For all the wisecracks about "state-run TV" under Trump, the shoe is now on the other foot, and NPR sounds like "state-run radio," or in one case, "Department of State-run radio." On Tuesday's All Things Considered, anchor Mary Louise Kelly interviewed the new Secretary of State. The online headline was "Secretary Of State Blinken Outlines Biden Administration's Foreign Policy Goals."
Just look at this open-ended first question: "If I asked you for one sentence - what is the goal of U.S. foreign policy under this administration, the mission statement - what would that sentence be?" We suddenly returned to that chummy vibe of a series of Obama interviews with NPR morning anchor Steve Inskeep.
Kelly asked Blinken a series of questions implying the Capitol riot and the Trump team in general ruined America's moral standing in the world:
You just mentioned values, advancing American values around the world. Is that more difficult when they are under siege here at home?
When you said it has made it more difficult, though, to wave the banner of American values, can you be specific? And have you been on a call with a counterpart overseas and they've said, hey, hang on, who are you to lecture us about the state of democracy and how to run a country?
You know, when I speak to diplomats in Europe and beyond, some of them - many of them have argued that there has been damage to U.S. standing in the world and that much of that damage cannot be repaired. They would also argue that some of it predates the Trump administration. Do you hear similar when you have candid conversations with counterparts abroad?
It's a dramatic contrast with January 2020, when this same Mary Louise Kelly spurred a wave of liberal support by conducting a hostile interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She asked him about Ukraine as the Democrats impeached President Trump over Ukraine policy. she asked "Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?" That was the NPR angle in the headline online:
Pompeo Won't Say Whether He Owes Yovanovitch An Apology. 'I've Done What's Right'
Pompeo angrily insisted he didn't want to talk about it, and she continued. "I just want to give you another opportunity to answer this, because as you know, people who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here." She then cited "These are not unnamed sources!...This is your senior adviser Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience."
Kelly then went on air and reported that after her interview was cut short, Pompeo screamed at her (including use of the "F word") and demanded she locate Ukraine on an unmarked map, which she said she did.
She began the on-air interview with a series of hardballs on Iran. Her first question to Pompeo: "Let's start with Iran. What is the plan? And on diplomacy, specifically, is there any serious initiative to reopen diplomacy with Iran?"
There you have it: NPR fights fiercely with Republicans, but gets out the softball bucket for the Democrats.