Staffer’s broadside has NPR in turmoil: Trump demands end of funding

by WorldTribune Staff, April 12, 2024

Former President Donald Trump said not one more dollar of public funds should be going to National Public Radio (NPR) after a bombshell essay by a long-time editor at the taxpayer-subsidized network said it should “stop telling the public how to think.”

“With declining ratings, sorry levels of trust, and an audience that has become less diverse over time, the trajectory for NPR is not promising. Two paths seem clear. We can keep doing what we’re doing, hoping it will all work out. Or we could start over, with the basic building blocks of journalism. We could face up to where we’ve gone wrong,” 25-year NPR veteran Uri Berliner wrote in an essay published by the Free Press and commentary on the popular podcast Honestly with Bari Weiss.


On April 11, The New York Times reported “internal tumult” had erupted within NPR’s editorial ranks and leadership.

“Mr. Berliner’s essay also sent critical Slack messages whizzing through some of the same employee affinity groups focused on racial and sexual identity that he cited in his essay. In one group, several staff members disputed Mr. Berliner’s points about a lack of ideological diversity,” The Times said.

Berliner criticized NPR for allowing Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to be an “ever-present muse” during Russiagate and said he “listened as one of NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the [Hunter Biden] laptop story because it could help Trump.”

He also noted that NPR had made diversity its “North Star.” But he looked up the party registration of staffers at NPR and found that 87 were Democrats and zero were Republicans. “It was met with profound indifference.”

NPR editor-in-chief Edith Chapin reportedly sent out a memo on April 9 saying that her leadership team “strongly disagree” with Berliner and are “proud to stand behind the exceptional work” of their journalists.

Berliner challenged NPR to diversify its views, sources, reporters, and stories or continue to fail by producing news for liberals by liberals.

The NPR editor, who as of press time remains at the network, detailed how leadership at the outlet justified their misleading reporting on Trump-Russia and their lack of reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop.

“It is one thing to swing and miss on a major story. Unfortunately, it happens. You follow the wrong leads, you get misled by sources you trusted, you’re emotionally invested in a narrative, and bits of circumstantial evidence never add up. It’s bad to blow a big story,” Berliner wrote.

“What’s worse is to pretend it never happened, to move on with no mea culpas, no self-reflection. Especially when you expect high standards of transparency from public figures and institutions, but don’t practice those standards yourself. That’s what shatters trust and engenders cynicism about the media.”

Russiagate was not NPR’s only failure.

In October 2020, the New York Post published the explosive report about the laptop Hunter Biden abandoned at a Delaware computer shop containing emails about his sordid business dealings. With the election only weeks away, NPR turned a blind eye. Here’s how NPR’s managing editor for news at the time explained the thinking: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”

But it wasn’t a pure distraction, or a product of Russian disinformation, as dozens of former and current intelligence officials suggested. The laptop did belong to Hunter Biden. Its contents revealed his connection to the corrupt world of multimillion-dollar influence peddling and its possible implications for his father.

Related: Part 3: ‘Tip of the FBI spear’ managed the 2020 ‘assessment’ of the Biden laptop, March 25, 2022

“The laptop was newsworthy. But the timeless journalistic instinct of following a hot story lead was being squelched. During a meeting with colleagues, I listened as one of NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the laptop story because it could help Trump,” Berliner wrote.

“When the essential facts of the Post’s reporting were confirmed and the emails verified independently about a year and a half later, we could have fessed up to our misjudgment. But, like Russia collusion, we didn’t make the hard choice of transparency.”

NPR’s leadership also went deep down the woke rabbit hole and started to emphasize race and diversity as the “north star,” Berliner said.

“Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace. Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity (among other questions), and had to enter it in a centralized tracking system. We were given unconscious bias training sessions. A growing DEI staff offered regular meetings imploring us to ‘start talking about race.’ Monthly dialogues were offered for ‘women of color’ and ‘men of color.’ Nonbinary people of color were included, too.

“These initiatives, bolstered by a $1 million grant from the NPR Foundation, came from management, from the top down. Crucially, they were in sync culturally with what was happening at the grassroots — among producers, reporters, and other staffers. Most visible was a burgeoning number of employee resource (or affinity) groups based on identity,” he wrote.

Honor their memory: The ‘shot heard round the world’

Apparently, Berliner’s message “didn’t get through,” to Chapin, noted David Mastio, a regional editor for The Center Square. “Not a word on why her staffers self-segregate by racial, sexual and gender identity to homogenize coverage. Not a word on why they don’t hire conservatives for journalists’ jobs and many conservatives won’t even talk to them.

Mastio added: “The results are clear: As with much of the rest of the woke traditional press, trust from the public is cratering. NPR brags that one in three Americans believes what he or she hears from WAMU in the East to KQED in the West. Never mind those two out of three who don’t trust what their tax dollars pay for.”

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