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New NPR CEO responds to editor's claims it 'lost America's trust'

National Public Radio’s (NPR)’s new CEO denounced claims from a senior editor that the outlet has “lost America’s trust,” calling the comments made in an op-ed “disrespectful” and “hurtful.”

Katherine Maher explained in a message to employees Friday that the editor, Uri Berliner, called the outlet’s mission into question in two ways: Critiquing the quality and integrity of the editorial process, and criticizing “who we are.”

“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,” she 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.”

Berliner, who has worked for NPR for more than 20 years, published an op-ed in The Free Press earlier this week, arguing that those who listen or read the outlets coverage are only getting “the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population.”

He also claimed the news organization, which has been critiqued as having a leftward bend, has “lack of viewpoint diversity,” as well as “an unspoken consensus about the stories we should pursue and how they should be framed.”

“It’s frictionless—one story after another about instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies. It’s almost like an assembly line,” the editor wrote.

Maher pushed back on his view in her letter Friday, saying it is “simplistic” to assert that diversity in the U.S. can be “reduced to any particular set of beliefs.”

She added that it is “faulty reasoning” to infer identity is “determinative of one’s thoughts or political leanings.”

“Each of our colleagues are here because they are excellent, accomplished professionals with an intense commitment to our work: we are stronger because of the work we do together, and we owe each other our utmost respect,” Maher said. “We fulfill our mission best when we look and sound like the country we serve.” 

The opinion column also sparked backlash from others in NPR leadership.

Former President Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House, responded differently. In a Truth Social post following the editorial, he called on the government to stop funding NPR over the perceived bias.

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