‘We Lost America’s Trust’: NPR Veteran Says Network Has ‘Lost Its Way’

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. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

A 25-year NPR veteran wrote a scathing op-ed saying that his network had “lost its way,” pointing to various examples, including coverage of transgender issues and the refusal to use terms like “biological sex.”

In The Free Press article titled, “I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust,” NPR Senior Business Editor Uri Berliner wrote that “an open-minded, curious culture prevailed,” previously — but said that had all changed and now “we don’t have an audience that reflects America.” The biggest problem he has seen at NPR is the lack of “viewpoint diversity.”

“It’s frictionless — one story after another about instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies,” Berliner said, adding that all appeared to be covered and framed in the same fashion. After George Floyd’s death, he said the message came down from the top of the network, “America’s infestation with systemic racism was declared loud and clear: it was a given.”

“In a document called NPR Transgender Coverage Guidance—disseminated by news management—we’re asked to avoid the term biological sex. (The editorial guidance was prepared with the help of a former staffer of the National Center for Transgender Equality.),” Berliner wrote. 

“The mindset animates bizarre stories—on how The Beatles and bird names are racially problematic, and others that are alarmingly divisive; justifying looting, with claims that fears about crime are racist; and suggesting that Asian Americans who oppose affirmative action have been manipulated by white conservatives,” he added.

“More recently, we have approached the Israel-Hamas war and its spillover onto streets and campuses through the ‘intersectional’ lens that has jumped from the faculty lounge to newsrooms,” the NPR veteran continued. “That’s meant highlighting the suffering of Palestinians at almost every turn while downplaying the atrocities of October 7, overlooking how Hamas intentionally puts Palestinian civilians in peril, and giving little weight to the explosion of antisemitic hate around the world.”

He pointed to NPR’s wall-to-wall coverage coverage during former President Donald Trump’s presidency of the now-debunked Russiagate. The editor said that the network’s response when the story fell apart was to pretend it never happened and to offer no “mea culpas, no self-reflection” even though they perpetuate the culture that “shatters trust and engenders cynicism about the media.”

Berliner wrote that NPR also “turned a blind eye” during the 2020 election to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden’s laptop, which he argued was newsworthy. “Its contents revealed his connection to the corrupt world of multimillion-dollar influence peddling and its possible implications for his father.”

He also looked critically at the network’s coverage of COVID-19 and said that its utter failure to consider anything other than the prevailing narrative — that the virus had to have come from nature — and its choice to completely ignore the “lab leak theory” was just another example of how the network had “lost its way.”

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