Embarrassing: NPR Insists a Gateway for Russian Hackers No Longer Underwrites NPR

Liz Harrington at the Washington Free Beacon reports that NPR isn't as hostile to Russian hacking as other liberal media outlets. They told the Free Beacon that the Moscow-based software company Kaspersky Lab, which was used by hackers to steal classified documents from the National Security Agency, is no longer one of its corporate underwriters.

Russian hackers have been using Kaspersky Lab antivirus software as a gateway for hacking, including a home computer used by an NSA employee. The company denied any involvement with the NSA hack and said it "does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia."

"Kaspersky Labs has been a sponsor of NPR for several years, but are no longer a current sponsor," said Isabel Lara, an NPR spokesperson.

Lara said the corporate sponsorship did not end abruptly.

"The prior funding ended earlier this month and the credit schedule ran its course," she said.

NPR stations were still airing funding sponsor ads for Kaspersky on Wednesday morning, touting the Moscow company as a protector against "cyber theft" and "online threats."

"Support for NPR comes from … Kaspersky Lab internet security," the NPR narrator said. "Giving 400 million users the power to protect their money, privacy, computers, and mobile devices from cyber theft viruses and other online threats. Learn more at Kaspersky.com."

But wait, Harrington's report gets better (or worse, if you're NPR). Naturally, the NPR flack will inevitably insist that this advertiser in no way affects the journalistic content in their programs. Or....maybe it does. 

"It is also important to understand that funding from corporate sponsors and philanthropic donors is separate from the editorial decision making process in NPR's newsroom," she said. "Our editors make their own choices about what stories to cover and how to report them."

Lara added that NPR journalists are "trained in the ethics and practices of journalism which prevent outside groups from influencing their objectivity, story selection, and reporting."

In January, during an interview with a cybersecurity expert, NPR host David Greene praised Kaspersky and suggested that the idea of Russia hacking the Democratic National Committee could be a "false flag."

"I mean, another major cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, very respected—we should mention Kaspersky is an NPR funder, and we do work with them on our computers," Greene told Matt Tait, a British cybersecurity expert. "But they said that there can be false flags. There can be a lack of reliable metrics."

"And Americans have gone through a situation with the Iraq War where there was talk of weapons of mass destruction," Greene continued. "The intelligence community was—their credibility was really called into question after that. But a president took this nation to war based on intelligence. I mean, are you absolutely certain here, or could we find later on down the road that there was some amazing hacker out there who was able to pull this off and make it look like Russia?"

Tait said it was not credible that the hacks were false flags....

NPR has also covered stories about the company under scrutiny, which included statements from intelligence community leaders saying they would not use Kaspersky software. It also covered the software being banned from U.S. federal agencies.

This is hardly the first time NPR has mixed journalism with its underwriting. A more flagrantly partisan case emerged last year, when AP reported that the Ploughshares Fund, a group the Obama White House revealed was helping them advocate for the Iran nuclear deal, gave NPR $100,000 for....reporting on the Iran nuclear deal. 


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