STING: The Right jabs pubradio with NPR fundraiser’s words

Neither Ron Schiller nor Betsy Liley had eaten before at Café Milano, the upscale see-and-be-seen restaurant in Georgetown, before Feb. 22, when they stepped into an elaborate trap that had been set for them there. The two NPR fundraisers didn’t get the $5 million donation that was discussed by their lunch partners, and the president of NPR didn’t pose for a photo accepting a phony check, but those were the better results of the lunch meeting. They couldn’t have expected that a hidden-camera recording of their talk with two prospective donors would cost Schiller his next job, put Liley on administrative leave, trigger the ouster of NPR’s president and severely undercut support for federal aid to public broadcasting. Two weeks later, March 8, the consequences began tumbling into sight as right-wing activist James O’Keefe’s video of their lunch meeting spread virally on the Web.

DISARRAY: Takedown leaves gaps in network’s top ranks

NPR is facing the most serious political crisis in its history with no chief executive to speak for it, no chief fundraiser to make sure its new building can be finished, and no chief journalist to rebuff or heed criticism of its newsroom. “People feel that they’ve been let down, and there’s this vacuum at NPR, and what’s next?” said Dave Edwards, chair of the NPR Board. “Those emotions are felt by people in NPR’s building, at stations and by board members. The board has an obligation to stabilize things. That’s what we’re working on.”

Joyce Slocum, general counsel and senior v.p. of legal affairs, was named interim c.e.o. after the departure of Vivian Schiller March 9, but she has asked the NPR Board to recruit another exec to serve as the public face of NPR, speaking for it in Congress and to the press, she told Current.