House Republicans Launch Investigation Of NPR For Alleged Political Bias

Funding of public radio has long had critics in conservative circles, but the recent controversy involving allegations of political bias at NPR is giving new energy to the effort to cut off taxpayer dollars. Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have opened an investigation into NPR following reports of political and ideological bias at the taxpayer-funded public radio organization.

“The Committee has concerns about the direction in which NPR may be headed under past and present leadership,” they write in a letter to NPR President Katherine Maher. The effort is being spearheaded by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-OH), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA).

“As a taxpayer funded, public radio organization, NPR should focus on fair and objective news reporting that both considers and reflects the views of the larger U.S. population and not just a niche audience,” the lawmakers write in the letter. Pointing to alleged incidents of bias, they say “it is incomprehensible that the nation’s public radio — supported by taxpayer funding — would choose to allow political ideologies to override journalistic principles of truth, accuracy, and objectivity.”

In light of what House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) says are “disturbing revelations” about NPR, he has directed the Energy and Commerce Committee to conduct an investigation. Johnson says their goal will be to determine what actions should be taken to “hold the organization accountable” for its “ideological bias and contempt for facts” in its editorial process. “The American people support the free press but will not be made to fund a left-leaning political agenda with taxpayer funds,” Johnson said in a statement.

The House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has asked Maher to appear at a May 8 hearing to explain the allegations of political and ideological bias rampant at NPR. It says they are concerned Maher’s personal views and opinions “may cloud” objective reporting of the news at NPR.

House Republicans are also asking NPR to provide Congress with information about how many Republicans, Democrats and independents are employed on its news staff, and what percentage of NPR’s Board of Directors were registered Republicans during the past five years. It is also seeking information about whether NPR has taken any steps to bring more conservatives into its newsroom. Committee members are also asking NPR to turn over any internal communications related to the topic of political viewpoint diversity.

NPR has been under growing fire from critics on the right following last month’s resignation of Uri Berliner, a now-former Senior News Editor who was initially suspended after unleashing a scathing critique of his longtime employer in an op-ed published by The Free Press. It led Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) to introduce a bill that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to NPR. She said the network’s “overwhelming partisan bias” warrants the end of federal funding.

On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) questioned the Corporation for Public Broadcasting about its funneling of taxpayer dollars to NPR. Cruz said Berliner’s departure and a refusal to acknowledge a “deep-seated partisanship” reveals a “gradual, but marked, transformation at NPR from an open-minded media outlet to one almost entirely beholden to partisan journalism.”

For its part, NPR has tried to downplay the critiques. Maher said last month that the allegations against NPR are “a bit of a distraction,” telling the Wall Street Journal that it is undergoing a “transformation” of the organization “in order to best serve our mandate.”

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