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The National Public Radio (NPR) is a media outlet that primarily provides broadcasting services within the United States. The difference between NPR and Politico, CNN, Fox News, or any other mainstream media communications company is that this organization is public and is supported by taxpayer dollars.
Founded in 1970 through a law enacted by former President Lyndon Johnson, NPR is sustained by Americans because it’s supposed to be a non-profit, independent journalistic company focused on working for the common good.
In 2012, NPR presented its new code of ethics. On its website, the media outlet published a summary of what the document says and also states that the organization’s mission “is to create a more informed public, challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and culture within the United States and around the world.”
In terms of its code, there are a number of principles that should be unassailable, such as accuracy, fairness, integrity, honesty, independence, respect, impartiality, among others.
According to NPR itself, all of its journalists “must read and follow the guidelines in this manual,” including its guest writers.
“The principles apply to material that comes to NPR from independent producers, member station journalists, outside writers, commentators and visual journalists. Finally, producers of stand-alone programs acquired by NPR and the staffs of those shows should also study and apply the ethical principles and guidance in this handbook.”NPR guideline
However, for several years now, conservatives have been unhappy with NPR’s work. According to a Pew Research Center study, National Public Radio’s trust rating among Republican voters is extremely low: only 12% consider it their primary news source. By contrast, 87% of Democrats say NPR is their primary source of information. The gap is huge, and bias content to blame.
NPR’s biased content
National Public Radio publishes content based on progressive ideological leanings that have little to do with NPR’s purpose.
Last June 13, Eric Deggans–an NPR journalist since 2013 and recognized for “his coverage of race-related issues”–wrote a column about Tom Hanks where he basically calls on the actor to be an anti-racism activist.
Deggans argues that Hanks, despite not being a racist and having certain liberal-progressive views that he likes, should go full-tilt for the anti-racist cause because he too has benefited throughout his career from roles where patriotism is highlighted and the “exceptionalism” of the white American male is extolled.
That’s not exactly the kind of unbiased content NPR should have, beyond being in the opinion section, the code of ethics is pretty clear: National Public Radio journalists must be unbiased, exceptional and look for both sides of the coin at virtually all times.
With former President Trump, NPR also exposed its more partisan side. On a radio program, the question for listeners was: is Trump really a racist?
The program did not directly answer whether Trump is racist or not, but they did say that he pushed policies that “marginalized people of color” and that there were presidents equal or more racist than Trump himself since the United States “is a country built on the genocide of Native Americans and slavery.” In this way, the broadcast became an entire program in which there was not even a conservative counterpoint, much less a space for anyone who thought differently.
In the case of the alleged crackdown in Lafayette Park, many progressive media said that Trump had ordered the “crackdown” on “peaceful protesters” so that the former president could have his picture taken near a church in the vicinity of the White House.
However, the news turned out to be false and inaccurate. According to a report by the Interior Department’s inspector general made it clear that Trump did not order the use of force against protesters. However, NPR used the (fake) news for an entire month to run stories against the former president.
National Public Radio also has well-positioned on its website a guide to using inclusive pronouns intended for people who “don’t identify” as female or male. Only Democrats and liberals, in general, tend to give validity to this sort of terminology.
Not only articles that can be construed as anti-conservative, NPR now also publishes tweets mocking capitalism as if it were an anti-capitalist meme site.
The problem with NPR is that by its characteristics and internal rules it is a medium that should be limited to presenting information, hard facts or investigations, but NPR journalists analyze and opine with ideological bias. For example, Deggans’ aforementioned column is no different at all from a New York Times column or CNN coverage. That becomes a problem when it comes to a public media outlet funded by all Americans.
For this reason, there is a call for defunding NPR by conservative organizations.
In March 2011, the Heritage Foundation published an article titled “Defunding NPR”, there they briefly explain that “Journalist James O’Keefe captured an NPR official calling the Tea Party “racist, racist people” and that this was confirmation “that there is a culture of hatred for conservatives at NPR, but members of the Tea Party movement are forced to contribute tax dollars to an organization that demonizes them.”
In another much more recent article (from 2017), Heritage itself published another review explaining why taxpayers should no longer be forced to fund public broadcasting.
“NPR and PBS insist that they are merely reporting the news without bias. And it is true that NPR, PBS and other stations do not broadcast government propaganda. (If they did, they wouldn’t be so hard on the Trump administration),” reads Mike Gonzalez’s column. “What they do represent are the views of a particular group – those of the politically correct left-wing elite – whose assumptions frame public affairs programming on public broadcasting.”
The Knight Foundation similarly published an extensive report on why public broadcasting should be defunded. One of the arguments cited in the article is that the government should not have a role in funding public media.
The arguments of both the Knight Foundation and the Heritage Foundation, or indeed any conservative constituent who is unhappy with NPR, are not dissimilar to the opinion of Thomas Jefferson himself who said long ago that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
Jefferson’s maxim is one of the premises used to drive the #DefundNPR movement, a campaign that expresses something crystal clear and unobjectionable: Americans should not fund any partisan propaganda out of their pocket. It is time to demand the defunding of National Public Radio.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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