NPR chief works to clean up public image with extra editorial review, meeting with GOP senator

Controversial National Public Radio (NPR) chief Katherine Maher met with a Republican senator and the organization rolled out a new layer of editorial review on Wednesday in response to the fallout from a former senior editor’s scathing essay alleging significant bias at the outlet. 

“She acknowledged the problem, which I think is a pretty good first step,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “She pretty much validated the concerns that I raised.” 

Last month, the senator led a letter to Maher that was signed by six other Republican senators. In the correspondence, they stressed significant concerns about the direction of the organization and its leadership following allegations of bias made by former senior editor Uri Berliner in his essay. 

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Kevin Cramer, Katherine Maher

NPR CEO Katherine Maher, right, met with GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer the same day NPR rolled out a new layer of editorial review for the outlet.  (Getty Images)

Berliner claimed to have found 87 Democrats and zero Republicans in editorial positions when researching his coworkers’ voter registrations at the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

He also criticized editorial decisions on coverage of various current events, including allegations of former President Trump’s collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the theory that COVID-19 began in a lab in China and was leaked. 

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Uri Berliner speaks at Dissident Dialogues 2024

Berliner’s essay revealed his significant concerns about NPR’s editorial director under Maher.  (Joshua Comins/Fox News Digital)

The essay quickly sparked renewed Republican criticism and threats to review funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which partially funds NPR through grants. 

According to Cramer, Maher “emphasized their ongoing efforts to provide more balanced and fair journalism” during their meeting Wednesday.

Edith Chapin, NPR’s acting chief content officer, SVP and editor-in-chief, revealed a new editorial review layer to content division staff, which was published on Wednesday for public consumption. Among many, one of the steps being taken by NPR to “strengthen editorial operations” is the institution of “the backstop.” 

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Katherine Maher NPR CEO

Maher has been the subject of scrutiny in her new role following Berliner’s allegations.  (Getty Images)

“We will institute a process to ensure that all journalism across NPR platforms gets a final editorial review before air/publication. This will be a new group of senior-level editors who are not involved in the inception or development of a particular piece of work, working 24/7 to ensure that all coverage receives final editorial review,” Chapin wrote. 

While he appreciated the purpose, Cramer noted potential issues with the new layer’s implementation. “Three editors that are homogeneous, that are left-wing Democrats — that doesn’t increase oversight,” he said. “It just validates bias.”

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Katherine Maher's post on social media about looting

Maher’s old tweets about looting, her support for Hillary Clinton and Biden-Harris have resurfaced after she addressed Berliner’s concerns about NPR in a letter to staff. (Photo by Rita Franca/NurPhoto via Getty Images, Screenshot/X/KatherineMaher)

Maher has also come under fire during the scandal for her own views, with old social media posts demonstrating support for President Biden and policies associated with Democrats being brought to light. But Cramer said this wasn’t discussed during their meeting, which he characterized as pleasant. 

“I was more interested in going forward, how she’s going to improve the newsroom,” he explained. 

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Despite NPR’s move to address concerns, the North Dakota senator said defunding is “always” on the table. 

“I could easily be talked into not funding public radio,” he added. 

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