The Good fight | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

The Good fight

One congressman’s argument for defunding National Public Radio

You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

My friend John Stonestreet avoids using the term woke to describe the mind virus that’s rotting American institutions like National Public Radio. Stonestreet calls it “the critical-theory mood,” and by that light, NPR is especially moody.

An NPR whistleblower in April described the rot as driven by ideological uniformity in the network’s newsroom. A lockstep leftism that produced “one story after another about instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies,” Uri Berliner wrote in Bari Weiss’ The Free Press.

At the time, Berliner was an NPR business and economics reporter. He’s now a “former” NPR guy. Knowing his days were numbered, Berliner beat his boss to the punch and resigned.

It’s a shame what’s happened to NPR, really. Despite its historic lefty tilt, NPR’s sound was always comfort food for my ears. Never overprocessed but intelligently conversational and earnest, the NPR voice exuded credibility and calm. I’ve loved NPR ever since I was a student, and so maybe you can understand my dismay that it’s become unlistenable.

I’ve been around WORLD in various capacities for nearly 35 years, and I’ve seen a lot of change—some good, some bad. Broadcast news is a lifelong passion, and I suspect you’d detect my admiration for NPR if you listen to WORLD’s daily podcast that I get to co-host, The World and Everything in It.

Will NPR soon face a reckoning? Its bias lies at the heart of an argument Republican members of Congress have been making for decades about public broadcasting in general. Now, Rep. Bob Good, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, is pushing legislation that would seal both the front and back doors to funding: He’d cut off direct federal dollars to NPR and bar its affiliate network from using federal grants to license NPR content.

Good filed his bill 10 days after Berliner’s piece ran, reasoning that it’s bad enough when activists masquerade as reporters, but worse when taxpayers are forced to sign their paychecks.

I called Good in early June. If he had his way, he told me, the House would tuck his bill into next year’s appropriations legislation. But absent a GOP landslide in November, he’s “not optimistic.”

Good’s bill doesn’t strike me as some kind of right-wing “MSM” vendetta. Just a principled kind of sadness I identify with completely. “I grew up listening to NPR,” Good told me. “I would listen to Morning Edition, I would listen to All Things Considered coming to and from work. ”

I’m only a couple of years the congressman’s senior, which means we’re close enough in age that we can both remember that style of mainstream news media that’s faded to a flicker. “Those were the days of Daniel Schorr, Cokie Roberts, and Nina Totenberg,” Good said. “I know they were left-leaning, but they had some semblance of fairness and objectivity.”

In his April piece, Berliner, a 25-year NPR veteran, put facts behind what a lot of us have long suspected. Like Good, he wrote that NPR journalists did once strive for fairness. Then came 2016 and “the rise of advocacy took off with Donald Trump.”

By advocacy journalism, he meant: ideology-based, outcome-driven, socially “just.” Toeing the blue-state line on huge stories like Russia collusion, COVID, and Hunter Biden’s laptop, heedless of actual evidence. “NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the laptop story because it could help Trump,” Berliner wrote.

Then came the killing of George Floyd, and NPR surrendered to ideology completely, Berliner wrote. Systemic racism became a given: “Our mission was to change it.”

Still, he says defunding efforts like Good’s will not trigger reform. That would require internal change, and government is the wrong change agent. But Good is concerned with more than bias. He opposes funding NPR for the same reason he opposes much Washington spending: It is beyond the legitimate scope of government—especially given obscene levels of overspending and trillions in accumulated debt.

I agree. And so, if the folks at NPR get defunded, great. They have indeed lost America’s trust. But I hope NPR survives. I hope it returns to what it did so well, to that style and professionalism I grew up admiring, a style we strive for every day on The World and Everything in It

We at WORLD Radio want to beat you, NPR, but in the meantime, competition is good—so don’t give up.

Nick Eicher

Nick is chief content officer of WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. He has served WORLD Magazine as a writer and reporter, managing editor, editor, and publisher. Nick resides with his family in St. Louis, Mo.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...