Media

NPR Callout: The Definitive Rebuke Of State-Supported Media

A rare moment of truth from the Fourth Estate …

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My media outlet has never thought much of National Public Radio (NPR). While not necessarily “state media,” it is nonetheless heavily subsidized by the government – although, increasingly, news consumers are bypassing the local affiliates that keep it in business via taxpayer-funded grants.

Created by an act of Congress in 1967, NPR first hit the airwaves in 1971 – empowered by statutory language which required the “licensees and permittees” of public radio stations to route nearly a quarter of the “community service grants” they receive toward the “purchase” of NPR programming.

How’s that for a free media market?

To quote a former leader of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) – the entity which doles out these grants – the funding model of NPR affiliates “requires them to buy national programming that one can get freely on a phone.”

Absent these market-distorting subsidies, NPR would cease to exist …

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According to one of its veteran reporters, that might not be such a bad thing. At least not so long as NPR continues down its present path. Earlier this week, NPR business writer Uri Berliner penned a damning manifesto of the current iteration of the network – accusing it of abandoning its “open-minded, curious culture” in favor of “knee-jerk, activist … scolding” commentary.

Or, as he called it, cranking out coverage which reflected “the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.”

“An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America,” Berliner wrote.

In charting NPR’s demise, Berliner courageously called out its enthusiastic embrace of conspiracy theories involving former U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian intelligence assets (which turned out to be false) as well as its suppression of news about a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of U.S. president Joe Biden (which turned out to be true).

To be clear, Berliner voted against Trump (twice) and referred to him as “a belligerent, truth-impaired president.” But to him, it wasn’t about what he or anyone else at the network thought about Trump – it was about how a pervasive hatred of him impaired NPR’s ability to do its job, infected its coverage with increasingly overt biases and, predictably, eroded public trust in the outlet.

“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 noted.

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Berliner also called NPR out for failing to acknowledge the truth about the man-made origins of the Covid-19 virus, noting that “politics were blotting out the curiosity and independence that ought to have been driving our work.”

In discussing NPR’s coverage of the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, Berliner noted how the incident “would have been an ideal moment to tackle a difficult question: Is America, as progressive activists claim, beset by systemic racism in the 2020s—in law enforcement, education, housing, and elsewhere?”

Unfortunately, “the message from the top was very different. America’s infestation with systemic racism was declared loud and clear: it was a given. Our mission was to change it.”

“Diversity” became the network’s new “North Star,” Berliner wrote, although unquestioned allegiance to woke herd-think (which Berliner charitably describes as “the progressive worldview”) soon created what he termed “the absence of viewpoint diversity” at NPR. Which, of course, has contributed mightily to the collapse of its audience – including plummeting ratings among the very demographics to which it shamelessly and opportunistically pandered.

Using assembly line imagery alongside terms like “frictionless” and “comfortably coalesced,” Berliner described how this once-credible news organization shifted into a hive-minded progressive propaganda outfit intent on selecting, shaping and churning out stories which conformed to a preexisting worldview.

Mass-produced ideological confirmation bias, if you will …

“Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity, I looked at voter registration for our newsroom,” Berliner wrote. “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.”


Obviously, partisan identification is not the ideological barometer it once was (certainly not as it relates to fiscal matters), but that’s as lopsided a tally as you are ever going to find.

Berliner expressed hope at the conclusion of his column that new NPR chief executive officer Katherine Maher might turn things around, but those hopes appeared to be dashed when Maher put out an internal memo accusing him of attacking not only “the quality of our editorial process and the integrity of our journalists” but also “our people on the basis of who we are.”

Maher declined to address Berliner’s allegations of bias and lack of viewpoint diversity, incidentally, instead rebuking his commentary as “profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.”

Look, I get it. We are navigating a brave new media world. As conservative commentator Jonathan Turley noted in his response to all this, “the media market has changed with consumer demands in favor of more opinion in coverage.” My media outlet is clearly a part of that shift, too – although we don’t use your tax dollars to share our opinions (or use tax dollars taken from your children and grandchildren in the form of unsustainable deficit spending). Also, unlike NPR we also keep an open mind – and maintain an open microphone for anyone with an intelligent take on any issue. Even if that take is hyper-critical of us or our coverage.

Whatever our opinions may be – as individuals or as media institutions – the ultimate “North Star” in this business has always been the truth. And when a media outlet misses the mark in truth-telling as spectacularly as NPR has in recent years – and refuses to hold itself accountable – well, it deserves precisely the sort of comeuppance Berliner delivered.

More to the point, though, it deserves to lose its statutory subsidization …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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7 comments

Echoes Lover April 15, 2024 at 4:11 pm

If there were no NPR, who would carry the excellent “Echoes” music program late at night?

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The Colonel Top fan April 15, 2024 at 6:31 pm

NPR, the ultimate echo chamber. The very foundation of the “educational broadcast” system in the US is steeped in socialism – designed to chose winners and losers (like Ford via the Ford Foundation) and indoctrinate children in the collective ideology. Fortunately, with the exception of Rick Steves, This Old House and some imported British television, no one watches that crap anyway.

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What the Right Calls Indoctrination April 16, 2024 at 8:18 am

“Sharing is caring!” -Karl Marx, probably.

“Don’t be a litterbug!” -Mao Zedong, maybe.

“Play nice with your friends!” -Vladimir Lenin, most likely.

“One… Ah! Ah! Ah! Two… Ah! Ah! Ah!” -Friedrich Engels, I’m sure.

“Won’t you be my neighbor?” -Peter Kropotkin, gotta be.

Reply
Nanker Phelge April 15, 2024 at 9:42 pm

Have you paid back your PPP loan Willie?

Reply
Welfare King April 16, 2024 at 8:13 am

First In The South to apply for gubmint cheese.

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Anonymous Top fan April 16, 2024 at 7:45 am

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a board with a mixture of political backgrounds. The Chair and Vice Chair along with several members were appointed by Trump.
The nonprofit has been notoriously targeted by President Nixon. And now it appears to be targeted again.
I listen to NPR for hours on my ear protecting headphones as I drive my tractor. I enjoy the unbiased news and guest interviews. And of course the music.
I hope CPB can survive.

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Thomas April 17, 2024 at 4:00 pm

OMG, you people are so absurd about socialism in America. The US is the least socialist nation in the first world, and where has our socialist paranoia gotten us?

1. Are Americans the richest people per capita in the world? No.
2. Are Americans the happiest people in the world? No.
3. Are Americans the healthiest people in the world? No.
4. Do we live the longest? No
5. Are Americans the most educated people in the world? No.
6. Is wealth more widely disbursed among the people of the US than most other countries? No.
7. Do we have lower deficits than most other Countries? No.
8. I know, we are the best country in the world for Business, right? Again, No. According to Forbes, we are No. 17 and every country ahead of us is more socialistic than we are.
9. Are our politicians less corrupt than in more socialist countries? Hell, No.

So what are we trying to achieve? Do we have goals? I know the Republicans right now, love what is going on in Russia and Hungary. Strong man dictators are all the rage amongst the GOP A-listers. Is that what we want to be? I am at a total loss here.

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