Alicia doesn't agree with Uri!


Except when she constantly does: Uri Berliner has been suspended, for a week, from his job at NPR.

There's no obvious reason why he shouldn't have been. It sounds like he broke some basic rules when he wrote a widely discussed critique of his long-time employer for The Free Press.

Yesterday afternoon, Alicia Montgomery wrote a second critique for Slate—a critique of Berliner's critique. Montgomery is a former, long-time NPT staffer. Her fascinating essay appears beneath these headlines:

The Real Story Behind NPR’s Current Problems
Yes, the broadcaster is a mess. But “wokeness” isn’t the issue. 

Montgomery agrees that NPR is a mess. She disagrees with Berliner in that one key respect.

"Wokeness" isn't the issue, she says, paraphrasing Berliner's critique. That said, the problem is this:

When Montgomery offers her own account of what she's seen happen at NPR, she seems to be agreeing with Berliner on point after point after point.

She attributes the many specific failures she describes to a slightly more complex set of motivations. But on issue after issue, topic after topic, her detailed account of behavior at NPR seems to align with Berliner's account.

In Montgomery's account, the woods at NPR are unlovely, dark and deep. Oddly though, and by our method of reckoning, she and Berliner pretty much seem to be on the same darn page.

We'll offer examples tomorrow. For today, we'll offer this:

In our principal reports for this week, we're focusing on the concept of the (self-contained) clan. Once again, we'll repeat the part of Berliner's original essay which was most specific, and which pretty much leaped off the page:

BERLINER (4/9/24): Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity, I looked at voter registration for our newsroom. In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None. 

So on May 3, 2021, I presented the findings at an all-hands editorial staff meeting. When I suggested we had a diversity problem with a score of 87 Democrats and zero Republicans, the response wasn’t hostile. It was worse. It was met with profound indifference. I got a few messages from surprised, curious colleagues. But the messages were of the “oh wow, that’s weird” variety, as if the lopsided tally was a random anomaly rather than a critical failure of our diversity North Star. 

We can't vouch for the accuracy of those numbers, but they do leap off the page. There could always be "innocent" explanations—today's Republicans don't want to work for NPR, to offer one obvious possibility—but they do suggest the possibility of a problem at a major news org which has the word "national" right there in its name.

Eighty-seven Democrats, compared to zero Rs! That would almost start to define the concept of a clan. 

That said:

Montgomery doesn't mention those statistics in her essay for Slate. Also this:

To date, Kevin Drum's sensible post about Berliner's essay has drawn 111 comments from readers. None of the commenters mentioned those numbers. Neither did Kevin himself.

We're living in two Americas now. We live and love within our clans. No one seems surprised by this fact. No one seems to be concerned. 

We're living in two (self-contained) Americas now. As an intriguing matter of fact, nobody seems to notice!

Montgomery has written a detailed, intriguing piece. Excerpts on the morrow.


  1. I never hire Republicans.


  2. "Once again, we'll repeat the part of Berliner's original essay which was most specific, and which pretty much leaped off the page:"

    To me, this doesn't sound like such a big deal. Someone could've registered 20 years ago, still living in the same house, and hating the current breed of Democrats.

    I wouldn't care about the way they are registered, but rather about their work. And their work is disgusting.

  3. The unanswered question is how many peple in the newsroom. Are there only 87 voters in the newsroom? Are there any independents? Without that information there’s no way to verify Berliner’s contention.

    1. As I recall, there are over 400 people. And once again, has anybody asked Berliner how he checked the voter registrations?

    2. working in editorial positions

    3. "editorial position" is a vague and imprecise term that may include people from lower positions to positions of power, worse Berliner presents no real evidence of bias or even of the circumstances, just anecdotes.

      NPR does seem to have an anti-Trump yet pro neoliberal stance, which aligns with most other corporate media (NPR's largest funding source is corporate sponsorship).

      However, the most popular news media for decades has been dominated by right wing extremists, Republicans, and in recent years, Trump supporters, so whatever NPR's bias, it is hardly concerning other than it barely provides a balance to the most popular media. Leftists have virtually no representation in corporate media.

      Somerby's hand wringing is just intended to muddy the waters while enhancing a right wing viewpoint; his claims towards being a member of the blue tribe are not credible.

    4. NPR is funded by Russia via Iran and Qatar through Truth Social.

      What an asshole Somerby is.

      I am Corby.

  4. When I was very young, I preferred Juicy Fruit gum. When I got a little older, I switched to Doublemint.

  5. Quaker in a BasementApril 17, 2024 at 2:52 PM

    The 87-0 count, by itself, tells us nothing.

    One would probably find zero pro-lifers on the board of Planned Parenthood. Zero hard currency advocates at the Federal Reserve. Vegans are sparse at the cattlemen's association.

    The numbers only mean something when you give them context. Why are there supposedly no Republicans in the NPR newsroom? Do Republicans apply for jobs and are turned down? If so, are they turned away because of their conservative views? And if that's the case, how do hiring managers determine what their views are?

    Or are the vast majority of job applicants registered Dems when they apply? Does NPR (or any newsroom) have an obligation to montior the party affiliations of its employees. Should a news organization actively recruit a diversity of political registrations within its ranks?

    The pertinent questions aren't answered by a simple count.

    Yes, I hear a voice in the back of the room interject, but isn't that how we judge whether an organization is biased against women or racial minorities?

    In fact, we can and do use a simple head count as evidence of bias where protected classes of people are concerned. If we wish to offer this same protection to ideological affiliation, then we have some major revisions to make in our laws and our Constitution. The solution won't be achieved by tipping the scales until 87-0 becomes 44-43 or even 85-2.

    1. Shouldn't they rename it into Democrat Radio Financed by Your Taxes or something?

    2. @ Anon 3:56. Why not? Right after Fox rebrands itself GOPTV.

    3. Yeah. I can imagine the stink if Fox was financed by federal taxes.

    4. Financed by Federal Taxes?, what a bunch of uninformed morans. "On average, less than 1% of NPR's annual operating budget comes in the form of grants from CPB and federal agencies and departments," reports NPR on a webpage about its finances last updated March 16, 2023."

    5. Unsurprisingly, NPR webpage lies. In addition to that 1%, tax money flow to local "public" stations, and from there to NPR, as "contracts from customers".

    6. @5:21 A bit vague about what is flowing from where to whom. Many of us have contributed directly to our local public stations, but that is not taxes or federal money. When that money goes back to NPR as "contracts from customers" it wouldn't be coming from taxes in any form but from our own pockets, as listener supported radio. How then is NPR lying?

      I looked at Colorado Public Radio's funding sources and they say that 95% of their funding comes from individual contributions. That means not taxes at the local level either.

    7. NPR's largest funding source is corporate sponsorship, which is why it supports a corporate agenda in it's output.

      This is followed by funding from listeners.

      It's name aside, NPR receives an insignificant amount from tax funding.

      Republicans want to push the Overton window on media bias because they represent a declining electorate. The Berliner opinion piece is just an attempt to con the public.

    8. About 30% of its budget is tax money.

  6. Somerby believes that a Democrat is incapable of writing an unbiased article on any topic. It is implied in his acceptance of Berliner's critique that there were no Republicans on the writing staff.

    In Trump's trial during jury selection, Trump's legal team tried to have prospective jurors removed for cause because they voted for Biden or were Democrats (or had Democratic relatives). The judge rejected that demand because it presumes that a Democrat cannot be fair in evaluating evidence or applying law by virtue of being a member of that political party.

    When a journalist writes an article after researching a topic, they are not doing so in a partisan manner but in accordance with principles and procedures governing how journalism is done. Journalists have the same right to vote as anyone else who is a citizen of our country. So do judges and jury members. The ability to evaluate information fairly, draw well-supported conclusions and present arguments is not restricted to any political party. A journalist is trained to set aside personal opinions, just as a police officer, a lawyer, a judge, a doctor, a professor, anyone in a responsible position dealing with people, is trained and expected to do in their profession. Assuming that they will not (or cannot) is insulting and it is wrong to try to remove someone from a position because you assume they cannot be objective (as opposed to showing evidence of bias).

    So, Somerby is wrong in supporting Berliner's argument. Berliner's writes a business column. If he built up some frustration over the years with NPR's content, perhaps it was because he expected his own right wing views to be reflected in their reporting. The problem with that is that right wing views are notoriously out-of-step with reality, inconsistent with facts. Right wingers do not realize or accept that reality, although surveys of current events knowledge and education repeatedly show such a gap between what is true and what right wingers believe.

    I can see how there would be a tension between right wing beliefs and content at a mainstream publication. It would be hard for someone like Tucker Carlson to perform well on MSNBC too. But that doesn't mean NPR should be required to remake itself into a publication that reflect right wing disinformation. Berliner should have been fired for the manner in which he voiced his complaints. He would be in any corporation, but this perhaps reflects NPR's desire to be fairer to Berliner than he was to his colleagues.

    Note that the complaints about the wokeness of the CEO concern statements she made in an entirely different job years before joining NPR. That is how fair Berliner was.

    1. If it turned out the majority of people at Fox voted Dem it would not be a great surprise. They are there because they are getting big paychecks they can’t get

    2. Yes, because that is the way to have a satisfying career and take pride in your work.

  7. Why would one hire Repubs when they have evolved into weirdos and jaggoffs?

  8. As reported by MeidasTouch News, Trump has been altering previously published articles, such as by the National Review, then reposting them on Truth Social. The changes he has been making are to remove or change info he doesn't like. But then he presents the article as if it were the original, without disclosing the changes.

    "Trump's article manipulation posts appear to be screenshots of actual articles, but they have been changed. These altered articles share a news organization’s logo, title, and byline, but scrub out all the unfavorable content that Trump doesn't like. It's truly egregious.

    This time Trump’s victim was right wing outlet National Review and author Andrew C. McCarthy. The original article from National Review titled, "No, Cohen’s Guilty Plea Does Not Prove Trump Committed Campaign-Finance Crimes," can be found here, while Trump's manipulated version can found below for comparison purposes.

    The article argued that Michael Cohen's campaign finance guilty plea doesn't automatically make Trump guilty, but Trump association with Cohen could hurt him. Trump's sharing of this article, even in a manipulated form, contains attacks against star witness Michael Cohen and, thus, is also a potential gag order violation.

    The article was overall favorable to Trump, yet Trump deleted over 5 sections. Here's a summary of the unfavorables that Trump deleted:

    1. Michael Cohen was "Donald Trump’s 'fixer'”

    2. An implication that Cohen's ability to conduct "fraud schemes," not his "legal acumen" is why Trump brought him into his inner circle

    3. Cohen being a star witness is "both good for Trump and bad for Trump"

    4. The prosecution could argue that "it is the Trump organization documents" which builds their case

    5. The prosecution could argue that it was "Cohen’s very loathsomeness that attracted Trump to him," that Trump "was perfectly content to have Cohen as his sidekick, confidant, and attack dog for over a decade," and, therefore, turn all attacks against Cohen into attacks on Trump who employed him

    6. The writer of the article, McCarthy, stated that a second Trump administration is "still inconceivable"

    7. An implication that Trump hired Cohen and kept him around not for "Grade-A legal counsel," but for his "genuine expertise" in "extortion," etc.

    8. The SDNY can pin "these hush-money arrangements" on Trump

    9. If women had come forward during the campaign, it "might have torpedoed Trump's presidential bid in the wake of the infamous Access Hollywood tape"

    10. An implication that Trump's deal with Stormy Daniels didn't turn out well for him

    This is the 6th media manipulated article posted by Trump in April and the 25th overall that MeidasTouch has uncovered. Once again, Trump’s actions move beyond censorship, creating “fake news” propaganda that changes the original work of reporters to hide information from his Truth Social followers. "

    1. Somerby is inviting us to worry about NPR while Trump is doing stuff like this!

  9. Berliner's essay is problematic because it does not recognize that news outlets like NPR have an obligation to sift through information and decide what is true and not true.

    From there, if it's true and telling that truth serves the greater good, it should be published and broadcast.

    If it is true and does not serve to advance the greater good, it should not be published or broadcast and it is a duty to discredit a truthful but damaging report or set of facts.

    1. Falsehoods are more challenging.

    2. Everything I say is false.

  10. Berliner’s opinion is popular with New York Times readers.

    1. Ho-hum.
      Right-wing NY Times , agrees with article written at Right-wing Bari Weiss's site.
      Thanks for the shocking news.

    2. Actually NY Times readers are predominantly left wing. The link is to comments by readers who were upset by the same change that Berliner wrote about.

    3. NY Times readers are predominantly right wing.

      It's a news corporation that presents a corporatist, neoliberal view of the world, which is right wing, so it is unsurprising that it has a predominantly right wing readership.

      DIC, you have no coherent understanding of what "left" and "right" mean.

      Left means you support egalitarianism, Right means you support hierarchy and dominance; these definitions are based on history and science and are the widely accepted meanings. Sure, you can make up your own definitions, but no one will pay you any mind. No one here takes you seriously, we just want to help guide you towards a more honest and accurate path; we recognize that this is unlikely, but then again the effort required is minimal, as your arguments are always over the top ridiculous and easily debunked.

  11. Boomers whining they can't misgender people and attack affirmative action and keep respect among peers nationally, wow this is such a big mic drop.

    Meanwhile the NYT has completely been exposed as manipulating its language to suppress discussion of Israel's slaughters, massacres and genocides.

    But continue with your Western white man drama. It sounds important.

  12. I listen to NPR and have for many years.

    Stating that what Alicia Montgomery says is similar to Uri Berliner's article is a mistake. Alicia Montgomery is right on the mark.

    It is not a matter of liberal versus conservative or clans, it is an issue of losing the focus on the truth in a misguided effort to appear balanced. The money quote for this argument:
    "I and a couple of other editorial leaders were encouraged to make sure that any coverage of a Trump lie was matched with a story about a lie from Hillary Clinton."
    That is not balance - that is trying to appear balanced and it muddles good reporting.

    There is an impact to a reporter asking "But her emails..." as "balance" to the Trump campaign manager sharing polling data with a Russian asset.

    These approaches are not balanced, they serve to protect the organization from claims of bias. I would rather have a news organization that reports the truth and gets called liberal than one that presents a false "balanced reporting" and simply confuses its listeners.

    I guess the real problem is that the truth has recently had a liberal bias :)

  13. Lorenzo Palomo has died.

  14. How many Republicans applied for positions at NPR? Republicans don't generally work in fact based careers. The y only want to make money. Then they can complain when NPR reports on how sleazy they are that NPR is biased.

    1. The Right hates political correctness, until you start telling the truth about them.

    2. @10:15 wrote, "Republicans don't generally work in fact based careers."

      On the contrary, conservatives are more apt to work in business. Competition forces business to be fact-based. Reality is the ultimate test of whether or not something is true.

      E.g., my actuarial projections turned out to be mostly accurate. My company flourished. A competing actuary's projections were less accurate. Her company failed.

    3. Competition is just another word for cheating and a race to the bottom.

      A world where someone that is somehow "lesser" than fails, is not a healthy world, it's a dog eat dog world where those that are better at grifting and cutting corners will succeed, and those that have less privilege will always fail.

      DIC, you arrived at this worldview through unresolved trauma, this lashing out is just a manifestation of your wounds. I am sorry for your circumstances, and hope one day you find a way to diminish the hate in your heart.

    4. It's not the case that those that have less privilege will always fail. Jews were almost virtually excluded from the insurance business. Yet, a single small Jew-run company, AIG, succeeded so well that it became the largest insurance company in the US.

    5. I always thought AIG was just a shit run insurance company, that needed a $182 BILLION U.S. funded bailout package.
      Thankfully, David provided me context of why it needed that bailout in his post at 11:40.
      Thanks David.

  15. BTW for a long time NPR has been virulently anti Israel. They routinely broadcast falsehoods criticizing Israel.

    Back in 1948, when Israel was formed, liberals were big supporters. Harry Trump led the way. Somehow that changed 180 degrees.

    1. Interesting, you exhibit a similar mental decline to Trump. You should see a doctor.

    2. I find their reporting of the current conflict in Gaza not anti-Israel at all. In fact, the majority of the reports that I hear are interviewing Israelis not Palestinians. There is very little reporting from within Gaza, which may relate to the number of reporters the IDF has killed, see the link:

    3. Is Harry Trump related to Trump's racist and fascist sympathizer father, Fred Trump?