ROD THOMSON: NPR is irredeemable

Neither the article by Uri Berliner in The Free Press or the response by NPR CEO Katherine Maher and his suspension/resignation surprises me. What does surprise me is the response of many on the right, with some even surprised that Maher is still in charge, as though hiring a radical leftist was an accident.

The response to the Berliner-Maher dustup goes something like this: “Sure, NPR has a bias but it could be relied upon to give both sides. Now it no longer will even reflect on its own biases.”

This is surprising in that it was the right take maybe a generation ago. But as someone who was a regular on the local Augustana College NPR station in Rock Island, Illinois in the 80s and early 90s, I can safely say that NPR had long left just being "biased," which is the first stage of journalistic devolution. I was a daily newspaper reporter at the Davenport, Iowa-based Quad-City Times covering politics and as such was frequently on NPR’s local weekly political round-up. For a young print reporter, it was fun and as it was pre-recorded. My family would turn on the radio Saturday morning to listen. That was a long time ago.

I was one of two conservatives in the Times newsroom at that point, out of maybe 30 journalists (the problem in media also is a long way from new), and even then, the bias of the NPR staff was clear, particularly with anything political. But like the newsroom reporters, at that point, NPR's staff at least still took the concept of journalism seriously, which is why someone like me was a regular. 

However, by the early 2000s, NPR became unlistenable. Actual journalism was an endangered species. Their climate alarmist, "LGBT" obsessed, anti-Christian, family-destabilizing, race-driven agenda was sprinting toward third-stage media devolution.

As leftists, NPR and all mainstream media travel three similar stages, drifting from biased reporters to partisan hacks and eventually to naked propagandists.

In the first stage, there was bias, but reporters still tried to provide both sides and cared about the concept of journalism. That was NPR in the 80s and 90s. Then came the shift to political partisanship where coverage tends to continually align with what is best for the Democratic Party or Democrat nominees at the polls. The American media made that shift clear with President Barack Obama coverage that lacked anything like an even-hand or accountability.

By the time of Trump, the broad-scale Russia collusion hoax, Ukraine phone call and ultimately Covid coverage had flipped the media to state-aligned propagandists. And NPR was there, waiting to welcome them.

Berliner wrote of the change after the 2020 George Floyd riots and the open embrace of every crazy identitarian-laced DEI category out there, including “MGIPOC (Marginalized Genders and Intersex People of Color mentorship program); Mi Gente (Latinx employees); NPR Noir (black employees); Southwest Asians and North Africans at NPR; Ummah (Muslim employees); Women, Gender-Expansive, and Transgender People in Technology Throughout Public Media; and NPR Pride (LGBTQIA employees at NPR)." Good golly.

But remember, Berliner himself self-identifies as a man of the left. Human nature being what it is, this was all well underway long before he could see it, which is revealed when he discovered the NPR voter registration count was 87-0 Democrats. There was finally an actual, objective data point for him. But it didn’t just happen overnight. And Katherine Maher’s hiring was not an accident.

Just as changing presidents at Harvard or Penn will not change those institutions, even if Maher is fired, someone close enough to her worldview will replace her and NPR will continue on its merry propagandistic way.

This is why legislation authored by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney to completely defund NPR is the only route, and long overdue. “American taxpayers should not be forced to fund NPR, which has become a partisan propaganda machine,” she told the New York Post. Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn plans to introduce defunding legislation in the Senate.

Government should never be funding media in the first place. We should have a wall of separation between media and state. Perhaps we finally have enough face-slapping information to get it done. Perhaps.

Rod Thomson is a former daily newspaper reporter and columnist, Salem radio host and ABC TV commentator, and current Founder of The Thomson Group, a Florida-based political consulting firm. He has eight children and seven grandchildren and a rapacious hunger to fight for America for them. Follow him on Twitter at @Rod_Thomson. Email him at [email protected].

Image: Title: uri berliner


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