NPR editor quit after telling the truth about liberal bias in media. It's time to defund them.

Editor's note: Uri Berliner, the senior business editor at NPR who blew the whistle on his employer's liberal bias, announced his resignation on Wednesday.

Twenty years ago, conservative journalist and humorist P.J. O’Rourke started an essay in The Atlantic with this anecdote: “Last year, on a long car trip, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout. I usually agree with Rush Limbaugh; therefore I usually don’t listen to him. I listen to NPR: ‘World to end − poor and minorities hardest hit.’ I like to argue with the radio.”

It still makes me laugh.

His dig at NPR is funny because it’s true. And it’s only become more true in the decades since O’Rourke penned those words.

I’ll admit it. I’ve listened to NPR for a long time. There’s nothing like waking up to its stories and sounds from around the world. And, like O’Rourke did, I seek out points of view that are different from mine.

In recent years, however, it’s gone from being something I enjoy to something that more often than not leaves me shaking my head. NPR’s obsession with identity, gender and race is ingrained in almost every story.

I’m far from the only one who’s noticed. Criticism also is coming from within.

NPR is in the hot seat after senior business editor Uri Berliner last week wrote a thoughtful yet damning piece in The Free Press, detailing what’s been going on behind the scenes at a place Berliner has long loved and respected.

Berliner offers numerous examples of how NPR has moved from objective reporting to activism, and choosing which stories to cover – or ignore – based on which political side could benefit.

(I’ll give you a hint: It’s usually the Democrats who win.)

A view of the National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters on North Capitol Street February 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. The broadcaster has suspended senior editor Uri Berliner after he authored an essay last week for The Free Press accusing his employer of liberal bias.
A view of the National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters on North Capitol Street February 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. The broadcaster has suspended senior editor Uri Berliner after he authored an essay last week for The Free Press accusing his employer of liberal bias.

At the heart of Berliner’s criticism is how NPR stopped telling its listeners the news and started telling them “what to think.” And a lot of that boils down to a startling lack of viewpoint diversity among staff.

As Berliner writes: “Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity, I looked at voter registration for our newsroom. In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None.”

For a company that boasts about how diversity is a “core value” and central to its “content, hiring, audience and workplace,” this seems to be a huge oversight.

It’s also one that Berliner says he couldn’t get any of the higher ups at NPR to give a second thought. Thus, Berliner’s decision to write the essay, which earned him a five-day suspension without pay.

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No wonder so many Americans don't trust the media

It’s not surprising that NPR is disciplining Berliner. After all, he publicly criticized his employer and called out its liberal bias.

What’s more troublesome is that NPR seems set on changing nothing. It has gone on the defensive and appears unable or unwilling to address the problems Berliner laid out.

This gets to the heart of why trust in the media has declined so rapidly in recent decades.

A Gallup poll from last year found that only a third (32%) of Americans trust the mass media – including radio, TV and newspapers – a “great deal” or a “fair amount.” This is a precipitous fall from a peak of 72% in 1976.

And Democrats at 58% are far more willing to say they trust the media to be fair and accurate than Republicans (just 11%).

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That should be a wake-up call to these news institutions. While they become more progressive and insulated from other viewpoints and experiences, the American public is much more politically diverse.

They notice what’s happening.

Here's a solution: Defund NPR

NPR – National Public Radio – isn’t just another media outlet. It’s funded in part by taxpayers, which places it in a different position than say The New York Times, The Washington Post or even my news organization.

Private publications are free to do what they want, although I think more are waking up to the need for more viewpoint diversity. It’s simply a smart business decision to reach a broader audience.

While Berliner argues that NPR still deserves public funding, I disagree.

He writes: “As the country becomes more fractured, there’s still a need for a public institution where stories are told and viewpoints exchanged in good faith.”

Yet, NPR is offering no confidence that it will embrace anything close to the viewpoint diversity that it now lacks. Its new CEO, Katherine Maher, is getting attention because of social media posts she made before she was hired, including calling former President Donald Trump a “racist sociopath” and boasting of wearing a Joe Biden campaign hat in public.

That doesn’t bode well.

If NPR wants to double down on its woke mission, fine. But it shouldn’t do it on my dime – or that of other taxpayers.

NPR claims that “federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR.”

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It’s not easy to get a set figure of how much taxpayer money actually flows to NPR, but it’s a sizable sum. While NPR likes to say that just a fraction of its funding comes directly from the federal government, that belies how much it gets indirectly from local stations who pay in part with federal grants for NPR’s flagship content.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides the grants, gets about $500 million a year from Congress.

That should end.

I hope NPR takes this moment to consider how “public radio” could better reflect a politically diverse country. But its support should no longer come from American taxpayers.

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on X, formerly Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NPR editor resigns after questioning media organization's liberal bias