NPR controversies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
NPR
Type Public radio network
Country United States
First air date
April 1971
Availability Global
Founded 1970February 26, 1970
Endowment US$258 million
Revenue US$159 million
US$18.9 million
Owner National Public Radio, Inc.
Key people
Kevin Klose, President Emeritus
Joyce Slocum (interim), President and Chief Executive Officer
Mitch Praver, Chief Operating Officer
Former names
Association of Public Radio Stations
National Educational Radio Network
Affiliation World Radio Network
Official website
npr.org

NPR, formerly National Public Radio,[1][2] is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to 797 public radio stations in the United States of America.[3] Various allegations of bias, both from conservative and liberal sources, and controversies have arisen throughout NPR's history.

Allegations of ideological bias[edit]

Allegations of bias against Israel[edit]

NPR has been criticised for perceived bias in its coverage of Israel.[4][5][6][7] The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a pro-Israel American media monitoring organization based in Boston, has been particularly critical of NPR. CAMERA director Andrea Levin has stated, "We consider NPR to be the most seriously biased mainstream media outlet," a statement that The Boston Globe describes as having "clearly gotten under her target's skin."[7] NPR's then-Ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, said in a 2002 interview that CAMERA used selective citations and subjective definitions of what it considers pro-Palestinian bias in formulating its findings, and that he felt CAMERA's campaign was "a kind of McCarthyism, frankly, that bashes us and causes people to question our commitment to doing this story fairly. And it exacerbates the legitimate anxieties of many in the Jewish community about the survival of Israel."[8]

Allegations of elitism and the status quo[edit]

A 2004 FAIR study concluded that "NPR’s guestlist shows the radio service relies on the same elite and influential sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, and falls short of reflecting the diversity of the American public."[9]

Noam Chomsky has criticized NPR as being biased toward ideological power and the status quo. He alleges that the parameters of debate on a given topic are very consciously curtailed. He says that since the network maintains studios in ideological centers of opinion such as Washington, the network feels the necessity to carefully consider what kinds of dissenting opinion are acceptable. Thus, political pragmatism, perhaps induced by fear of offending public officials who control some of the NPR's funding (via CPB), often determines what views are suitable for broadcast, meaning that opinions critical of the structures of national-interest-based foreign policy, capitalism, and government bureaucracies (entailed by so-called "radical" or "activist" politics) usually do not make it to air.[10]

Study results[edit]

Consumers of information from NPR contend that NPR does its job well. A study conducted in 2003 by the polling firm Knowledge Networks and the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes showed that those who get their news and information from public broadcasting (NPR and PBS) are better informed than those whose information comes from other media outlets. In one study, NPR and PBS audiences had a more accurate understanding of the events in Iraq versus all audiences for cable and broadcast TV networks and the print media.[11][12]

Controversies[edit]

Mumia Abu-Jamal commentaries[edit]

In 1994, NPR arranged to air commentaries by convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal on All Things Considered, but cancelled them after the Fraternal Order of Police and members of the U. S. Congress objected to the airing.[13]

Andrei Codrescu comment[edit]

On the December 19, 1995, broadcast of All Things Considered, NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu reported that some Christians believe in a "rapture" and 4 million believers will ascend to Heaven immediately. He continued, "The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place."[14]

NPR subsequently apologized for Codrescu's comment, saying, "Those remarks offended listeners and crossed a line of taste and tolerance that we should have defended with greater vigilance." Executive Producer Ellen Weiss said the incident would not sever NPR's relationship with Codrescu.[15]

Juan Williams termination[edit]

On October 20, 2010, NPR terminated Senior News Analyst Juan Williams's independent contract[16] after comments about Muslims which were referred to as "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR". Williams' remarks were made on the Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor where he concurred with statements suggesting that the United States was facing a "Muslim dilemma". He also said, "I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous." Furthermore, referring to comments made by a Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty to trying to plant a car bomb in Times Square, Williams said "He said the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts."[17]

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller defended NPR's decision by asserting that Williams has a history of making controversial comments in violation of NPR's ethics policy, with commentary expressed on Fox News and in newspaper opinion pieces. He was previously admonished for comments he made about US First-Lady Michelle Obama, "she's got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking ... her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross."[18][19] This was far from an isolated incident, and Williams’ appearances on Fox News had caused repeated problems for NPR over the last few years. Williams had also "been warned several times that [Bill] O’Reilly is a professional provocateur and to be careful."[20] Williams and others have said that in firing him, NPR exhibited a double standard by not firing other NPR people like Andrei Codrescu for his comment about Christians who believe in a rapture and Nina Totenberg for her 1995 comments about Senator Jesse Helms and AIDS.[21][22]

After NPR announced his ouster, Alicia Shepard, NPR's ombudsman, said that the firing could have been handled better. She opined that Williams could have been given a chance to explain himself to NPR's management or been suspended pending review of his case. However, she agreed with NPR's decision, saying "the fact remains that NPR must uphold its journalistic standards, which, after all, provide the basis that earned public radio's reputation for quality."[20] "Probably the better thing for NPR to have done is to have said 'Juan the situation is not working,'" Shepard said, noting that Williams could have been given a choice: "If he wanted to stay at NPR, he would have to stop doing commentary on Fox News Channel. Or, if he preferred to continue with Fox, he and NPR could part ways." Schiller told an audience at the Atlanta Press Club that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist". Later, Schiller placed a post on the NPR website "I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark”.[23] Although a number of prominent conservatives, including Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich have renewed long-standing calls that NPR lose Federal funding that it currently receives,[24] donations from NPR listener-members during NPR's October fundraising drive remained unaffected in the first 3 days.[24] FOX News granted Williams a new $2 million, three-year contract with an expanded role at their network. FOX has been heavily promoting the incident "with hourly reports about the controversy on both its news and opinion programs."[24] Bill O'Reilly has accused NPR of bias in firing Williams.[25]

It was determined after an external review by legal counsel that Williams was properly terminated according to the terms of his contract, which gave both parties the right to terminate on 30 days notice for any reason, and the termination was not the result of special interest group or donor pressure. The board of directors also adopted recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that surfaced with the review, including new internal procedures concerning personnel and on air-talent decisions, and disciplinary action with respect to certain management employees involved in the termination. These measures included Ellen Weiss, the Senior Vice President who fired Juan Williams, stepping down on January 6, 2011 under what is believed to be substantial pressure from more senior management, and CEO Vivian Schiller not being awarded her 2010 bonus.[26][27]

Ronald Schiller[edit]

In March, 2011 conservative political provocateur James O'Keefe sent partners Simon Templar (a nom de plume not to be confused with the fictional character) and Shaughn Adeleye[28] to secretly record their discussion with Ronald Schiller, NPR's then-senior vice president for fundraising, and his associate, the senior director of institutional giving at NPR, Betsy Liley. The NPR executives were misled that they would be meeting with representatives of a self-described Muslim group, Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC), that wished to donate money to NPR, "partly out of concern for the defunding process the Republicans are trying to engage in." On the recording, Schiller indicates that he is sharing his personal point of view, not NPR’s, saying he'll "talk personally, as opposed to wearing my NPR hat";[29] then he contrasted the fiscally conservative Republican party of old that didn't get involved in people's personal and family lives with "the current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, that is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian—I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of move."[30][31] Schiller said some highly placed Republicans believed the Republican Party had been hijacked by this radical group, and characterized them as "Islamophobic" and "seriously racist, racist people". Later in the recording, Schiller said he believes NPR "would be better off in the long run without federal funding, and the challenge right now is that we'd have a lot of stations go dark", explaining that removal of federal funding would allow NPR more independence, and remove the widely held misconception that NPR is significantly funded by the public. Subsequent analysis of the raw videos showed that the clips were heavily edited to present only one point of view, and that much of the context of the conversation was changed.[32]

According to NPR, Schiller's comments are in direct conflict with NPR's official position and they called his comments appalling. They also stated that, "The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept." A second recording released a couple days later by O'Keefe showed that after phone and e-mail communications, Betsy Liley checked with senior manangement and said that although MEAC had been cleared to legally make donations anonymously, additional background information was required before a donation could be accepted, including an IRS Form 990.[33][34][35] Schiller had submitted his resignation on January 24, before the recorded meeting, and announced a week before the video was released that he was leaving NPR for a position at the Aspen Institute, but he was immediately put on "administrative leave" by NPR.[36][37][38][39][40][41] The next day NPR's CEO Vivian Schiller (who is not related) announced she was resigning her position, effective immediately.[42] Ronald Schiller made his resignation from NPR effective immediately on the evening of the video's release and the next day decided also to cede his new position at the Aspen Institute.[43][44][45]

Vivian Schiller[edit]

NPR announced that CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned after controversial comments made by NPR's former top fundraising executive, Ron Schiller (no relation to Vivian) came to light in a secret video. A statement released Wednesday by NPR's board of directors said the resignation by Vivian Schiller, who also faced criticism last fall for the dismissal of commentator Juan Williams, was accepted. But, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik tells Morning Edition host Renee Montagne that his sources were telling him that the CEO was forced out.[46]

Dave Edwards, chairman of NPR's board, said directors came to the conclusion that the controversies under Schiller's watch had become such a distraction that she could no longer effectively lead the organization. She had told the directors that they should take the action they felt was appropriate, and Edwards said the board decided it would be best for her to depart.[47]

According to a CEO succession plan adopted by the Board in 2009, Joyce Slocum, SVP of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, has been appointed to the position of Interim CEO. The Board will immediately establish an Executive Transition Committee that will develop a timeframe and process for the recruitment and selection of new leadership.[47]

Tax money used for subsidy and lobbying[edit]

NPR's listeners are, according to NPR itself and emphasized by NPR in talks with potential NPR sponsors, substantially wealthier than the average American. David Boaz criticizes what he sees as NPR's transfer of income from the middle class to the upper middle class.[48][49] Boaz also criticizes NPR's use of tax-subsidized programs in order to lobby for additional tax funds by airing numerous advertisements urging its listeners to call Congress regarding NPR.[48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Public Radio is changing its name to NPRWashington Post, July 8, 2010
  2. ^ National Public Radio is now just NPR. Can nothing stop this move toward abbreviations?LA Times, 12 Jul 2010
  3. ^ "How NPR Works: NPR's Mission Statement". NPR. Archived from the original on 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  4. ^ David Mamet (2008-03-11). "> news > David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' by David Mamet". village voice. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  5. ^ "The Ombudsman at National Public Radio". Npr.org. 2002-01-05. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  6. ^ Bydlowska, Jowita (2008-02-12). "Journalism's last line of defense — The New York Times". Salon.com. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  7. ^ a b "Blaming the Messenger, Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe, Feb. 9, 2003". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  8. ^ Camille T. Taiara. All bias considered: Bizarre attack on NPR as "anti-Israel" shows how fringe groups are pushing Mideast debate. San Francisco Bay Guardian. May 28, 2003. See also Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, "NPR's Middle East 'Problem,'", NPR: Archive of Ombudsman Columns February 22, 2002, accessed July 21, 2006. [In June 2006 Dvorkin left the position of NPR Ombudsman to become the executive director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ), an organization founded by Bill Kovach as part of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ), effective July 1, 2006; see Dvorkin's last column as NPR Ombudsman, "Dear Listeners: Thanks and Farewell," and CEJ/CCJ press release, June 19, 2006.
  9. ^ Steve Rendall & Daniel Butterworth, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, June 2004. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  10. ^ "Secrets, Lies and Democracy (Interviews with Noam Chomsky)". Books.zcommunications.org. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  11. ^ Janssen, Mike (2003-10-20). "Pubcasting helps audience sort fact, fiction". Current.org. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  12. ^ "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War". WorldPublicOpinion.org. 2003-10-02. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  13. ^ "Judge Dismisses Inmate's Suit Against NPR". The Washington Post. 22 August 1997. 
  14. ^ "NPR apologizes for Codrescu's remark that 'crossed a line of tolerance'". Washington, D.C.: [[Current (newspaper)|]]. 1996-01-15. 
  15. ^ "NPR replies to 40,000 complaints about Codrescu broadcast". 
  16. ^ Stanglin, Doug (2010-10-21). "Update: NPR exec says Juan Williams crossed the line before". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  17. ^ Stelter, Brian (2010-10-20). "NPR Fires Analyst Over Comments on Muslims". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  18. ^ Folkenflik, David (2010-10-21). "NPR Dismisses News Analyst Juan Williams". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  19. ^ "'Juan Williams, NPR, and Fox News'". NPR Ombudsman (blog). NPR. February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  20. ^ a b Shepard, Alicia (2010-10-21). "NPR's Firing of Juan Williams Was Poorly Handled". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  21. ^ Bond, Paul (25 October 2010). "Ambush-Journalist Confronts NPR CEO About Firing of Juan Williams". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  22. ^ Hohmann, James (27 October 2010). "Jesse Jackson condemns Williams firing". Politico. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  23. ^ Memmott, Mark (2010-10-20). "NPR CEO: Williams' Views Should Stay Between Himself And 'His Psychiatrist'". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-10-21. 
  24. ^ a b c Stelter, Brian (2010-10-23). "NPR Defends Firing Williams as Criticism Mounts". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  25. ^ O'Reilly, Bill (2010-10-21). "A Disgraceful Decision by the National Public Radio Outfit". Fox News. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  26. ^ NPR Executive Who Fired Juan Williams Steps Down; The Hollywood Reporter; January 6, 2011
  27. ^ "NPR Announces Completion of Review of the Termination of Juan Williams' Contract". NPR. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  28. ^ Hagey, Keach (March 8, 2011). "NPR exec: tea party is ‘scary,’ ‘racist’". Politico. 
  29. ^ Stelter, Brian; Jensen, Elizabeth (2011-03-08). "NPR Official Is Taped Criticizing Republicans". The New York Times. 
  30. ^ Weigel, David (March 8, 2011). "James O'Keefe versus NPR". Slate (magazine). 
  31. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (March 8, 2011). "Ron Schiller, Former NPR Fundraiser, Caught On Tape Bashing Tea Party, Questioning Need For Federal Funds". Huffington Post. 
  32. ^ Does Raw Video of NPR Expose Reveal Questionable Editing Tactics?; The Blaze; March 10, 2011
  33. ^ New Video - NPR Was Going to Accept Muslim Education Action Center Donation and Hide It From Government?; Daily Caller; March 10, 2011
  34. ^ Lithwick, Dahlia (2011-03-10). "NPR Publishes E-Mails From Top Staff Stating Problems With "Muslim Group's" Offer of $5 Million". Slate.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  35. ^ David Weigel (2011-03-10). "New NPR Sting Video Proves That Controversial Donors Are Allowed to Donate Anonymously". Slate. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  36. ^ Video of Ronald Schiller Veritas Project; March 8, 2011
  37. ^ "What James O'Keefe's Latest Video Means for NPR Funding". Theatlantic.com. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  38. ^ "NPR executive calls Tea Party supporters 'racist'". Content.usatoday.com. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  39. ^ Memmott, Mark (2011-03-08). "In Video: NPR Exec Slams Tea Party, Questions Need For Federal Funds". Npr.org. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  40. ^ Stelter, Brian (2011-03-08). "NPR Executive Caught Calling Tea Partiers ‘Racist’". Mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  41. ^ "NPR exec caught on tape calling Tea Partiers 'racist'". Today.msnbc.msn.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  42. ^ Mark Memmott (2011-03-09). ""NPR CEO Vivian Schiller resigns"". NPR. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  43. ^ Russel Adama (2011-03-09). "NPR Executive Cedes New Role at Aspen Institute". WSJ. 
  44. ^ Memmott, Mark (2011-03-09). "CEO Vivian Schiller Resigns After Board Decides She Should Go : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  45. ^ "NPR Exec Caught on Camera Slamming Tea Party, Republicans". Fox News. 2011-03-08. 
  46. ^ "Vivian Schiller, CEO Of NPR, Steps Down". National Public Radio. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  47. ^ a b Vivian Schiller, CEO Of NPR, Steps Down>"NPR CEO Vivian Schiller Resigns After Board Decides She Should Go". National Public Radio. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  48. ^ a b Boaz, David (June 27, 2005). "End taxpayer funding of public broadcasting". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 5, 2011. 
  49. ^ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, United States Senate Appropriations Committee, Testimony by David Boaz, July 11, 2005