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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Republican Lawmakers Demand NPR CEO Address Allegations of Political Bias

Republican members of Congress have called on NPR’s new chief executive, Katherine Maher, to address accusations of political bias in the network’s journalism during a hearing scheduled for next week.

In their letter, the lawmakers emphasized NPR’s status as a taxpayer-funded public radio organization and called for a focus on fair and objective news reporting that reflects the views of the broader U.S. population. They expressed concern about what they perceive as a bias favoring a niche audience over a more diverse range of perspectives.

The hearing, to be held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight subcommittee, aims to address these concerns and examine NPR’s editorial practices.

While NPR declined to comment on the matter, scheduling conflicts may arise as Ms. Maher is slated to convene with NPR’s board of directors all day on May 8, according to an agenda of the upcoming meeting.

The scrutiny of NPR’s journalistic integrity intensified following an essay by Uri Berliner, a former senior editor at the network, in which he alleged that progressive politics had influenced NPR’s coverage of significant stories. Citing examples such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Hunter Biden’s laptop, Mr. Berliner claimed that NPR’s reporting exhibited bias.

The publication of Mr. Berliner’s essay prompted backlash from many NPR employees, who disputed the accuracy of his claims. Tony Cavin, NPR’s managing editor for standards, defended the network’s coverage, asserting that it adhered to responsible journalistic practices consistent with other mainstream news organizations.

Ms. Maher herself has faced scrutiny from conservative activists, who have scrutinized her social media history and highlighted posts expressing support for progressive causes and criticism of former President Donald J. Trump. Despite this, NPR has affirmed Ms. Maher’s right to free expression, noting that she made the posts before joining the network and was not involved in news reporting at the time.

Republican lawmakers have previously threatened to cut government funding for NPR, which receives funding from the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, these threats have not resulted in significant funding reductions for the organization, which generates revenue by selling radio programming to its member stations nationwide.

The upcoming hearing signals ongoing tensions between NPR and Republican lawmakers over allegations of political bias in the network’s reporting. As NPR continues to navigate these challenges, the hearing will provide an opportunity for Ms. Maher to address the accusations and reaffirm NPR’s commitment to fair and impartial journalism.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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