The controversy comes at a delicate time for public broadcasting, including PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got nearly $450 million in federal funding last year. President Obama proposed raising that amount to $451 million. But with the federal government facing severe budget deficits, and in light of the scandal, Tea Party groups and some Republicans on Capitol Hill are stepping calls to cut all federal funding to NPR.
"Besides calling the members of the Tea Party Movement 'uneducated' and 'racist,' he [Schiller] also admitted that NPR did not need taxpayer money. Let's take his advice and pass legislation to defund this biased news organization that is clearly out of touch with the American people," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said today.
House Republicans voted last month to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which partially supports NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service. That legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who led the charge to strip funding from CPB, says the video exposes "serious problems" at NPR.
"I do think it helps the cause for people to see, hey, there's some things that are going on here that are not necessarily something that the majority of Americans happen to agree with," Lamborn told ABC News.
The White House is standing by NPR, saying federal funding for public broadcasting are "worthwhile and important priorities."
"The budget makes clear the president's priorities, and among them are the funding at the level that we stipulate in the budget for National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today.
Other supporters point to the fact that Ron Schiller was not in charge of the content that was broadcast on NPR.
"Obviously it doesn't help when somebody does idiotic things. But bear in mind the person who has been subsequently let go had nothing to do with the content of public broadcasting," Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., told ABC News.
Ron Schiller, who was already scheduled to leave NPR in May, instead left Tuesday and apologized for his comments.
"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," he said in a statement Tuesday. "I offer my sincere apology to those I offended."
The lunch was set up at the request of the "Muslim Education Action Center," a fictitious group set up by O'Keefe specifically to target NPR. An NPR spokesman said the group was anxious to donate $5 million to NPR, even offering to physically deliver the check, but the news organization turned out that offer.
NPR asked the group to provide a list of donors, a list of their members of the board, organizations to which they have donated to and tax forms establishing that they were a non-profit, but none of that information was provided.
The lunch was still set up and NPR said it's not an unusual move because it was designed to be an exploratory meeting to find out more about the organization.