News and Commentary

NPR Announces Journalists Will Now Be Allowed To Openly Engage In Political Activism

   DailyWire.com
The headquarters for National Public Radio, or NPR, are seen in Washington, DC, September 17, 2013. The USD 201 million building, which opened in 2013, serves as the headquarters of the media organization that creates and distributes news, information and music programming to 975 independent radio stations throughout the US, reaching 26 million listeners each week.
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Taxpayers are raising renewed calls to defund NPR after the public broadcaster announced that journalists can now openly advocate for a litany of hot-button political topics.

Last month, National Public Radio loosened its ethics policy, which long prevented correspondents from taking a public position on “controversial” or “polarizing” issues, or participating in politically-themed demonstrations. NPR Public Editor Kelly McBride announced on July 29:

The new policy eliminates the blanket prohibition from participating in “marches, rallies and public events,” as well as vague language that directed NPR journalists to avoid personally advocating for “controversial” or “polarizing” issues. …

The new NPR policy reads, “NPR editorial staff may express support for democratic, civic values that are core to NPR’s work, such as, but not limited to: the freedom and dignity of human beings, the rights of a free and independent press, the right to thrive in society without facing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability, or religion.”

“Is it OK to march in a demonstration and say, ‘Black lives matter’? What about a [Gay] Pride parade? In theory, the answer today is, ‘Yes,’” wrote McBride.

NPR’s newly adopted position conflicts with the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which holds that reporters should “avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.”

NPR’s new open-bias policy will bolster many of its journalists. For instance, NPR’s Mara Liasson compared Antifa rioters to U.S. veterans storming Omaha Beach on D-Day. But the flexibility it allows bosses to determine appropriate activism could muzzle center-Right NPR employees.

Theoretically, letting NPR journalists advocate for the “dignity of human beings” means they could take part in the annual March for Life and proclaim the personhood of unborn children on social media. Giving NPR reporters the right to advocate for Americans “facing discrimination on the basis of … religion” means correspondents could “express support” for Masterpiece Cake owner Jack Phillips, Washington florist Baronelle Stutzman, and former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.

In reality, this new policy does not mean anything goes. McBride noted that NPR personalities would still have to “discuss specific decisions with their bosses,” whose bias has been clear for years.

For example, in 2018, “Morning Edition” reporter Rachel Martin derisively called the nation’s largest pro-life event “the so-called March for Life.” (She later apologized.) The following year, NPR issued an official “Guidance Reminder” that journalists should never say the phrase “the unborn,” declaring, “Babies are not babies until they are born.” (They were also told to replace the clear term “partial birth abortion” with “intact dilation and extraction,” and they were forbidden from using any wording that would result in the phrase “pro-abortion” being uttered on the air.) NPR has also engaged in erroneous reporting about the pro-life group Live Action.

Despite letting newscasters protest religious discrimination, Catholic League President William Donohue cited numerous examples of NPR coverage that he sees as anti-Catholic, including:

  • 2005: NPR questioned the religion of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. NPR’s Lynn Neary wondered that since he is a Catholic whether “that might affect the way he views an issue like abortion, for instance.” Nina Totenberg of NPR even went so far as to say that his wife was “a high officer of a pro-life organization. He’s got adopted children. I mean, he’s a conservative Catholic.”
  • 2006: Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey was used by NPR as an occasion to lecture the pope on being sensitive to Muslims by not making any overtly Catholic comments or gestures. It cited prayer and kneeling as examples.
  • 2007: When Samuel Alito was nominated to the high court, NPR’s Dahlia Lithwick said, “People are very, very much talking about the fact that Alito would be the fifth Catholic in the Supreme Court if confirmed.”
  • 2014: An NPR game show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!”, made fun of Jesus dying on the Cross. Sexual references to Jesus were also made.

“This is the kind of bias that NPR evinced before its new ethics policy was promulgated,” Donohue said. “We can only guess how bad things will become now that its reporters can engage in direct activism with impunity.”

Thanks to the federally funded agency’s new policy, Donohue is asking all Americans to cut off the spigot of taxpayer dollars flowing to National Public Radio. “We are contacting all members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees asking that they defund NPR,” Donohue announced.

He asked his readers to contact the ranking minority members of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in Congress — Rep. Tom Cole’s legislative director, Joshua Grogis, and Senator Roy Blunt’s legislative director, Dan Burgess — and ask them to reduce NPR funding to zero.

The late Congressman Phil Crane (R-IL), the former chairman of the American Conservative Union, regularly introduced bills to defund, and then abolish, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the 1990s over its biased coverage and lack of clear constitutional authorization.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the fully taxpayer-funded entity which funds NPR, reports an annual budget of $445.5 million in 2021.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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