NPR has a new acting, interim president and CEO who comes with some unique credentials. Paul G. Haaga has ties to right-wing think tanks, is a regular contributor to Republican politicians, and is a former financial industry lobbyist, Fair Blog reports.
According to an NPR press release, Haaga is the former chairman of the Investment Company Institute, a lobbying group for US investment companies. Members include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, and hundreds of others.
In the last four years, Haaga has donated about $117,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. This year, he donated $32,400 to the Republican National Committee. Recent donations to Republican politicians include contributions to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Haaga is also a member of the National Council of the American Enterprise Institute, a powerful, pro-business, conservative think tank. He has been on the NPR board since 2011, and is expected to remain on the board after his term as president and CEO has been served.
NPR’s new president seems a particularly interesting choice given that, for the past few years, Republicans have attempted to defund NPR on the mythological basis that it is a “mainstream liberal media” outlet.
In 2010, House Republicans announced that they would force a floor vote on defunding NPR after an incident involving the termination of one of its analysts, namely over comments he made about Muslims while on Fox News. Their attempt to force a vote failed.
The following year, House Republicans voted to prevent NPR from receiving federal funding. The bill was fast-tracked to the floor, violating Republicans’ pledge to allow all bills to be posted online for at least 72 hours before a vote is taken.
The vote occurred after a conservative sting operation showed a former NPR executive, Ron Schiller, criticizing the Republican Party. The sting operation was conducted by conservative activist James O’Keefe, who was arrested in 2010 for attempting to secretly tape staffers at a US senator’s office, and has been known to heavily edit his already-contrived undercover videos.
O’Keefe orchestrated a meeting between Schiller and another NPR director with members of a fictitious Muslim organization.
The fake meeting was secretly recorded and Schiller was caught on camera telling the fake Muslims that the Tea Party is “xenophobic,” and includes some “seriously racist people.” Schiller also said that the GOP has been “hijacked” by the Tea Party and “lament[ed] the demise of intellectualism, particularly in the GOP,” ABC News reports.