April 19, 2024

NPR Editor Resigns

Last week, NPR senior editor Uri Berliner wrote an essay arguing that the outlet has a liberal bias and that “An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.” He cited examples including NPR’s coverage of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the Covid lab-leak theory. The Free Press

[Berliner] resigned on Wednesday… a day after it was revealed that he had been suspended for five days for violating company rules about outside work done without permission… ‘I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems’ written about in his essay, Berliner said in his resignation letter…

“Katherine Maher [is] a former tech executive appointed in January as NPR’s chief executive… Conservative activist Christopher Rufo revealed some of Maher’s past tweets after the essay was published. In one tweet, dated January 2018, Maher wrote that ‘Donald Trump is a racist.’ A post just before the 2020 election pictured her in a Biden campaign hat. In response, an NPR spokeswoman said Maher, years before she joined the radio network, was exercising her right to express herself.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left defends NPR and criticizes Berliner’s essay.

At the time the [Hunter Biden] laptop story was dodgy in the extreme. The narrative about a blind PC repair guy who just happened to contact Rudy Giuliani was bizarre…

“Multiple outlets passed on the story before the New York Post ran it, and even one of their reporters was so skeptical he refused to allow his byline to be used. Other reporters who followed up on the story found nothing. Giuliani refused to let anyone examine the hard drive… [It] deserved to be treated skeptically by reputable journalists…

“[Regarding the lab leak theory] The authors of ‘Proximal Origins,’ which supported the natural origins theory very early on, didn't have any secret doubts about what they wrote. There's no serious evidence that Anthony Fauci or anyone else manipulated evidence in favor of natural origins. The lab leak theory was motivated from the start not by scientific evidence but by (admittedly legitimate) suspicion of China's behavior… Berliner is accusing NPR of nothing more than exercising pretty good editorial judgment.”

Kevin Drum, Jabberwocking

An NPR host writes, “A careful read of the article shows many sweeping statements for which the writer is unable to offer evidence… He writes of a dismaying experience with his managers: ‘I asked why we keep using that word that many Hispanics hate—Latinx.’ Why indeed? It’s true that many Latinos don’t like this ungendered term, including some who work at NPR. That may be why NPR does not generally use the term

“I did a search at npr.org for the previous 90 days. I found: 197 uses of Latino… 201 uses of Latina… And just nine uses of ‘Latinx,’ usually by a guest on NPR who certainly has the right to say it… The story is written in a way that is probably satisfying to the people who already believe it, and unpersuasive to anyone else—a mirror image of his critique of NPR.”

Steve Inskeep, Differ We Must

A former NPR editor/producer writes, “Uri’s account of the deliberate effort to undermine Trump up to and after his election is also bewilderingly incomplete, inaccurate, and skewed. For most of 2016, many NPR journalists warned newsroom leadership that we weren’t taking Trump and the possibility of his winning seriously enough…

“In [one] meeting, I and a couple of other editorial leaders were encouraged to make sure that any coverage of a Trump lie was matched with a story about a lie from Hillary Clinton. Another colleague asked what to do if one candidate just lied more than the other. [A] silent response…

“[Following the election] We went full-bore on ‘diner guy in a trucker hat’ coverage and adopted the ‘alt-right’ label to describe people who could accurately be called racists… We regularly set up live interviews with Republican officials and Trump surrogates.”

Alicia Montgomery, Slate

From the Right

The right is critical of Maher and calls for NPR to be defunded.

The right is critical of Maher and calls for NPR to be defunded.

“NPR did some deep soul-searching about Berliner, a twenty-five year-long NPR employee, and decided he was the problem. All of this comes as newly hired NPR CEO Katherine Maher is being forced to relive some of her past words, tweets and posts that signal the exact same sentiments Berliner criticized in his resignation letter

“What should be most troubling, however, is that Maher flaunted a Biden campaign hat in a post from 2020, as she canvassed a Get Out the Vote operation in Arizona. NPR now has a dilemma: they can keep Maher as CEO (which I believe they will), but they can no longer dispute the accusations of what Berliner claimed the network has become in recent years.”

Stephen L. Miller, Spectator World

“[According to Maher’s tweets] She’s a vegetarian. She hates cars. And white men flying on planes. She supports race-based reparations, rioting, and the Black Lives Matter movement. She believes ‘America is addicted to white supremacy.’ She doesn’t want to become a mother because ‘the planet is literally burning.’ She uses phrases such as ‘CIS white mobility privilege’ unironically…

“As completely out of touch as Maher’s views are with the rest of America, the scary part is how willing she is to use her ample power to snuff out dissenting voices. Not only did she falsely label Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) New York Times op-ed on the 2020 riots as ‘misinformation,’ but she considered it her job at Wikimedia to censor speech she deemed harmful…“Such speech [might potentially include] former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of all people, using terms such as ‘boy and girl,’ which Maher believes is ‘erasing language for non-binary people.’”

Conn Carroll, Washington Examiner

“Admittedly, in principle, we don’t think that it is the role of the federal government to fund public broadcasting. But if the government is going to be subsidizing a news organization, that organization should at least be balanced with a mix of perspectives more representative of the country. When it fails to do this, any justification for continuing to support it out of the common treasury falls apart…

“Berliner, in his resignation letter, wrote that he does not support calls to defund NPR and expresses hope that NPR can ‘thrive and do important journalism.’ But the reality that Berliner describes is too deeply rooted to be easily changed…

“If NPR wants to run a journalist enterprise that is dedicated to advancing progressive ideology, it should do so with income from sponsorships, donations, subscriptions, or other avenues — just like every other media organization. It should not benefit from subsidies from U.S. taxpayers.”

The Editors, National Review

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