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“Whistleblower” publishes damning indictment of NPR’s for having ‘lost the public’s trust”

by | Apr 11, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

As of 4:30 Thursday afternoon, NPR senior business editor Uri Berliner still has his job…. I think. Who would have thought that a headline on its own website would defensively blare, “NPR defends its journalism after senior editor says it has lost the public’s trust.”

It’s been just a couple of days since Berliner unloaded on NPR, the very epitome of smug, arrogant, liberal journalism. Even CNN conceded that the article which appeared at Bari Weiss’s website The Free Press “pointedly critiqued the publicly funded outlet and portrayed it as an institution that has descended into the depths of wokeism.” In a word, “the network finds itself under siege.”

And deservedly so.

A personal aside. I remember when we first came to NRLC in 1981, my wife went on the Diane Rehm radio show. She was up against two pro-abortionists with Rehm pitching in to help them when they couldn’t refute my wife’s arguments.

Three against one. That’s NPR’s idea of “balanced” journalism. Another pro-abort or two—more “balance”—and they might have been able to hold down the fort.

Back to the essay where Berliner said that defunding NPR “is not the answer.” What is the answer is not entirely clear.

Oliver Darcy wrote the CNN story. After bashing former President Trump for bashing NPR [NPR is a “LIBERAL DISINFORMATION MACHINE”], he conceded that Berliner have provided plenty of ammunition for NPR critics:

While Berliner is not entirely on board with how his essay is being interpreted by Trump and his MAGA Media allies, the piece did validate a number of complaints the right has had about NPR and the press at large. Berliner ridiculed the outlet’s coverage of “Russiagate,” the Covid-19 lab-leak theory and the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story. And he used his complaints about how those individual stories were covered by his colleagues to draw a sweeping conclusion. NPR, he asserted, had “lost America’s trust” by embracing a “progressive worldview,” rejecting “viewpoint diversity,” and “telling listeners how to think.”

Berliner is no “right winger,” but he does believe NPR has lost its way. As evidence, he offers this telling statistic:

Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal.

 

By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals. 

The composition of the staff was even more lopsided. “In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None.”

He presented his findings at an all-hands editorial staff meeting.” Response?

The response wasn’t hostile. It was worse. It was met with profound indifference. I got a few messages from surprised, curious colleagues. But the messages were of the “oh wow, that’s weird” variety, as if the lopsided tally was a random anomaly rather than a critical failure of our diversity North Star.

I mentioned that NPR did have David Folkenflik write a piece touting their inclusivity and broadmindedness:

NPR’s chief news executive, Edith Chapin, wrote in a memo to staff Tuesday afternoon that she and the news leadership team strongly reject Berliner’s assessment.

 

“We’re proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories,” she wrote. “We believe that inclusion — among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage — is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world.”

NPR staff, not surprisingly, rose up in righteous anger. But Jeffrey Dvorkin, former NPR vice president for news and ombudsman, tweeted, “’I know Uri. He’s not wrong.’”

What about the response? Can we expect something to be done about one-sided coverage, the almost complete absence of “viewpoint diversity”? Here’s how Folkenflik ends his story:

 A network spokesperson says new NPR CEO Katherine Maher supports Chapin and her response to Berliner’s critique.

 

The spokesperson says that Maher “believes that it’s a healthy thing for a public service newsroom to engage in rigorous consideration of the needs of our audiences, including where we serve our mission well and where we can serve it better.”

I’d bet nothing changes.

Categories: Media Bias