Column: 'Public' Radio Isn't Dedicated to the Masses

April 12th, 2024 6:18 AM

Is National Public Radio fair and balanced? Do they care what you think?

NPR has a “Public Editor” to monitor listener complaints and concerns, but as we all know, the majority of their listeners are going to complain they’re not “progressive” enough. In 2021, Public Editor Kelly McBride appeared on Brian Stelter’s CNN podcast to praise NPR’s decision to allow their journalists to go to (leftist) public protests so they can “bring their full humanity to work with them.”

When Stelter asked about NPR’s critics, McBride dismissed any conservative complaints about a leftist tilt because they are not “genuinely interested in improving NPR.” McBride claimed her job was to coach NPR “to achieve its own internally stated goals. It doesn’t help to be magnifying disingenuous criticism.” To balance NPR is to harm NPR?

NPR senior editor Uri Berliner wrote a bombshell expose for the Free Press website, chronicling NPR’s blatant bias on subjects from Russian collusion conspiracy theories to the Hunter Biden laptop. NPR didn’t report negatively on Donald Trump, they sought to “damage or topple Trump’s presidency.” Is McBride going to find that this internally stated criticism isn’t worth considering?

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik countered with an official word salad from NPR chief news executive Edith Chapin rejecting Berliner’s critique: "We're proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories," she wrote. "We believe that inclusion — among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage — is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world."

“Inclusion” of conservative viewpoints is something NPR refuses to do. Folkenflik has been an NPR media reporter since 2004, and he has never interviewed me or anyone else at the Media Research Center for one of his reports on media performance, including in his multitude of hostile stories on Fox News. 

But Folkenflik recently filed several stories from fervently anti-Israel leftists at The Intercept complaining that The New York Times was too pro-Israel in reporting about sexual assaults committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. You can complain from the Left that Hamas is presented as too violent, but you can’t complain from the right that Republicans are painted as Jim Crow racists or fascists.

CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy wasn’t as calm as Folkenflik. He hated this Berliner critique from the start. In his April 9 newsletter, he skeptically stated the idea that NPR is "supposedly embracing" a progressive view, and Berliner "felt more aligned with the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal than NPR." So Darcy wants to deny NPR's identity is on the Left, and then he signals that it is.

Darcy expressed disgust that “Fox News quickly pounced” on the article, and it may lead to a “Jim Jordan type” to hold an oversight hearing on NPR tilt. Horrors!

On April 10, Darcy was at it again. Berliner's expose on NPR is "nothing short but a massive gift to the right," whose top priority is "vilifying the news media." This is weird coming from Darcy, who routinely vilifies Fox News as fake news and argues it should be deplatformed by cable companies. Freedom of speech does not mean “freedom of reach,” Darcy and Stelter have argued.

On a daily basis, taxpayer-funded NPR is nothing short of a massive gift to the Left, pumping out progressive propaganda to over 1,000 stations.  Because it has “public” in its branding, too many Americans still think it’s a service to everyone…. and not just to the Democrats who insure the millions keep flowing.