Sen. Rick Scott demands fairness at NPR, alleges liberal bias eroding trust

by | May 7, 2024

Sen. Rick Scott expressed concerns about potential biases within NPR, urging the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to ensure the network’s objectivity and trustworthiness in news reporting.

Sen. Rick Scott expressed concerns on Monday over alleged biases within National Public Radio (NPR) in a letter addressed to the Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

In a letter addressed to Laura Ross, the Chair of the CPB, Scott raised apprehensions about the potential erosion of public trust in NPR’s commitment to delivering objective, fact-based journalism. He pointed to “disturbing allegations of bias” and raised the possibility that NPR’s leadership might be disproportionately favoring liberal narratives. NPR CEO Katherine Maher has attracted attention in recent weeks for her outspoken personal views, which lean significantly Democratic and have been openly shared on social media over the years.

“As the organization charged with funding NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), I urge you to use your position as the chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to restore public trust in NPR and ensure objectivity in news operations funded by American taxpayers,” Scott wrote.

Scott subsequently appealed to the value of local NPR affiliates, particularly their role in disseminating vital information during emergencies such as hurricanes in Florida. He cautioned that the perceived national bias could jeopardize the credibility of local stations, which he cited as useful tools to “shed light on important issues.”

“Floridians must be reassured that the objective reporting we have come to expect and appreciate from local NPR affiliates, and the confidence that they have in these stations, will be maintained,” he said. “The same is true for local PBS stations. Public broadcasting services funded by American taxpayers cannot be politicized.”

Scott’s request to the CPB included the implementation transparency measures and ensuring that public broadcasting remains neutral, reflecting broader national conversations about media impartiality amidst political polarization.

“Any assertion that NPR or any other taxpayer-funded public broadcasting services have deviated from this standard must be addressed swiftly and transparently,” he concluded with.

A group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Kevin Cramer and joined by others including Sen. John Barrasso and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, expressed “deep concerns” last week about perceived ideological bias at NPR, pointing to a lack of ideological diversity in editorial roles and accusing the organization of ethical failure.

“If NPR’s goal was to become an echo chamber, mission accomplished. But as a publicly funded entity, you are responsible for providing impartial coverage that accurately informs all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. This objective is decidedly difficult when nearly 100 percent of employees in Washington, DC congregate on one side of the political aisle,” the senators said, referencing a inquiry by former former NPR senior editor Uri Berliner that found 87 registered Democrats in editorial roles at the publisher’s Washington headquarters and no Republicans.

Last year, The Capitolist Publisher Brian Burgess critiqued a broadcast by NPR’s Florida affiliate, “The Florida Roundup,” an hour-long program heavily criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education policies, over its disproportionate featuring of predominantly liberal voices without opposition representation. The show discussed topics such as the state’s disapproval of a controversial AP African American history program and alleged felony charges against teachers for their classroom libraries, painting these actions as ideologically driven.


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