Belated Search for ‘Broad Range of Views’ Not Enough to Save NPR
National Public Radio has come as close as it can possibly get to admitting that it’s a biased news organization and that it must take steps to remedy this situation. It’s a welcome acknowledgment, one we must charitably accept even if NPR made it under duress after coming under withering criticism for firing veteran journalist Juan Williams.
Hopefully, NPR did not take this step to stave off congressional attempts to withdraw its public funding. Its mea culpa does not change one iota the need for Congress to defund this anachronism.
The admission, such as it was, came in two decisions announced yesterday by the NPR Board of Directors after a long “review into the facts and circumstances leading to the termination of NPR’s contract with senior news analyst Juan Williams.”
The first was the dismissal of Ellen Weiss, the Senior Vice President for News who fired Mr. Williams back in October—a woman Williams yesterday called NPR’s “enforcer of liberal orthodoxy.”
The second, and more important one, was a Board recommendation that NPR “ensure that its practices encourage a broad range of viewpoints to assist its decision-making, support its mission, and reflect the diversity of its national audiences. The Human Resources Committee of the Board is working in conjunction with key members of NPR management on this issue.”
Not exactly a mandate to hire at least one conservative journalist, but at least acceptance that “a broad range of viewpoints” is sorely lacking at NPR.
Williams, you may remember, was let go last October after saying on FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly show that he felt unease when he saw people in Muslim garb at airports. The firing was not just abrupt but especially unceremonious for a journalist of a decade’s standing at NPR—and despite the fact that Williams (a well-known liberal) went on to say that his misgivings were wrong. The firing kicked off a groundswell of disgust at the leftist bias of NPR reporters and commentators and at the network’s mind-numbing political correctness.
Of course, the Board’s call for including a “broad range of viewpoints” was buried amid a handful of other handwringing over whether NPR journalists should be able to express their views on opinion shows. These proposals miss the mark. The solution to NPR’s stultifying uniformity of liberal opinions is not to make these less transparent. It’s the opposite—to identify them as liberal views and, as the recommendation above makes clear, to make sure that conservative voices are also included in the news room.