NPR Editor Scrutinized For Left Bias as Senior Editor Resigns

The president and CEO of National Public Radio sidestepped questions about whether there should be more “viewpoint diversity” in the organization’s newsroom, just as a veteran editor resigned this week after sounding the alarm about the liberal groupthink that’s present there.

While speaking this week at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. NPR CEO Katherine Maher was questioned about “viewpoint diversity.” That’s what Uri Berliner, the former senior business editor for NPR, brought up in a bombshell essay that he wrote for The Free Press.

Berliner was suspended for writing that essay, and then ultimately resigned from NPR after much “turmoil” erupted at the newsroom.

Jon Bateman, a senior fellow at Carnegie who was moderating the event, asked Maher:

“Is that kind of diversity something that you track or should track internally, or how do you get a handle on whether those things are actually happening or not?”

Maher responded:

“I think that’s reflected in what is the audience that we serve and how much value do they get out of our work. Tracking individual viewpoints — I mean, this is the thing about journalism is that, of course, people come from all sorts of backgrounds. They have different lived experiences, but they come to the table to do the work and uphold journalistic ethics and integrity.

“And that means reporting stories based on the facts. That means reporting stories that matter. That means ensuring that we’re rigorous with our sourcing.”

Maher ultimately didn’t really address the topic of viewpoint diversity much at all in her response, or any of her comments at the event. All she did, really, was mention that it was important for the organization to be representative of the people in the U.S.

Maher only joined the news organization in March, and insisted multiple times at the event that she doesn’t hold any editorial control over the coverage that NPR does.

She also mentioned that she never ended up meeting Berliner in their short time together at NPR. In fact, Maher commented:

“I wish in some ways that I had had that chance so that we could have talked about what his concerns were. I don’t have any editorial guidance on the newsroom, but it would have been interesting to hear and be able to think about structurally what can we do.”

Maher pointed out that she has set up quarterly meetings with multiple NPR stations around the country, and also a monthly meeting in the newsroom that is meant to address the coverage NPR is doing.

What she did say in regard to diversity is this:

“I think another piece of that is making sure we have active and robust debate in the newsroom from a wide variety of perspectives so that those conversations are being had. Again, that is something that is a newsroom leadership initiative.

“But, giving people the ability to feel as though, that those conversations are welcomed, is creating a culture where those conversations are welcomed. Those are incredibly important priorities for us in order to be of service to the widest number of people.”