- Thursday, April 11, 2024

Bashing National Public Radio’s leftward bias is a favorite pastime of conservatives, especially since it is funded by taxpayer money, but critics received a boost this week from an unlikely source.

Uri Berliner, a 25-year veteran of NPR who is now a senior business editor there, published a lengthy essay this week that was remarkable because it absolutely blasted his employer’s approach to journalism. It was such a complete takedown that I found myself marveling, “He wrote this while he still works there?”

My next question was, “Will it do any good?”

Mr. Berliner described NPR as a place where racial and other types of diversity matter a great deal, but hearing from differing viewpoints does not. After seeing how the newsroom handled itself after Donald Trump’s political rise, he examined the voter registration of his fellow editors in NPR’s Washington headquarters: 87-0.

That’s what he found. Eighty-seven registered Democrats and no Republicans. None.

He described how NPR became obsessed with interviewing Trump opponents, like California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who appeared on their airwaves at least 25 times to lie about the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia, which was never true.

Mr. Berliner lamented the infamous NPR response to the Hunter Biden laptop story, which was, “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories.”

But the laptop was real, and NPR didn’t care.

Then there was COVID-19 coverage, which included the debate over where the virus had originated — either in nature or through a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China.

NPR sided with natural origin and dismissed the lab leak theory as a “racist or a right-wing conspiracy theory” that had been “debunked by scientists,” wrote Mr. Berliner, even though none of that was true either.

Getting these major stories wrong was bad enough, but the reaction from the NPR brass bothered him.

“What’s worse is to pretend it never happened, to move on with no mea culpas, no self-reflection,” he wrote.

According to Mr. Berliner, there was no time for that when diversity was their real “North Star.”

“Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace,” he wrote, even to the point of mandating that the “race, gender, and ethnicity” of interview subjects be tracked.

But again, there was no concern about diversity of thought.

He described NPR staff as aghast at Mr. Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 and said their coverage of the administration “veered toward efforts to damage or topple Trump’s presidency.”

That’s not a news organization. That’s a political operation.

It should also be noted that Mr. Berliner is hardly a closeted conservative working from within NPR. He described himself as a liberally educated Subaru driver who voted against Mr. Trump twice and was raised by a lesbian peace activist mother.

“I fit the NPR mold,” he wrote.

You would think that the suits at NPR would take a moment to consider these criticisms from their own senior staffer, but that would require self-awareness, of which most leftists have none.

In a comical memo to staff responding to Mr. Berliner’s essay, NPR editor-in-chief Edith Chapin wrote, “Rigorous debate and self-examination are necessary parts of our pursuit of the facts.”

What “rigorous debate” can there be when opposing points of view don’t exist?

“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,” Ms. Chapin wrote.

But there is no inclusion because there are no Republicans at all.

“It’s why we track sources — so we can expand the diversity of perspectives in our reporting,” she continued, exposing her belief that as long as they’re keeping track of skin pigmentation, everything is fine at NPR.

Ms. Chapin then felt compelled to claim that NPR is less bad than other biased outlets.

“Let’s not forget that the reason we remain one of the most trusted news organizations in the country is that we respect people’s ability to form their own judgments,” she wrote.

As Mr. Berliner pointed out, however, pride in the “most trusted” label is a joke because it relies on a Harris Poll showing that 3 in-\ 10 listeners consider NPR “trustworthy.” Granted, that was higher than CNN or The New York Times, but still, a 30% approval rating is something even President Biden can look down on.

Also, for people to “form their own judgments,” it would be good to tell them the whole story first, which NPR does not do.

The conclusion here is inescapable. If NPR truly wants to continue operating as a leftist echo chamber, it is welcome to do so, but it should be without our tax dollars.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist, communications consultant, co-host of the “Line Drive Podcast,” and the author of the Amazon bestselling book “Swing Hard in Case You Hit It: My Escape From Addiction and Shot at Redemption on the Trump Campaign.”

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