NPR Faces Internal Turmoil Over Bias Claims

In a startling development at National Public Radio (NPR), CEO Katherine Maher’s recent comments have sparked controversy regarding the role of truth in journalism. Speaking from her experience as the former head of Wikipedia, Maher suggested at a 2021 TED Talk that truth can be a “distraction” in achieving objectives, particularly in contentious areas such as politics and religion.

Maher explained that Wikipedia’s crowd-sourced model, which allows users to modify content, serves well even in divisive discussions. This model led to instances such as author J.K. Rowling being labeled “transphobic” on the platform.

“The best of what we can know right now doesn’t necessarily include focusing on the truth but rather on finding common ground and getting things done,” Maher stated.

This philosophy has carried over into her tenure at NPR, where she has positioned the pursuit of truth as potentially obstructive. “Seeking the truth and seeking to convince others of the truth might not be the right place to start,” Maher noted, emphasizing multiple “truths” shaped by personal experiences and beliefs.

“This is because the truth of the matter is very often for many people, what happens when we merge facts about the world with our beliefs about the world. So we all have different truths. They’re based on things like where we come from, how we were raised, and how other people perceive,” Maher added.

The implications of Maher’s stance have resonated within NPR, culminating in the Wednesday resignation of Uri Berliner, a veteran editor and reporter. Berliner, who served NPR for 25 years, stepped down after his recent suspension and public denouncement of the network’s liberal bias. He announced his resignation in a Wednesday morning post on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

“I am resigning from NPR, a great American institution where I have worked for 25 years. I don’t support calls to defend NPR. I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism. But I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cited in my Free Press essay,” Berliner wrote.

The political culture at NPR points out wider concerns about bias and the role of truth in journalism — especially when the work is funded by taxpayer dollars.