NPR suspends editor who claimed left-wing bias at outlet had ‘lost America’s trust’

Photo courtesy of CNN

Photo courtesy of CNN

Originally Published: 16 APR 24 08:58 ET
Updated: 16 APR 24 09:04 ET

New York (CNN) — NPR has suspended the senior business editor who penned a scathing online essay claiming the radio network had “lost America’s trust” by embracing a “progressive worldview,” prompting fierce right-wing backlash and calls to defund the public radio network.

NPR’s David Folkenflik reported on Tuesday that Uri Berliner’s five-day suspension without pay began last Friday. In a written letter notifying Berliner of the suspension, the network said he did not first seek approval for work in other outlets, as is required by NPR. It described the notice as a “final warning,” stating Berliner would be fired if he violated NPR’s policy again, Folkenflik reported.

An NPR spokeswoman told CNN the outlet “does not comment on individual personnel matters, including discipline.” Berliner did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

The disciplinary action came after Berliner openly ridiculed NPR’s news coverage in a 3,500-word piece for the anti-establishment publication The Free Press, claiming the broadcaster had failed to properly cover allegations Donald Trump colluded with Russia in the runup to the 2016 election, the controversial Covid-19 lab-leak theory and the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story.

Berliner used his complaints about how those individual stories were covered by his colleagues to draw a sweeping conclusion that NPR had lost “viewpoint diversity,” and started “telling listeners how to think.”

NPR editor-in-chief Edith Chapin quickly pushed back against Berliner’s characterization of the outlet, telling staff in a memo that network management “strongly disagree with Uri’s assessment of the quality of our journalism and the integrity of our newsroom processes.”

“We believe that inclusion — among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage — is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world,” she added.

Other NPR staffers publicly rejected Berliner’s assessment in social media posts.

“Many things wrong w/terrible Berliner column on NPR, including not observing basic fairness,” NPR TV critic and media analyst Eric Deggans wrote. “Didn’t seek comment from NPR before publishing. Didn’t mention many things which could detract from his conclusions. Set up staffers of color as scapegoats.”

But Berliner’s essay prompted immediate backlash from Republicans and right-wing media, with many accusing the network of “liberal bias” and calling for the publicly funded outlet to be stripped of its grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

On his Truth Social media platform, Trump called NPR a “LIBERAL DISINFORMATION MACHINE,” that “NOT ONE DOLLAR” of government funds should be sent to in the future.


On Fox News, the network’s hosts fanned the flames of outrage with hours of programming about Berliner’s essay.

“WOKE NPR EXPOSED,” declared an on-screen banner Wednesday on Fox News’ most-watched program, “The Five.”

“NPR PUMPED OUT AN ASSEMBLY LINE OF PROPAGANDA,” blared a separate banner on host Jesse Watters’ primetime program.

Berliner, however, did not go nearly that far in his piece. And he stressed in his essay that defunding the broadcaster “isn’t the answer.” In an email to CNN on Wednesday, Berliner that he rejects the notion that NPR is a “liberal disinformation machine,” as Trump stated.

“I have not seen Trump’s comments, but the quote you cite is not the first time he has attacked the media,” he wrote. “He has done it countless times before and will no doubt do it many times again.”

In the days since, the right-wing revolt against the outlet has continued. NPR’s chief executive, Katherine Maher, has also faced criticism from the right over old tweets skewering Trump.

NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara dismissed the attacks fueled by right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, saying Maher “was not working in journalism at the time and was exercising her First Amendment right to express herself like any other American citizen.”

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