Legal Law

NPR’s New CEO Under Fire Over Social Media Postings – JONATHAN TURLEY

The new CEO for National Public Radio (NPR) has become instant news over social media postings that she deleted before the recent announcement of her selection. Katherine Maher is the former CEO of Wikipedia and sought to remove controversial postings on subjects ranging from looters to Trump.

Shannon Thaler at the New York Post reassembled Maher’s deleted postings including a 2018 declaration that “Donald Trump is a racist” and a variety of race-based commentary. That included a statement that appeared to excuse looting:

She is also quoted for saying that “white silence is complicity.” She has described her own “hysteric white woman voice.” She further stated: “I was taught to do it. I’ve done it. It’s a disturbing recognition. While I don’t recall ever using it to deliberately expose another person to immediate physical harm on my own cognizance, it’s not impossible. That is whiteness.”

She further stated “I grew up feeling superior (hah, how white of me) because I was from New England and my part of the country didn’t have slaves, or so I’d been taught.”

The concern is that Maher will further the advocacy journalism at NPR in framing the news to advance social and political agendas. NPR employees have already objected to efforts to maintain a neutral tone in reporting and declared “civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful.” The most interesting question is how NPR will implement its controversial policy on allowing journalists to join in protests.

NPR declared that it would allow employees to participate in political protests when the editors believe the causes advance the “freedom and dignity of human beings.”

The rule itself shows how impressionistic and unprofessional media has become in the woke era. NPR does not try to define what causes constitute advocacy for the “freedom and dignity of human beings.” How about climate change and environmental protection? Would it be prohibited to protest for a forest but okay if it is framed as “environmental justice”?

NPR seems to intentionally keep such questions vague while only citing such good causes as Black Lives Matter and gay rights:

“Is it OK to march in a demonstration and say, ‘Black lives matter’? What about a Pride parade? In theory, the answer today is, “Yes.” But in practice, NPR journalists will have to discuss specific decisions with their bosses, who in turn will have to ask a lot of questions.”

So the editors will have the power to choose between acceptable and unacceptable causes.

Maher will now play a role in determining what causes advance “human dignity” that justifies reporters crossing the line to join the protests. Given her own past advocacy, NPR may have found the perfect adjudicator for advocacy journalists.


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