments about being uncomfortable seeing people in Musilm dress on airplanes. NPR also has come under fire from some in Congress who are looking to cut the public radio network’s funding. From today’s announcement about Knell:
Vivian Schiller, the former National Public Radio president and CEO who resigned in March in the wake of a hidden-camera scandal at the organization, has joined NBC News in the newly created position of Chief Digital Officer. She will be tasked with leading the digital strategy (Web and mobile) at NBC News and MSNBC to “ensure future growth and innovation” and will report to NBC News president Steve Capus. She begins in July. Schiller is no stranger to the TV business, with previous stints at Discovery Times Channel and overseeing long-form programming as head of CNN Productions. ”Her background in journalism, combined with expertise in the digital space, will add a strong new pillar to the NBC News leadership team,” Capus said in making the announcement today.
Schiller’s March resignation was a fallout from the posting by conservative activist James O’Keefe of a hidden-camera video of senior NPR executive Tom Schiller (no relation) bashing the tea party movement as “racist” and “xenophobic” and saying that NPR would be better off without federal funding. (Tom Schiller resigned right after his statements were made public.) The controversy unfolded just as conservatives were mounting pressure to defund the public radio broadcaster. A week after Vivian Schiller’s resignation, the House voted 228-192 in favor of ending federal funding of NPR. Vivian Schiller first came under fire last year for the dismissal of longtime analyst Juan Williams …
The vote today was 228-192 in favor of permanently defunding National Public Radio. The public broadcaster gets about 2% of its revenue via grants from federal agencies in places like the Department of Education, but NPR says it gets 40% from member station fees, which would go away if the bill becomes law. The vote was mostly along party lines, though seven Republicans voted against the measure. It’s unlikely it will get much traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate when it moves there for consideration; the White House already has said it opposes the measure.
The bill picked up steam as Republicans pounced on a recent hidden-camera controversy at NPR that ended in the resignation of CEO Vivian Schiller.