NPR Suspends Senior Editor Who Blew Whistle on Network’s Liberal Bias

New CEO Katherine Maher, who pushed back on Uri Berliner's criticism, has justified BLM riots and lamented her 'cis white mobility privilege'

L: Uri Berliner (Twitter) R: (Getty images)
April 16, 2024

NPR suspended senior editor Uri Berliner, who spoke out against NPR's liberal bias, the taxpayer-funded outlet revealed in a story Tuesday morning.

Berliner was suspended for five days without pay, beginning last Friday, NPR reported.

Berliner’s suspension comes after he wrote an op-ed for the Free Press titled, "I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust," in which he detailed how the outlet developed a "devastating" left-wing bias over the years.

"It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding," Berliner wrote. "In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population."

"With declining ratings, sorry levels of trust, and an audience that has become less diverse over time, the trajectory for NPR is not promising," he added later in the op-ed. "Two paths seem clear. We can keep doing what we’re doing, hoping it will all work out. Or we could start over, with the basic building blocks of journalism. We could face up to where we’ve gone wrong. News organizations don’t go in for that kind of reckoning. But there’s a good reason for NPR to be the first: we’re the ones with the word public in our name."

Berliner’s suspension also comes as new NPR CEO Katherine Maher is battling a flurry of criticism for her left-wing activism and inflammatory opinions that she shared on social media.

Maher shrugged off widespread looting and property damage during the 2020 riots, saying it was "hard to be mad" about the destruction in a May 2020 post. "White silence is complicity. If you are white, today is the day to start a conversation in your community," she wrote one day later.

NPR’s report on Berliner’s suspension referred to Maher’s tweets, noting that she "appeared to minimize rioting" in 2020.

In another post, Maher invoked her "cis white mobility privilege" as a reason to help the country get rid of the "spectre of tyranny" following the death of George Floyd.

"Lots of jokes about leaving the US, and I get it. But as someone with cis white mobility privilege, I’m thinking I’m staying and investing in ridding ourselves of this spectre of tyranny," Maher wrote in a July 2020 post.

Berliner’s suspension comes days after chief news executive Edith Chapin wrote in an April 10 statement that the network inclusion among staff is "critical" and that the newsroom will have a discussion on how to "serve the public as a whole."

"We're proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories,"  Chapin wrote. "We believe that inclusion—among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage—is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world."

"None of our work is above scrutiny or critique," Chapin added. "We must have vigorous discussions in the newsroom about how we serve the public as a whole."

Maher herself pushed back on Berliner’s criticism two days later in a memo.

"Asking a question about whether we're living up to our mission should always be fair game: after all, journalism is nothing if not hard questions," Maher wrote. "Questioning whether our people are serving our mission with integrity, based on little more than the recognition of their identity, is profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning."

Maher told the New York Times that "everyone is entitled to free speech as a private citizen," while encouraging Americans to "listen, watch and read our work." "What matters is NPR’s work and my commitment as its C.E.O.: public service, editorial independence and the mission to serve all of the American public," she added. "NPR is independent, beholden to no party, and without commercial interests."

NPR did not return the Washington Free Beacon’s request for comment.