NPR Suspends Editor Who Issued Scathing Critique

Uri Berliner has received 'final warning'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
NPR Suspends Editor After Scathing Critique
The headquarters for National Public Radio (NPR) stands on North Capitol Street on April 15, 2013, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The NPR editor who issued a scathing critique of his employer has now been suspended by the media outlet. NPR announced the move Tuesday, saying Uri Berliner was being "formally punished" for his essay with a five-day unpaid suspension that started Friday. Berliner's complaint that NPR has a left-wing bias was countered in a memo to staffers written by the outlet's editor-in-chief, and in its story announcing Berliner's punishment, NPR says Berliner's essay "angered many of his colleagues, led NPR leaders to announce monthly internal reviews of the network's coverage, and gave fresh ammunition to conservative and partisan Republican critics of NPR, including ... Donald Trump."

  • USA Today reports Berliner received a formal rebuke because he had not received the required approval to write for another news outlet. He was also accused of releasing confidential proprietary information about audience demographics in his essay. Per USA Today, the rebuke was said to be Berliner's "final warning," with any future violations of NPR policies resulting in termination. Berliner tells NPR he is not appealing the disciplinary action.
  • The essay also ramped up criticism of NPR's CEO and president Katherine Maher, who just stepped into the role last month, and whose past social media posts are being called "hyper-partisan" and "woke." In a statement responding to Berliner's essay, Maher says, "In America everyone is entitled to free speech as a private citizen. What matters is NPR's work and my commitment as its CEO: public service, editorial independence, and the mission to serve all of the American public. NPR is independent, beholden to no party, and without commercial interests." NPR also clarified that Maher is not involved in editorial decisions.

  • Per the Hill, one of Berliner's colleagues who has spoken out against his essay is Steve Inskeep, who wrote on Substack Tuesday that Berliner's essay included errors and assumptions. "If Uri's 'larger point' is that journalists should seek wider perspectives, and not just write stories that confirm their prior opinions, his article is useful as an example of what to avoid," the Morning Edition co-host wrote.
  • Fox News contributor Juan Williams, who himself was fired by NPR in 2010, says Berliner "spoke a truth" about the outlet. "They are very sensitive to criticism, even though … they say, 'oh, they're all for being open-minded.' I think what Uri Berliner's pointed out is they're not that open-minded, and I think that … he may want to move on," Williams says.
(More National Public Radio stories.)

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