OpinionTrending Commentary

The Elite’s Smug Sophistry Defending NPR’s Anti-Trump Bias

The smug world of public radio in the United States received a smart slap in the face last week … delivered by Uri Berliner, a long-time NPR reporter, who went public with his inside story of how NPR cooks the news. NPR responded by suspending him and then securing his resignation. As this unfolded, NPR’s recently appointed president, Katherine Maher, faced ridicule for her own past statements.

                        “How NPR became a National Laughing Stock,” The Spectator, Ap 22, 2024

NPR’s award-winning editor Uri Berliner created quite a stir with his claim that with the election of Donald Trump, taxpayer funded NPR graduated from mere “liberal” advocacy to attempting actually to hurt the Trump administration.  In a debate with Tomi Lahren on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz, Lucy Caldwell of Renew Democracy provided sophistical arguments in support of NPR’s indefensible position, further exposing “mainstream” media arrogance and bias.  First, however, a few points about Kurtz and Renew Democracy.

Longtime media personality, almost impossible to dislike, Howard Kurtz, used to host CNN’s Reliable Sources 1998-2013 where it appeared to be his job to argue that anti-conservative media basis is not really as bad as it transparently seems to be.  However, since arriving at Foxnews, Kurtz does display more, if not perfect, balance in his coverage.

Caldwell’s “arguments” in the debate with Lahren are more understandable if one knows, first, that she used to work at NPR herself on the anti-Trump Diane Rhem show and, second, that her organization Renew Democracy is misnamed.  Renew Democracy was founded by Russia born former World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov in 2017 right after the election of Donald Trump.  Apparently, it was necessary to “renew democracy,” so to speak, after the peasants elected the wrong person in 2016.  In March 2016, using Democrat Party talking points, Kasparov described Trump, as a “celebrity showman with racist leanings and authoritarian tendencies” and a “complete lack of intelligible policies” (which is a tad odd since current polls indicate the peasants, should they be of any importance anymore, much prefer Trump’s policies to Biden’s).  Renew Democracy’s advisors also include anti-Trumper’s Bret Stephens and Bill Kristol and former RNC Chair Michael Steele and gay British comedian Stephen Fry who has opined on the “gangster criminality of Trump” that “everybody [except everybody that disagrees with Fry] knows is true,” the anti-Trump president of Spain 1996-2004, José Maria Aznar, Ukrainian born Israeli Natan Sharansky who strongly criticized Trump over his alleged Muslim ban (not really a Muslim ban: it was a country, not a religion, ban) and says that he cannot understand why women vote for Trump.  When, by the way, did women elect Sharansky as their spokesperson?  One somewhat surprising member is former World Series of Poker Champion in 2004, Annie Duke, who co-authored an article with Kasparov in which they offer advice how to “save democracy” after Trump is gone.  In other words, “Renew Democracy” is a euphemism for “anti-Trump”.  It is already becoming clear, even before considering Caldwell’s specific arguments, why she would defend NPR’s anti-Trump bias even to the point of absurdity. 

Caldwell’s specific arguments in defence of NPR’s anti-Trump bias are not what a logician or philosopher would call “tight”.   She begins:

NPR did not fire [Berliner] and he did sasomething unprecedented and very abnormal which is to go freewheeling, sort of like, self-directed, go right for a different outlet, trashing his employer, that is not normal, he’s not a media reporter, not an ombudsman. A lot of the things he’s saying about NPR may very well be correct but this was not his beat.  He’s not a person whose beat is to cover NPR.

The suppressed principle here is that it is only appropriate to criticize a media organization, including one’s own, if that is “one’s beat,” if one is a “media reporter” or if one is an ombudsman.  One wonders where Caldwell found this principle?  We are breathlessly waiting to hear whether she would apply this principle to Gretchen Carlson or Megyn Kelly who criticized Foxnews, bringing down Roger Ailes.  Quite surprisingly, one cannot recall Lucy criticizing Carlson or Kelly that this was not “their beat”.

And if one should not criticize a media organization unless it is “one’s beat” or if one is a “media reporter” or ombudsman, should not the converse principle also hold true, that one should not praise a media organization unless it is “one’s beat” or one is a “media reporter” or ombudsman.  But then why is Caldwell defending NPR when her “beat” is political advocacy and tech and “renewing democracy”, not, like Kurtz, covering media organizations.  This illustrates the common principle that “liberals” never even think of applying their own principles to themselves. 

Caldwell’s second argument is that “certainly [Berliner’s] beat was not to cover NPR in a different outlet.”  The reply to this is simple.  The reason Berliner went to a different outlet to expose NPR’s massive anti-Trump bias is that he was getting nowhere at NPR.   Caldwell would have Berliner criticize NPR’s bias only if NPR agreed to let him do it, a nice deal for biased media organizations, ensuring that the bias is allowed to remain.

            Caldwell’s continues:

As for the funding thing, I really want to double click on that.  You can take aim at the fact that there are lots of things that are funded federally that you don’t like.  But if you’re going to take aim at NPR you should take aim at VOA, you should take aim at Radio Free Europe and you should take aim at all the other things that are funded by the US government that are partisan [like] Christian funded crisis pregnancy centers. … Let’s not just pick and choose, ok?

This is a “red herring fallacy”. The fact that there are other federally funded organizations like VOA, Radio Free Europe and Christan crisis pregnancy centers that are allegedly partisan has got nothing to do with the fact that it is inappropriate that NPR is federally funded but is so enormously biased.  What part of the word “national” (in “National Public Radio”), which also includes conservatives, does Caldwell not understand?

Second, there are major differences between VOA and Radio Free Europe whose audiences are primarily outside the country while NPR is aimed mainly at Americans  (potential voters).  In addition, it is not clear in what sense Christian crisis pregnancy centers are “partisan” since they do no discriminate on the basis of political affiliation.  Christian crisis pregnancy centers, being Christian, do not turn anybody away. 

Leaving aside Caldwell’s “red herrings”, there is one unassailable reason why NPR should be fair and non-partisan, namely, that the The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 requires the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which subsumes NPR, to operate with a “strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature,” regularly review national programming for objectivity and balance and report on “its efforts to address concerns about objectivity and balance”.   In violation of that act, NPR displays no concern whatsoever about objectivity and balance.  Berliner reports that, laughably, NPR’s D.C. office has 87 Democrats and 0 Republicans on its staff.  The entitled elite’s attempt to defend taxpayer support for such transparent bias only serves to display again the absurd lengths they will go to in order to keep everything rigged in their direction

Agree/Disagree with the author(s)? Let them know in the comments below and be heard by 10’s of thousands of CDN readers each day!

Support Conservative Daily News with a small donation via Paypal or credit card that will go towards supporting the news and commentary you've come to appreciate.

Richard McDonough

Richard Michael McDonough, American philosophy educator. Achievements include production of original interpretation of Wittgenstein’s logical-metaphysical system, original application Kantian Copernican Revolution to philosophy of language; significant interdisciplinary work logic, linguistics, psychology & philosophy. Member Australasian Debating Federation (honorary life, adjudicator since 1991), Phi Kappa Phi.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button