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The NPR Miasma

National Public Radio was in the news this month. One of their senior editors, a man named Uri Berliner, who had been employed by NPR for 25 years, had seen some troubling things at the media outlet. Now, I should say that Uri Berliner is no Conservative. He’s been a Democrat-voting liberal all of his adult life. He has all the bona fides of a typical, card-carrying Progressive: hates Trump; voted for Obama – twice – and Biden; hates Fox News; believes strongly in same-sex marriage; believes abortion involves nothing more than a women’s right to choose; doesn’t believe in Christianity; mother was a lesbian activist; he attended Sarah Lawrence College which is among the most Left of the Leftist colleges, etc. So there should be no disparaging claims that the man is a Conservative in any sense.

But he is also a man of integrity, and he wasn’t afraid to speak out at what he noticed happening at NPR.

So what did he claim to have seen?

In an April 9th, 2024 article he wrote for The Free Press, he expressed the view (correctly) that America has lost its trust for NPR because NPR has “coalesced around the progressive worldview” and “an open-minded spirit no loner exists within NPR.” What he was saying was that NPR only allows a single point of view to be aired: a hard-left point of view. No dissent is allowed. Conservative viewpoints are altogether shunned when they are not being openly mocked. (You can read his essay by clicking here.

With programs such as Morning Edition, Up First, Planet Money, Morning Becomes Eclectic, and, (gasp!) All Things Considered (said with a straight face) NPR at one time appealed to many different demographics, even if they historically had a Left-wing tilt. But in recent years, they abandoned any sense of balance and went hard-Left all the way.

If you doubt me, consider the fact that I spent quite a few hours this week listening to NPR on my car radio as I drove back to Arizona from a road trip I took to Utah. As long as I had signal, I had NPR on. And what, pray-tell, was I treated to during that drive? Let’s see:

  • 3 Left-wing activists talking about sustaining the species, and, . . . climate change.
  • Two left-wing activists giving their perspectives on homelessness, with favoritism (i.e., more air time) given to the activist that basically favored allowing homelessness to continue to fester and spiral out of control even further.
  • A story on truck emissions in Chicago’s south side affecting marginalized Latino communities.
  • A climate activist talking about “heat and climate change.”
  • An activist who believes black women have to work far more each week than white men.
  • A very lengthy interview with Ari Berman, author of Minority Rule, who is a voting rights activist at the far-left Mother Jones, who spent his time attacking supreme court justices who are conservative as well as attacking white men in general, and who fretted about abortion rights (which he is in favor of) and gun rights (which he is not), and who also worried about the excesses of democracy. He also claimed the Founding Fathers were in favor of bigger government (untrue) and that the Founding Fathers did not like Democracy (also untrue). Further, he spent an inordinate amount of time attacking the validity of the U.S. Constitution, a document he clearly does not like. What else? He said Republicans are evil and sneaky, he hates Donald Trump, and that he believes undemocratic Republicans wish to do yet another ‘insurrection” and that if Trump is reelected, democracy as we know it will be gone forever. And that Trump will weaponize the federal government (evidently unaware that Biden already has). Finally, he said he wanted to enshrine abortion rights and make recreational marijuana legal at the federal level.
  • Another story during my drive focused on an all-out character assassination on Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • This was followed by another left-wing presentation on global warming by Julien Nicholas.
  • Next, I was treated to a program suggesting that America is racist because our nation’s capital does not provide Chinese restaurants in Chinese-dominant neighborhoods – as if it Washington DC’s responsibility, and not an entrepreneur, to do so.
  • And finally, I listened to an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian story regarding the alleged shutting down of freedom of speech of those who are pro-Palestinian. They only aired the views of a self-described “Leftist” (their word) Jewish spokesman.

Notice anything about those programs? I do: every single one of them were about Left-wing concerns presented by Left-wing activists. Nary a conservative viewpoint in sight.

This is what Uri Berline was drawing attention to. He went on to point out that in 2011, 37% of NPRs listing audience described themselves as liberal, while in 2023, 67% made that claim.

“All things considered”?

Even though Mr. Berliner has no love for Trump whatsoever, he claimed in his essay that at NPR, people who worked there actively wanted to topple Trump’s presidency, while Mr. Berliner felt that as journalists, they must report fairly – even on Mr. Trump. Berliner claims that he saw first hand how NPR simply believed in the Russia-Collusion Hoax and bought into everything Senator Adam Schiff had to say about it, even when it was obvious Schiff was making thing up and lying blatantly. NPR never once apologized or retracted anything of the many falsehoods they had made on the Russia-Collusion Hoax. They just pretended it never happened.

Same thing with the Hunter Biden laptop story, which broke in October 2020 by the New York Post. NPR ignored the story. Berliner claims that at a meeting at NPR, one of their most experienced journalists said it was good that NPR was ignoring the Hunter Biden laptop story because covering it could help Donald Trump. That is outrageous, but predictable. But once again, like the Russia-Collusion Hoax, once it was proved that the Hunter Biden Laptop was legitimate and damaging to the Bidens, NPR pretended nothing had happened: no corrections, no updates, nothing.

Berliner gave other examples of dishonest reporting (i.e., Left-wing reporting) citing examples such as their coverage on Covid and its origins (i.e., the lab leak theory). Other stories followed the same Left-wing path, whether it had to do with the death of George Floyd, systemic racism in America, white privilege, diversity, identity politics – all of these matters were bought into uncritically, with a hard-left ideology. NRP became as Leftist as Mother Jones, or Slate, or MSNBC – and perhaps even more so (which is perfectly fine, but denying it not fine).

Is it noteworthy that NPR’s newsroom is staffed by 87 Democrats? Well, how many Republicans work there? Zero.

Was Mr. Berliner having a personal identity crisis? Was he making this stuff up?  He ended up getting a 5-day suspension without pay and given a “final warning.”  He resigned.

Berliner was not a lone voice in liberal circles. Juan Williams, who is a committed liberal who used to work at NPR, voiced essentially the same views following the publication of Berliner’s essay. Williams said: “an open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR… [that is] devastating both for its journalism and its business model.” He went on to say: “I don’t think I’m any wild-eyed conservative, but they thought I was too conservative a Black guy for their kind of company. Not only did they fire me — they called me a psycho. I mean, they said horrible things about me quite publicly. So, no, it doesn’t surprise me what [Berliner] had to say. So they are a very much an insulated cadre of people who think they’re right, and they have a hard time with people who are different.”

How did NPR react to Berliner’s essay? Was there any self-reflection? Any pause to consider what Berliner had to say?

Nope, not one bit. They suspended him, without pay, and told him this was his “final warning.” He opted to resign rather that be subjected to the harassment he knew he would be facing upon his return.

What I find particularly galling about this story is how their new CEO handled things. Katherine Maher appeared at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and was interview by Carnegie Senior Fellow Jon Bateman. In reference to Berliner’s claims, Maher was asked: “Is that kind of diversity something that you track or should track internally, or how do you get a handle on whether those things are actually happening or not?”

Great question. Fair question. What did Maher say? Here is her answer. See if you think she actually replied to the question that was posed.

I think that’s reflected in the stories, right? I think that’s reflected in what is the audience that we serve and how much value do they get out of our work. Tracking individual viewpoints – I mean, this is the thing about journalism is that, of course, people come from all sorts of backgrounds. They have different lived experiences, but they come to the table to do the work and uphold journalistic ethics and integrity. And that means reporting stories based on the facts. That means reporting stories matter. That means ensuring that we’re rigorous with our sourcing. That means ensuring that we are focused on delivering what is accurate and what we know about the world today and then updating it again, right? Because the news is constantly changing and we’re going to constantly need to follow those stories to make sure that we’re really doing it well.

She didn’t answer the question. She dodged it entirely. It was a non-answer. It was gobbledygook. The question was, at its core: “Is Berliner correct that NPR doesn’t embrace diversity of viewpoints, but only left-wing viewpoints?” And her answer basically was this: “NPR does really great journalism.”

But I think Ms. Maher realized she had not answered the question she had been asked. So she tried again with this:

Now that is what the most important work of journalism actually is. Are we covering the stories from a wide enough variety of perspectives? Is it reflected in how well the audience feels served? Do we have a wide enough audience that is representative of our nation? And so that, I think, is the priority and that’s actually the way that we should be thinking about this.

Yes, Ms. Maher, you and your entire team should be thinking about diverse perspectives. But you don’t and they don’t – and won’t.

But here is the kicker, one of the all-time greatest examples of journalistic dishonesty. Maher said this:

I think another piece of that is making sure we have active and robust debate in the newsroom from a wide variety of perspectives so that those conversations are being had. Again, that is something that is a newsroom leadership imperative. But giving people the ability to feel as though, that those conversations are welcomed, is creating a culture where those conversations are welcomed. Those are incredibly important priorities for us in order to be of service to the widest number of people.

Utter, total Kabuki Theater. Complete fabrication. Those conversations are not welcomed. The only debates that take place there is when one Leftist is trying to “out-left” another Leftist.

And that is why NPR lost a first-rate member of their team. He saw through the dishonesty and disingenuousness of the rot that had become “All Left-Wing Things Considered.” And NPR’s ratings (not to mention their federal funding) are probably going to take a hit.

And deservedly so.

And that, my friends, is the latest elephant in the room.

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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