John Williams


Latest from John Williams

No, NPR didn't accidentally air the paranormal-themed radio show Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (heir to Art Bell's show) on Sunday morning. Instead, it was a credulous interview of psychiatrist Jim Tucker by NPR host Rachel Martin about the supposed science of reincarnation.

And given NPR's classification of the piece as a science piece, their vaunted Science Desk dutifully tweeted "Searching for Science Behind Reincarnation."



Taxpayer-subsidized NPR has a headline problem that won’t go away. As biased as much of its reporting is, NPR’s headline writers often appear to think that there is not enough bias. Sometimes they even write headlines that aren’t supported anywhere in the corresponding report. Even though there has been a history of headline problems at NPR recently, it appears that the headlines go out without being first checked by someone else.

On July 30, NPR congressional reporter Tamara Keith did a fair piece on Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups (see Newsbusters post on it). That piece initially appeared only online with the headline, “Report: IRS Scrutiny Worse For Conservatives." In what looks to be an updated on-air version of the same story the next day , an NPR headline writer changed the initially accurate headline to one unsupported by the piece: “House Republicans Work To Keep IRS Scandal In The Spotlight.”



On July 27, 2013, former Democratic congresswoman Lindy Boggs died at the age of 97. She achieved a number of firsts in her career, including being the first woman to serve in Congress from Louisiana and the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican for Bill Clinton.

She was also known for strongly championing a number of causes. One of those causes was opposition to abortion. NPR aired four pieces after Boggs’ death that remembered her, mentioning just about every major achievement and cause of Boggs—except her commitment to fighting abortion and the resulting significant impact that stand had on her career.



NPR loves to label individuals and groups—but not all the time. They usually want listeners to know who Republicans are, as they did incessantly last year with GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin. A piece about the North Carolina General Assembly righting an old wrong on the July 25 All Things Considered evening news show took a different approach, with reporter Julie Rose entirely omitting party designations.

North Carolina, like many other states, had an involuntary eugenics-based sterilization program for most of the 1900s. The program finally stopped in 1974. In the four intervening decades, the state did nothing to compensate victims. Last week, that changed with the passage of a bill establishing a fund for victims.



White liberals often arrogantly see themselves as more qualified to know how blacks should behave politically than blacks who are conservative. Bill Moyers is one such white liberal—a white liberal who has become wealthy by leveraging taxpayer-subsidized public television.

While Clarence Thomas was facing severe racial discrimination and hostility in the mid- and late-1950s as a black child, white Bill Moyers was working for then-outspoken civil rights opponent Lyndon Johnson. But Moyers thinks his bare-knuckled political experience with LBJ in the White House qualifies him to understand discrimination better than someone who’s lived as a black man for 65 years. Following are Moyers’ comments about the Voting Rights Act and Clarence Thomas in an appearance June 26 on the liberal Colbert Report, followed by the video of Moyers’ appearance (start at 4:18):



As a news organization funded in large part by those on the left and staffed by those on the left, NPR often hews to the priorities of the left in its coverage. Those priorities deem the death of one individual, Trayvon Martin—a black teen killed by a non-black man—to be far more newsworthy than the gruesome deaths of numerous black babies killed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell just after birth.

In the 15 months between Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin and the start of jury selection, NPR aired about 100 pieces dedicated to the issue. Contrast that with the number of pieces NPR aired about Kermit Gosnell in the 36 months between a federal raid on his clinic and the start of jury selection: just 3 pieces. That works out to one piece about every five days for Zimmerman and one piece about every 12 months for Gosnell.



With its frequent overt bias, NPR’s weekend media show On the Media makes NPR’s news magazine shows like Morning Edition appear thoroughly objective by comparison. It is so hopelessly biased that shows to explore the question of whether NPR was biased were themselves overwhelmingly biased. More recently, it deemed the issue of media coverage of butcher Kermit Gosnell’s trial to be too insignificant for any of its nine one-hour shows that occurred after the trial began.

On this past weekend’s show, On the Media aired a segment on the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups. While the segment primarily consisted of a Bob Garfield interview with Michael Calderone, Senior Media Reporter for the Huffington Post, it’s clear the shows’ two co-hosts used the segment as an excuse to ridicule conservatives and conservative websites—Glenn Beck / TheBlaze and Right Side News on this occasion.



One of NPR's top member stations, WHYY in Philadelphia, home of conservative-trashing "Fresh Air" host  Terry Gross, houses a large local news operation. That news operation includes the heavily taxpayer-subsidized Newsworks, which produces a daily 30-minute local newscast for WHYY, Newsworks Tonight.

On Friday’s Newsworks Tonight, Taunya English, health and science reporter for WHYY and Newsworks, actually said this of a man accused of snipping the spinal cords of babies born alive while joking about them, keeping gruesome souvenirs of the babies, and having women give birth to babies in toilets: “a physician who had worked in our community for 30 years, cared for women in all of that time." Contrast this with Newsworks’ headline about the hanging of an elephant 97 years ago in Tennessee: “Horrific case of animal cruelty basis for PIFA's 'Murderous Mary' play.”



As Newsbusters has detailed again and again, coverage by dominant news organizations of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial has been almost non-existent. Taxpayer-subsidized public radio is no exception, even after the issue of non-coverage gained widespread attention last week.

As the fifth week of the Gosnell trial continues (it opened March 18), NPR still has not devoted a single piece to the topic of the trial. It did briefly reference the trial once--in a story about Pennsylvania abortion clinic regulations that resulted from what authorities found in Gosnell's clinic during a raid. On March 28, NPR's afternoon news magazine All Things Considered gave only 19 seconds out of 4 1/2 minutes to reporting on the Gosnell trial. In sharp contrast, the piece's author, Jeff Brady, NPR's Philadelphia-based National Desk Correspondent, gave five times the amount to time to detailing the "expensive" hardships Pennsylvania abortion clinics now have to endure. The story left out entirely the details of the horrendous charges against Gosnell.