NPR chairman Dave Edwards said Wednesday that accepting Schiller's resignation was difficult. She stepped down a day after a conservative activist posted a video showing NPR executive Ron Schiller calling tea party Republicans xenophobic and racist.
Ron Schiller is not related to Vivian Schiller.
Vivian Schiller told The Associated Press that her fellow executive's comments were outrageous and unfortunate at a critical time for NPR, which is fighting to keep congressional funding.
NPR has long been a target of conservatives who claim its programming has a left-wing bias. The budget bill passed by the House last month would end funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports programs distributed on NPR and PBS.
Similar efforts to strip funding from public broadcasting in 2005 and in the 1990s were unsuccessful.
Vivian Schiller was criticized for last year's firing of analyst Juan Williams after he said on Fox News that he feels uncomfortable when he sees people in "Muslim garb" on airplanes. She later said she was sorry for the way she handled Williams' dismissal but stood by her decision to fire him.
"The board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years," board chairman Dave Edwards said in a statement. "I recognize the magnitude of this news and that it comes on top of what has been a traumatic period for NPR and the larger public radio community."
O'Keefe, best known for hidden-camera videos that embarrassed the community-organizing group ACORN, posted the NPR video on his website, Project Veritas. The group said the video was shot on Feb. 22.
The video shows two activists posing as members of a Muslim group at a lunch meeting with Ron Schiller and another NPR executive, Betsy Liley. The men offered NPR a $5 million donation and engage in a wide-ranging discussion about tea party Republicans, pro-Israel bias in the media and anti-intellectualism.
"The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party. It's been hijacked by this group that is ... not just Islamophobic but, really, xenophobic," Ron Schiller said in the video, referring to the tea party movement. "They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting - it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people."
NPR said it was appalled by Ron Schiller's comments. Schiller had already told NPR before the video was shot that he was resigning as president of its fundraising arm and a senior vice president for development. He said in a statement Tuesday night that his resignation would be effective immediately.
"While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR's values and also not reflective of my own beliefs. I offer my sincere apology to those I offended," he said.
O'Keefe asked supporters to sign a petition urging Congress to review NPR's funding.
"We've just exposed the true hearts and minds of NPR and their executives," O'Keefe said on his website.
CPB is getting $430 million in the current fiscal year, although NPR only gets about 2 percent of its revenue from the federal government. Government funding accounts for about 10 percent of the budgets of its member stations.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement that NPR's executives have "finally admitted that they do not need taxpayer dollars to survive."
Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., introduced a separate bill Friday to cut off funding for CPB.
Mark Meckler, a national coordinator for the group Tea Party Patriots, urged Congress to act in an e-mail to supporters, calling NPR a "clearly biased news organization that is out of touch with Americans across the country."
O'Keefe did not respond to e-mailed questions about the video and his decision to target NPR.
Liley said little in the video, although she can be heard laughing when one of the men says his group referred to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio." She has been placed on administrative leave, NPR said.