NPR’s Uri Berliner resigns – blasts CEO who sees 1st Amendment used to defend old posts as ‘a challenge’

Government-funded National Public Radio’s own First Amendment foibles took on a new light.

Friday’s official suspension of NPR’s Uri Berliner over an essay in The Free Press over the outlet’s alleged leftist bias marked a new development Wednesday with a formal resignation.

Taking to X, the 25-year veteran editor shared his message to CEO Katherine Maher that read, “I am resigning from NPR, a great American institution where I have worked for 25 years. I don’t support calls to defund 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 cite in my Free Press essay,” indicated Berliner.

Living through lockdowns and seeing the exposure of the censorship and suppression efforts of Big Tech and federal agencies through the “Twitter Files,” it’s hardly surprising to see anyone in a position of authority favoring silencing opposing views.

Still, Maher, the daughter of freshman Connecticut state Sen. Ceci Maher (D) and the late Gordon Roberts Maher, a Goldman Sachs executive, had stated a position in June 2021 that stood out, particularly for how it butted with an official statement from her outlet on the First Amendment.

In a clip shared by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Christopher Rufo from June 2021, “NPR’s censor-in-chief,” then-CEO of Wikimedia, could be heard weighing freedom of speech differently for individuals and corporations.

“On the side of governmental regulation, the number one challenge here that we see is, of course, the First Amendment in the United States is a fairly robust protection of rights. And that is a protection of rights both for platforms, which I actually think is very important that platforms have those rights to be able to regulate what kind of content they want on their sites,” she said, “but it also means that it is a little bit tricky to really address some of the real challenges of where does that information come from and sort of the influence peddlers who have made a real market economy around it.”

“So I think that there are interventions — things like political ad regulation, you know, advertising, the advertising, the sort of dark space of — clickbait advertising writ large — are real opportunities in that space,” Maher went on. “But in the sort of general sort of media speech space, I think that is really tricky and we don’t have a lot of good theorizing around what would work there.”

Rufo’s continued exposure of Maher’s apparent biases followed a slew of past public posts on social media resurfacing to corroborate Berliner’s point about NPR’s leanings.

Irony took hold of the situation as The New York Times reported a statement from NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara that defended Maher’s past remarks as she, “was not working in journalism at the time and was exercising her First Amendment right to express herself like any other American citizen.”

Of course, as Berliner’s suspension and resignation showed, the First Amendment was only selectively celebrated when it supported a preferred narrative. Or, as Christina Pushaw summed up on X, “So, the CEO of a publicly funded media organization supports First Amendment protections for Big Tech corporations — but not for individual citizens. Wow.”

Rufo took a similar swing at breaking down the situation and stated, “NPR has hired a left-wing activist who openly endorses censoring, deplatforming, and punching political opponents. She considers the First Amendment the ‘number one challenge’ to controlling ‘bad information.’ The American people should not be paying for this. She must resign.”

Kevin Haggerty

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