DANIEL VAUGHAN: NPR's Own Reporters Prove The Case To Defund NPR

 April 10, 2024

It's not often you read a piece where a person in an industry publicly criticizes their profession and the company they're working for while remaining there. That happened this week when Uri Berliner, a 25-year National Public Radio (NPR) veteran, published a lengthy piece slamming his employer's journalism, professionalism, and biases.

Berliner is not some conservative who is raising concerns, either. He's a self-described liberal: "I'm Sarah Lawrence–educated, was raised by a lesbian peace activist mother, I drive a Subaru, and Spotify says my listening habits are most similar to people in Berkeley. I fit the NPR mold. I'll cop to that."

The thrust of his criticism is that NPR lost its way in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump. All pretenses of unbiased coverage went out the window, alienating larger and larger portions of the NPR audience. He cites many examples and data along the way but mainly points to NPR's own reports.

He writes: "Back in 2011, although NPR's audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large. Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal. By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren't just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals."

He notes that NPR's journalism points the way. It went from a left-wing tilt to an overbearing progressive insistence that everyone thinks a certain way. He says NPR followed everything Rep. Adam Schiff said daily, reporting it as fact. But when that fell apart with the release of Robert Mueller's report, no one at NPR thought about reviewing how the company reported on that.

That wasn't the only major reporting failure. NPR whiffed and missed the Hunter Biden laptop story and the lab leak theory on the origins of COVID-19. In both situations, the higher-ups at NPR helped shape the narrative and squashed fair reporting. This happened even when they were consistently proven wrong.

Like many places, NPR is wrapped up in far-left progressive ideology. He writes, "Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace. Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity (among other questions), and had to enter it in a centralized tracking system. We were given unconscious bias training sessions. A growing DEI staff offered regular meetings imploring us to "start talking about race." Monthly dialogues were offered for "women of color" and "men of color." Nonbinary people of color were included, too."

When Berliner started pushing back at NPR, asking where the viewpoint diversity was on any topic, he got nothing. When he looked at the staff's voting preferences, he found no Republicans of any kind. NPR's staff was sold out to everything progressive, with nothing to offer anyone who even lightly dissented.

To Berliner's credit, he tried raising many of these concerns with his bosses and NPR's CEO. Nothing ever happened. There are no signs NPR has any interest in changing, and now they're getting blasted by one of their own employees—who shares many of the bosses' political views.

That isn't all for NPR. Berliner describes a sinking company. NPR is losing listeners and readers across all products. People are leaving for better podcasts, news sites, and radio programs that offer views they prefer. If you don't want a progressive ideology browbeating you for that week's latest "thing," you can find that in the open market. That's leaving NPR behind.

Berliner is correct in his conclusion that NPR is failing to do meaningful work. Its reporting isn't driving the conversation, and it isn't publishing meaningful work. It's another progressive sinkhole representing a shrinking part of the population.

Berliner rebuts conservative criticisms that NPR should be defunded, hoping that NPR will change its ways. But I disagree. His criticism is accurate, and conservatives spotted these issues long ago. NPR does not represent an unbiased news source that helps out people who otherwise might not get served.

NPR services people who don't need taxpayer money to support their preferences. Wealthy, white elites in coastal cities and college towns can afford their own versions of MSNBC. The average American shouldn't be on the hook for providing these elites with their news entertainment for the day.

But it's beyond that. The US Government needs to pull the plug on funding NPR because we're flooded with content. News publications nationwide have earned their place in an ever-increasing competitive pool. NPR doesn't deserve a boost from taxpayers when it does nothing to represent those taxpayers.

Defund NPR.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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