NPR's Gary Knell Steps Down After Only 20 Months as Head of 'Beacon of Journalistic Integrity'

August 21st, 2013 2:13 PM

When Gary Knell became the chief executive officer of National Public Radio in December of 2011, his goal was to “calm the waters” after the publicly funded network had endured two high-profile scandals: the firing of Juan Williams and the video of a fund-raising executive slamming the Republican Party as “seriously racist, racist people” while accepting donations from a group that was purportedly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

But on Monday, 20 months later, Knell announced his decision to join the National Geographic Society as its president and CEO, even though that meant leaving NPR, which he said "is and will always be a beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment, and courage,” a claim NewsBusters has repeatedly demonstrated as false.

In a message to the surprised network staff, Knell stated: “Before I even started at NPR, I had huge respect for this organization.”

Seven days a week, around the clock, NPR is “on the story” no matter where it happens. That's because of what each of you make happen.

“Working together, we have put NPR on more solid footing to continue to deliver the highest-quality journalism and programming,” he continued. “We also face challenges, including the mandate to bring NPR to break-even cash operations.”

In the upheaval of today's media environment, you offer something few other media companies can. NPR is and will always be a beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment, and courage. We do what we do so that we can serve our audiences and give them what they need to be informed and connected with their communities, their country, and the world we live in.

Nevertheless, Knell noted that he was approached by the National Geographic Society and “offered an opportunity that, after discussions with my family, I could not turn down."

Also on Monday, the channel's media correspondent, David Folkenflik, stated that when Knell arrived on the scene as the seventh president in seven years, “there was a sense that NPR was being "led by grownups who were working constructively in a shared direction."

Kit Jensen, chair of the organization's board, added that the directors have been "absolutely thrilled and pleased" with Knell's performance as CEO of the network, which distributes news, information and music programming to 975 public radio stations, reaching 27 million listeners a week.

“Gary and the management team have worked effectively to strengthen NPR as a world-class media organization, technological innovator and industry leader” by “building a firm foundation for providing the highest-quality journalism and programming.”

However, many postings on the NewsBusters website have shown that the publicly funded radio outlet almost always leans hard to the left in its reporting.

Just yesterday, Cokie Roberts criticized as "a little bit childish" the GOP's debate ban of CNN and NBC because the two networks have announced they're preparing documentaries about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton that might be aired during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

A few days earlier, NPR reporters fondly remembered Jack Germond, a liberal panelist on The McLaughlin Group who had recently passed away, but when conservative Robert Novak died in August of 2009, he was described as a man whose “reputation was damaged by the Valerie Plame leak case.”

In mid-July, after using a “biased boilerplate” to assert that “White Hispanic” George Zimmerman unnecessarily shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, NPR reporters unanimously swooned over President Barack Obama's speech on the second-degree murder trial as “spontaneous” and “stunning.”

Another favorite target of the channel is Christianity. Also in mid-July, NPR promoted “totally biased” Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu, who mocked the biblical basis for “homophobia” after the network also boosted Reza Aslan, an editor of the Daily Beast website who wrote a book that falsely asserts Jesus didn't claim to be the Messiah.

Of course, there are hundreds more examples of the network's liberal bias elsewhere on the NewsBusters site, which you can find by clicking on this link.

The next NPR president should consider if his/her organization is truly representing the public by being so overwhelmingly biased toward just one side of the political spectrum.