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NPR Editor Opposes Progressive Bias; is Suspended from Work 

NPR Editor Opposes Progressive Bias; is Suspended from Work 

A senior editor with National Public Radio (NPR) was suspended from work without pay after he criticized the network for its progressive bias.  

NPR has “lost America’s trust” by approaching its news content from a progressive angle, wrote Uri Berliner in an essay published by The Free Press on April 9th (link below). The veteran journalist also presented his criticism of NPR during an appearance on the podcast Honestly with Bari Weiss and spoke about it with The New York Times. 

Berliner, who has worked for the mission-driven news outlet for 25 years, says he tried repeatedly to bring his concerns about the station’s growing political bias to executives. He noted the network’s obsession with maintaining diversity within its staff and wonders why that same commitment hasn’t been applied to viewpoint.

Berliner is most upset by the network’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic (most specifically its theory of origin), trans rights, the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, and the Israel-Hamas conflict and its decision not to pursue the Hunter Biden laptop story. 

Former President Donald Trump responded to Berliner’s criticism by calling on the federal government to cease its funding to NPR.

“I love NPR and feel it’s a national trust,” said Berliner during an interview with fellow NPR journalist David Folkenflik. “We have great journalists here. If they shed their opinions and did the great journalism they’re capable of, this would be a much more interesting and fulfilling organization for our listeners.”

“It’s true that NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding. In recent years, however, that has changed,” he continued. “Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.”

This changing viewpoint is mirrored by NPR’s audience. In 2011, the station’s viewer breakdown was roughly 26% conservative, 37% liberal, and 23% independent. As of last year, that breakdown had shifted to: 11% conservative, 67% liberal, and 21% independent.

Inspecting the voter registration records for the employees with whom he works in a DC-based newsroom, Berliner found 87 registered Democrats and 0 Republicans. NPR has also failed to attract Black and Hispanic viewers. As of last year, roughly 6% of its audience was Black and 7% Hispanic.

“An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” laments Berliner. “That wouldn’t be a problem for an openly polemical news outlet service a niche audience. But for NPR, which purports to consider all things, it’s devastating both for its journalism and its business model.”

Berliner has little faith that the network’s newly-hired CEO, Katherine Maher, will be able to steer the channel in the right direction.

Maher, who took the job with NPR last month despite never having worked for a news station, has been criticized by conservatives for describing Donald Trump as “racist” in a 2020 tweet and dismissing the importance of the social justice protests that occurred that year. “We’re looking for a leader right now who’s going to be unifying and bring more people into the tent and have a broader perspective on, sort of, what America is all about,” said Berliner. “And this seems to be the opposite of that.” 

Speaking to reporters following the publication of Berliner’s essay, Maher told reporters that ‘Americans are entitled to free speech’ and that “what matters is NPR’s work and my commitment as its CEO: public service, editorial independence, and the mission to serve all of the American public. NPR is independent, beholden to no party, and without commercial interests.” 

As NPR would later confirm, Maher has absolutely no input on editorial decisions. Though she did not mention him by name, she implied Berliner’s essay was hurtful and disrespectful to the staff. 

NPR has long been viewed as one of the nation’s last-remaining sources of reliable and objective news content. Unfortunately, it appears that this is no longer the case. If NPR really wants to commit to the progressive cause, then it needs to market itself as such to avoid disenfranchising its viewers. 

NPR executives have promised to start conducting monthly reviews of the network’s coverage to avoid bias, but I wouldn’t bet on any major changes. Berliner was suspended from work without pay for five days because he didn’t ask for permission to appear in outside press. A week later, he resigned because he ‘cannot work in a newsroom where he is disparaged.’ 

Sources:

I’ve been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust

NPR suspends veteran editor as it grapples with his public criticism

NPR in Turmoil After it is Accused of Liberal Bias

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2 Comments

  1. RPierce

    He is absolutely spot on. I was loyal to NPR, but now only for the quiz games. Much of the same can be said about PBS.

    Reply
  2. Darren

    The act of being Liberal means the ability to go against the Normal way things are done.
    Stated as: relating to or denoting a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.

    People do not realize by taking the rights of people away, ( Trump as Example ) as the Democrat’s have done
    goes against its very foundation!

    But you do not have to smart to be Liberal!

    Reply

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