NPR May Be Among ‘Biggest Losers’ in Election

Regardless of how the presidential election turns out, National Public Radio (NRP) is poised to be one of the biggest losers.

NPR, which calls itself an independent, non-partisan media organization, for years has been harshly criticized by Republicans for lack of impartiality. NPR poured fuel on the fire last month by declaring that it wasn’t covering the Hunter Biden laptop scandal because it’s a waste of time.

Partisanship is risky business for an organization that is on the public dole.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes taxpayer dollars to NPR and other public media outlets, received $465 million in federal funds for the 2020 fiscal year, about one percent of its budget. Congress threw in another $50 million to upgrade CPB’s “interconnection system.” This despite President Donald J. Trump’s call to slash CPB’s funding to a paltry $30 million.

NPR may have destroyed whatever goodwill remained among key Republicans who kept the spigot flowing.

Waste of Time

The New York Post ran a series of articles alleging that, at the least, the family of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden engaged in influence peddling while Joe Biden was vice-president and, at worst, he was directly involved. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliff said there is no evidence the story is Russian propaganda. A former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, Tony Bobolinski, said he had face-to-face meetings with Joe Biden about a proposed China deal.

A listener asked why NPR has “apparently not reported on the Joe Biden, Hunter Biden story in the last week or so that Joe did know about Hunter’s business connections in Europe that Joe had previously denied having knowledge?”

On Oct. 21, Kelly McBride, who became NPR’s public editor in April, answered the question on NPR’s website: “[T]he biggest reason you haven’t heard much on NPR about the Post story is that the assertions don’t amount to much.” She quoted Terence Samuels, NPR’s Managing Editor for News, as stating NPR wasn’t covering the story because “we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”


McBride’s pronouncement led to immediate backlash on social media, where #DefundNPR and #BoycottNPR are now trending.

Republican legislators were incensed.

The House Judiciary GOP tweeted: “Defund NPR.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., sent a letter to NPR president and CEO John Lansing, condemning NPR’s refusal to cover the story. “[O]ur nation deserves outlets that report the news – not outlets who believe they are the arbiter of truth,” said Duncan, who also accused NPR of working to defeat Trump since 2016. 

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., called NPR’s blackout on the story “appalling” and said his staff is preparing proposed legislation to defund NPR.

In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA castigated NPR for “ALARMING BIAS — Taxpayer-funded NPR poured into Steele Dossier and Russia hoax, now refuse to cover real corruption scandal… .”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-NC, tweeted: “NPR had no problem covering the Russia hoax, but THIS is where they draw the line? #DefundNPR.”

Too Important To Ignore

Several newspaper outlets wrote stories condemning NPR’s refusal to cover the story.

Richard Grenell, a senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Policy and Strategy, wrote in The Hill the Hunter Biden story is too important for the media to dismiss. “[W]hat should worry Americans most is the extraordinary financial leverage that Hunter Biden’s investment activities, if they are as reported, could potentially give the Chinese government over the family of the man who now wants to be our next president — and why the media isn’t rushing to prove or to disprove it,” he wrote.

The National Review, a conservative publication, wrote: “Taxpayers have every right to expect organizations such as NPR to hold the powerful accountable without partisan favor – and that goes for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”

The Washington Examiner, a political news site, tweeted: “Is NPR helping Biden win?”

It is not surprising that NPR prefers Biden to Trump, a declared foe of NPR’s public funding. But it is baffling the degree to which NPR was willing to showcase the partisan views of its staff. Republicans voted to allocate funds to NPR for years, despite believing it to be biased. Has NPR finally gone one step too far?

NPR’s Diversity Problem: Why So Few Women Sources?

The high-tech industry in Silicon Valley isn’t the only American industry with serious diversity problems.

National Public Radio this week reported that male sources outnumber female sources on the network’s two largest weekday newsmagazines by two-to-one.  Sources include on-air personalities and  subject matter experts, Only about 30 percent of all  sources on Morning Edition and All Things Considered were female in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. There has been no improvement for the past three years.

Women, who comprise 50.45 percent of the U.S. population, are under-represented along all racial classes.


Here are the percentage  of male/female sources broken down by race:

  • Asian : Males, 76%; Females 24%.
  • Whites: Males, 70%; Females 30%.
  • Latino: Males, 71%; Females 29%.
  • Blacks: Males 62%; Females 39%.

Women and Latinos are severely under-represented as NPR sources.

The percentage of NPR sources who are Latino remained flat at six percent for each of the three years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Latinos make up 17.4 percent of the U.S. population.

Here is the breakdown of sources by race from the NPR report:

  • There was a decline in the overall percentage of white sources, from 80 percent in 2013 to 73 percent in 2015.   Whites make up 77.4 percent of the U.S. population in 2014.
  • African-American voices rose from 5 percent in 2013 to 11 percent in 2015. African-Americans comprise 13.2 percent of the U.S. population.
  • The share of Asian sources rose to eight percent in 2015, compared to five percent in 2013.  Asians comprise 5.4 percent of the U.S. population.

Asians as a group are actually over-represented but Asian women lag the farthest behind in any racial group.

Of course, the U.S. population is not the same as NPR’s listener-ship. NPR listeners are 85 percent white, eight percent Latino and seven percent black.

Keith Woods, NPR’s vice president for diversity in news and operations, is quoted as stating he is “generally pleased with the direction that this is going,” noting the increases in the share of black on-air sources, as well as the percentage of “subject matter experts” who are people of color. He said he had “hoped for better news on our coverage of women, on our inclusion of women.”

Note: Two protected classes were not surveyed by NPR, age and disability.

Ageism, Mitt Romney and National Public Radio

Age discrimination normally is the one type of discrimination that is so prevalent that it  goes unnoticed.

But I couldn’t help but notice it this week.

First, Republican Mitt Romney, 67, claimed that he decided not to stage a third run for the presidency because it is time to pass the reigns to a “new generation:”  Romney, of course, didn’t mention that his backers have fled because he proved on two occasions that he is hopelessly out of touch with the American public and surprisingly inept at being a politician.  Romney’s ageist stab at Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, 67, and Republican Jeb Bush, 61, shows he is just as clueless about aging as he is about the lives of ordinary Americans.

This morning, I was taken aback by a segment on the National Public Radio program, “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”   A panel spent several minutes joking about Bob Dylan’s appearance on the cover of “AARP The Magazine.” Host Peter Sagel, 50, compared Dylan, who is 73, to a “strange withered troll.” He goes on to say, “If you’ve seen the cover, I know you’re thinking, ‘Aww, that’s too bad’ … but no, Bob Dylan is still alive …  He’s updating his songs, like, Lay Lady Lay, lay across my adjustable hospital bed … His real name is Bob Zimmerman. He’s an old Jewish man now.”

Is it completely humorless to note that Sagel’s jokes are really about age?  His comments perpetuate mean-spirited, dehumanizing and false stereotypes about aging.  It is almost as if Sagel feels that Dylan has  forfeited his brilliance and talent and suffered the final humiliation by becoming an “old Jewish man.”   This type of humor is on the same spectrum as tasteless jokes about blondes and minorities, which presumably would not be allowed on NPR.

The mission of NPR is to “to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.”  NPR is informing the public but what it is telling the public is that ageism is acceptable, entertaining and doesn’t hurt older people.

In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace, I argue that older workers are subject to epidemic discrimination because of deep-seated animus against aging and false stereotypes about older Americans.  I cite a 2002 study of 68,144 participants of diverse ages that found that age bias “remains in our experience … among the largest negative implicit attitudes we have observed … consistently larger than the anti-black attitude among white Americans.”

The Secret Service’s Locker Room Mentality

This is a story about two kinds of “employees.”

One is a Colombian woman, 24, who considers herself to be a high-class prostitute – an “escort” – who can command more than a street prostitute because she can dress up and go out to dinner without embarrassing her clients.

The other is a highly-paid  member of the U.S. Secret Service who was in Columbia as part of an advance team prepping for a visit by President Barack Obama to attend the Summit of the Americas. He allegedly agreed to pay the woman $800 one evening but only anted-up $28 the next morning, inciting a fracas of international proportions.

According to the New York Times, the “escort” was eventually paid about $225 – though she told them that she has to pay her pimp $250. If this is true, she lost money on the deal.

Three members of the Secret Service fared even worse. They lost their jobs, which reportedly paid salaries in excess of  $75,000 a year.  One was fired; one retired; and one resigned.  Eight employees remain under investigation and may follow their former co-workers out the door.

The real importance of this scandal involves the negative impact it will surely have on the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, and the light that it sheds on the seemingly troubled culture of the Secret Service.

Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of “Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service,” told NPR this week that the agency prefers to hire ex-football players because “they understand how to play their positions in situations where teamwork is essential.”

Of course, football players are not particularly noted for their diplomatic skills or their sensitivity to women.

It all goes to show that sometimes working as a team is not such a good thing – like when testosterone-infused peer pressure kicks in and the team gets drunk, carouses with prostitutes, and then treats them with disdain and disrespect.

That may be what got them in the end – this “escort” thought she was better than that. She was insulted by the pittance proffered in payment.   She also claims to have been offended when the agent allegedly became aggressive and angry with her when she sought more money.

It’s time for the Secret Service to rethink the team concept. It’s 2012, not 1950. That “boys will be boys” locker room mentality is no longer acceptable.

And, while prostitutes may be the most exploited and reviled workers on the face of the earth, it is still wise to still treat them with  dignity and respect. They are being hired to perform a service for money, not unlike the members of the U.S. Secret Service.

NPR v. Juan Williams

Does anyone know of a so-called independent review by a law firm that found the employer was completely un-justified in its actions (and thus potentially liable for serious monetary damages). I suspect that would be the last time said  firm was hired to do an independent investigation.  Frankly, I’m no fan of Juan Williams but  come on NPR … Adopt clear policies and processes for NPR’ employees and apply them uniformly.  PGB

NPR Senior Analyst Juan Williams, a ten-year veteran of public radio, received a telephone call last August from NPR Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss saying, in effect, “You’re Fired.”

True, Mr. Williams had made some incredibly stupid comments on Fox News about getting nervous on airplanes when he sees individuals dressed in Muslim garb. But is he the only NPR pundit who has made inane comments in pursuit of political punditry? No. And  don’t employees have a right to due process and to be treated civilly and with basic human dignity in the termination process?

NPR issued a report on the firing on Jan. 6, 2011 that said (based upon a supposedly independent investigation by a DC law firm paid by NCR) that Williams’ firing was warranted because he worked under a contract that gave both sides the right to terminate on 30 days notice for any reason. However, the report also states that NPR Chief Executive Officer Vivian Schiller wouldn’t be getting her bonus this year because of concern over the way Williams’ termination was handled and that Ms. Weiss was … er … resigning.

According to the report:

“— Williams’ contract was terminated in accordance with its terms. The contract gave both parties the right to terminate on 30 days’ notice for any reason. The facts gathered during the review revealed that the termination was not the result of special interest group or donor pressure. However, because of concerns regarding the speed and handling of the termination process, the Board additionally recommended that certain actions be taken with regard to management involved in Williams’ contract termination.

“In light of the review and feedback provided to them, the Board has adopted recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that surfaced with the review. The recommendations and remedial measures range from new internal procedures concerning personnel and on air-talent decisions to taking appropriate disciplinary action with respect to certain management employees involved in the termination… ”

NPR Ombudsman David Folkenflik later stated the law firm that NPR hired to conduct the review: “found that the termination of Williams’ contract was entirely legal. But the board said the report called for a full review of the company’s policies on ethics and outside appearances and for them to be applied consistently to all personnel.”