A senior NPR journalist calls out the network's progressive political bias: "87 Democrats in editorial positions"

Uri Berliner, a veteran of 25 years in the field of public financing, claims the outlet lacks ideological diversity and leans heavily towards democratic ideas.

Uri Berliner has been working at National Public Radio for 25 years and considers himself a veteran staff member. He currently works as editor-in-chief of the economics section. He recently shared his opinion about the situation that the outlet is going through in a column published in The Free Press. Berliner claims that NPR is suffering from a serious ideological diversity problem.

Specifically, Berliner reported that the network has a serious bias towards the left. This bias has progressed in recent years. The public radio veteran says that throughout his 25 years, this was not always the case among the NPR staff.

The senior journalist's complaint did not go unnoticed. Berliner was invited to the sets of News Nation to discuss his vision for the state of NPR and has received support from a number of his colleagues. NPR officials have since issued an official response.

A liberal and urban audience

The senior journalist supported his theory with some numbers. According to the media's audience analysis, in 2011, 26% of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23% as moderate, and 37% as liberal. This was after a slight left turn among listeners.

By 2023, the audience had totally changed. Only 11% described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21% as moderate, and 67% of listeners declared themselves very or somewhat liberal. This means that the number of liberal listeners practically doubled.

"We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals," Berliner said in his column. According to the senior journalist, there was a key moment when things started to lean left and that was when Donald Trump took office in 2016. Berliner reported that the constant attacks and coverage about Trump's presidency was anything but neutral or objective.

This bias comes directly from the media's own staff. Through election records, Berliner found out that there are 87 registered Democratic Party workers holding senior positions at the Washington DC headquarters. At the same time, there was not a single Republican in the same categories.

They turned a blind eye to Hunter Biden's laptop case

An example of this shift to the left was how the network covered the Hunter Biden laptop case. According to Berliner, in October 2020, when the New York Post reported that the president's son's laptop was stolen and its contents were leaked, NPR chose to turn a blind eye to the case.

"With the election only weeks away, NPR turned a blind eye. Here’s how NPR’s managing editor for news at the time explained the thinking: 'We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,'" Berliner said in his column. He claimed this was an example of how the network favored Democrats.

DEI policies

The way the NPR newsrooms reported the George Floyd case was another blip, which in Berliner's opinion caused conservative listeners to lose trust in the outlet, creating a more plural audience. He accused NPR's management of making DEI policies a maxim in the media outlet's day-to-day operations.

Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace. Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity (among other questions), and had to enter it in a centralized tracking system. We were given unconscious bias training sessions. A growing DEI staff offered regular meetings imploring us to “start talking about race.” Monthly dialogues were offered for “women of color” and “men of color.” Nonbinary people of color were included, too. 

NPR's response

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik responded with an open letter to the issues Berliner brought up in his column for The Free Press. In his article, Folkenflik defended the positions of NPR's editorial staff and rejected Berliner's comments.

Specifically, NPR claimed that it works to make its workspaces a place with increasingly diverse positions and opinions. The article is added to a letter that the media outlet's leadership sent internally to its workers.

"We're proud to stand behind the exceptional work that our desks and shows do to cover a wide range of challenging stories," she wrote. "We believe that inclusion — among our staff, with our sourcing, and in our overall coverage — is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world."