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“Whistleblower” resigns eight days after publishing a scathing indictment of NPR’s for having ‘lost the public’s trust”

by | Apr 17, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

It took a whole eight days but the storm created by an NPR senior editor’s blunt  3,500-word essay, titled “I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust” culminated today with the resignation of Uri Berliner.

According to David FolkenflikNPR’s media correspondent, Berliner send an email to the new CEO Katherine Maher which read in part

“I am resigning from NPR, a great American institution where I have worked for 25 years. I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism. But I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay.”

Berliner is no “right winger.” He is a self-described anti-Trump liberal. 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. 

On Thursday, Berliner was suspended for five days and given a “final warning” that he would be fired if he violated NPR’s policy of seeking approval before doing “outside work” for other news platforms. “Its formal rebuke noted he had done work outside NPR without its permission, as is required, and shared proprietary information,” Folkenflik wrote.

The irony of all this the comes in layers. Berliner published his essay in The Free Press, an online site started by Bari Weiss, who herself resigned from the New York Times in 2022, criticizing the Times for capitulating to criticism on Twitter and for not defending her against alleged bullying by her colleagues.

NPR, of course, insisted that Berliner’s

critique has inspired anger and dismay within the network. Some colleagues said they could no longer trust him after he chose to publicize such concerns rather than pursue them as part of ongoing newsroom debates, as is customary.

Privately some colleagues agreed with Berliner but most were no longer with NPR. Jeffrey Dvorkin, former NPR vice president for news and ombudsman, tweeted, “I know Uri. He’s not wrong.”

Folkenflik wrote about a brief interview Berliner gave him in which

he condemned a statement Maher issued Friday in which she suggested that he had questioned “whether our people are serving our mission with integrity, based on little more than the recognition of their identity.” She called that “profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.”

 

Berliner subsequently exchanged emails with Maher, but she did not address those comments.

 

“It’s been building up,” Berliner said of his decision to resign, “and it became clear it was on today.”

Finally, prior to Berliner’s resignation, a former NPR colleague of Berliner’s told Fox News Digital that his essay will prompt a

“long overdue corrective” for the organization to be more “intellectually open and generous” to conservatives, pointing to the new monthly meetings that are being implemented, according to a memo to staff by NPR CEO Katherine Maher.

Talk about failure to read the room. That assessment has proven to be about as wrong as it is possible to be.

Categories: Media Bias