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Time to end taxpayer funding for NPR

NPR has every right to operate as a left-wing propaganda outlet masquerading as a legitimate news organization. But it is not entitled to pursue this goal with taxpayer money. The latest revelations about the ideological rot at NPR have only made this case stronger. 

If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve seen this sort of journalistic story-cycle before.

Some big mainstream-media institution botches a story or a series of stories. In the wake of the embarrassment, some within the ranks realize that their audience is almost entirely left-of-center, and that the potential right-of-center audience doesn’t trust them. They look at the institution’s past work and grasp that, at minimum, there’s a stultifying groupthink within their ranks. At worst, many within the institution have begun to see themselves as the communications wing of the Democratic National Committee. This groupthink or ideological conformity effectively put blinders on the organization, making it unable to see glaring problems or important stories, or making their coverage far too credulous of someone who shouldn’t have been trusted. Certain voices within the institution conclude, with sadness, that the organization has strayed from its original mission to report the news and give its audience the straight story and they make some big public announcement demanding that their institution do better.

And then very little changes.

You can think back to Dan Rather and CBS News, or Eason Jordan and CNN, or Stephen Glass at the New Republic. Or, more recently, the staff panic and outrage that ousted James Bennet from the editorial page at the New York Times. Heck, you could go back to Janet Cooke and the Washington Post, or all the way back to Walter Duranty’s work for the New York Times in the Soviet Union, echoing the propaganda of Stalin.

There’s something a bit refreshing, if depressing, about the way NPR responded to 25-year veteran Uri Berliner’s comprehensive indictment of his employer, published in The Free Press: NPR management denied all of his accusations and suspended him for a week, and then he resigned. “I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by the new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay,” he said.

Chris Rufo has gone through the Twitter feed of NPR CEO Katherine Maher and found her to be a platonic ideal of left-wing, “woke,” progressive orthodoxy, sprinkled with corporate buzzwords.

This time at NPR, there is no rubbing of the chin, furrowed brows, or begrudging concession that the critic has a point, and that they must do better. Nope, NPR’s management thinks they’re doing a terrific job, and they don’t see any reason to change. In their minds, the true villain of this story is Berliner, for criticizing his employer in another publication. (Admittedly, very few employers are big fans of that move.)

And Berliner’s former colleagues are similarly indignant that anybody could possibly doubt the quality of the work that they’re doing. About 50 of them wrote to the NPR CEO, fuming, “Berliner’s public comments have made the jobs of our colleagues harder and have attracted harassment for them. For every person who might tear down their colleagues in public, there are scores of people steadily trying to make change from within.”

Berliner’s essay covered a lot, but the core argument was that NPR had dropped the ball on three big stories in the past few years — the allegation that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, the Hunter Biden laptop, and the origin of Covid.


Schiff, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, became NPR’s guiding hand, its ever-present muse. By my count, NPR hosts interviewed Schiff 25 times about Trump and Russia. During many of those conversations, Schiff alluded to purported evidence of collusion. The Schiff talking points became the drumbeat of NPR news reports.

But when the Mueller report found no credible evidence of collusion, NPR’s coverage was notably sparse. Russiagate quietly faded from our programming.

The counterargument from NPR strikes me as a dodge:

[Tony Cavin, NPR’s managing editor of standards and practices] told The Post NPR aired 900 interviews with lawmakers during the same period of time, “so that’s 3 percent. He’s a business reporter, he knows about statistics and it seems he’s selectively using statistics.”

But Berliner’s argument wasn’t really that NPR interviewed Adam Schiff too many times. The problem was that Schiff was making statements like, “The Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help and the President made full use of that help,” and insisting there was plenty of evidence for this that he had seen through his position on the House Intelligence Committee. And then that evidence was never produced, and NPR never really grappled with the fact that Schiff had misled its listeners for several years.

As for the Hunter Biden laptop, let’s face it, most of the mainstream media find Hunter Biden to be too mortifying a topic to discuss for any extended period of time, and when they absolutely have to acknowledge the fact that the president’s son managed to combine sex scandals, tax scandals, gun scandals, drug scandals, shady-foreign-business-partner scandals, influence-peddling scandals, and cashing-in-on-dad’s-name scandals, they largely retreat to the anodyne and misleading narrative, “This is a story of a father’s love for his son.” Hunter Biden been a walking nonstop scandal and conflict of interest since young adulthood. The moment the New York Post reported about what was on the laptop, no serious person who had looked at Hunter Biden’s history could conclude, “Oh, Hunter Biden wouldn’t get involved with anything like that! He’s too upstanding, decent, honest, and smart to get wrapped up in something sordid, scandalous, or illegal.” As we recently learned, Hunter Biden was hiring prostitutes and then telling the IRS that the money he spent on them was a legitimate business expense. That is a really unprecedented combination of excess nerve and AWOL judgment.

There really isn’t any way to square the reality of Hunter Biden with the myth of good old Scranton Joe Biden, who’s always telling us we can trust him because he gives us “his word as a Biden.”

Of course, NPR averted its eyes from Hunter Biden. It doesn’t want to report on him, the Biden administration doesn’t want it to report on him, and the remaining NPR audience doesn’t want to hear about him.

As for the origins of the coronavirus. . .

You would think that the typical progressive lefty would loathe the regime in Beijing. Sure, it’s still called the “Chinese Communist Party,” but these guys embraced certain forms of capitalism, as a way of filling the state’s coffers, a long time ago.

China is the world’s biggest polluter, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon, and the world’s biggest user of coal. Air pollution kills more than a million Chinese each year. China’s human-rights record is abominable, it’s committing an ongoing genocide of an ethnic minority, exploits slave labor, barely tolerates homosexuality, and “sexist state propaganda labels single professional women older than 27 as sheng nu, or leftover women.” It’s a totalitarian and authoritarian surveillance state where a “social credit score” inflicts wide-ranging punishments for the slightest sign of disloyalty to the state.

If you asked the typical progressive to describe their ultimate nightmare dystopia, they probably would inadvertently describe something akin to modern China. But they don’t lay awake worrying about that; they watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and fear that somebody like Mike Pence will overturn the Constitution — pause for irony, considering the events of January 6 — and establish a Christian theocracy. Why do so many American progressives seethe about potential imaginary Christian theocracies and shrug off real-world oppressive regimes? Because they have annoying relatives who quote Jesus, and not Mao. If America’s aggravating aunts touted “Xi Jinping Thought” and sneered at Taiwan while passing the gravy at Thanksgiving, this country’s young people would be staunchly opposed to the CCP.

(Side note: In just the past year, we’ve seen young progressives marching in the streets and chanting in support of Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah, chanting “death to America,” and then out of nowhere, the juvenile know-nothings on TikTok suddenly decided that Osama bin Laden had made a lot of valid points. In some corners of the progressive Left, the preeminent value is, “We Americans suck,” and ergo, anyone in the world who hates us must have some sort of valid point. Robert Frost once said, “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.” A modern young progressive is a person who, when faced with a street fight, joins the other side against themselves.)

But when the typical person on the left is given the options of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s China, and has to pick a villain in the story, they will choose Trump.

In February 2020, incumbent president Trump was in pretty decent polling position — certainly better than he was for much of the rest of the year. You could find polls that had Trump and Biden tied in Pennsylvania.

A lot of U.S. media wanted to treat the coronavirus pandemic as a Donald Trump story. And no doubt, the president and his actions and statements are always a significant portion of a story like that. But the story of the pandemic was way bigger than Trump. It was arguably the biggest news event in decades, having an impact on just about every person on earth.

A lot of Americans, particularly those on the left, wanted to believe that the pandemic was, in some way, Donald Trump’s fault. At first it was his fault for overhyping the threat of the virus and stirring up anti-Chinese sentiment and paranoia. (Joe Biden, responding to the travel ban from China, January 31, 2020: “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysterical xenophobia and fear mongering to lead the way instead of science.”) Then overnight, it became Trump’s fault for under-hyping the danger and downplaying the risk of social contact.

If the whole global nightmare traced back to a lab leak, it meant that all the death, all the overcrowded hospitals, all the elderly effectively trapped in nursing homes, all the people who couldn’t say goodbye to their loved ones because the funerals were considered excessively large gatherings, all the school closures and lost learning — that all of that was somebody else’s fault. Likely, some idiot in the Wuhan Institute of Virology didn’t use his safety precautions properly one day, unknowingly inhaled something he was working with, went home, kissed his wife and kids, and the virus was off and running.

(Another side note: During and immediately after the pandemic, we heard a lot of talk that because of human contact with previously untouched wilderness, and more likely contact with new viruses, we were going to have more pandemics like this. Well, knocking on wood, that hasn’t happened. It’s almost like most viruses found in wild animals are optimized to spread through wild animals, and not human beings. Why it’s almost as if SARS-CoV-2 had been optimized, through, say, gain-of-function research, to be particularly contagious among human beings and particularly virulent. Oh, and it is April 18, 2024, and no one has ever found SARS-CoV-2 — a precise genetic match — in a bat. Kind of weird, huh?)

In other words, believing in the possibility of a lab leak in 2020 represented a bit of blasphemy against the emerging progressive orthodoxy, and it had to be stifled, at least until Election Day. (Did you notice how the lab leak became more respectable and worthy of consideration once Trump was out of office?) Because if the pandemic wasn’t Trump’s fault, the electorate might cut him some slack and return him to office for another four years. And no one at NPR wanted that to happen.

Let’s pause to point out that Berliner could have picked his battles a little better. Berliner’s former colleague, Steve Inskeep, offered a detailed rebuttal, and pointed out a case where Berliner could have used some specific numbers and distinguished between NPR staff and guests on their program:

He writes of a dismaying experience with his managers: “I asked why we keep using that word that many Hispanics hate — Latinx.”

Why indeed? It’s true that many Latinos don’t like this ungendered term, including some who work at NPR. That may be why NPR does not generally use the term. I did a search at for the previous 90 days. I found:

197 uses of Latino

201 uses of Latina

And just nine uses of “Latinx,” usually by a guest on NPR who certainly has the right to say it.

But that’s a detail in a long and wide-ranging indictment. And NPR management is going to treat Berliner’s arguments the same way much of the staff treated the counterevidence for the Trump–Russia collusion narrative, or the Hunter Biden laptop, or the evidence pointing to a lab leak. They’re just going to ignore it and wait for it to go away.

What’s anybody going to do? Take away their government funding?

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