NPR chief knocks 'bad faith distortion' of social media posts

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NPR’s top executive is dismissing criticism from conservatives over social media posts she published before taking the top job at the public broadcaster.

“All of this frankly is a bit of a distraction relative to the transformation our
organization needs to undergo in order to best serve our mandate,” Katherine Maher told the Wall Street Journal during an interview this week.

Maher, the former head of Wikimedia who took over as the outlet’s CEO this spring, has faced intense criticism from the right in the wake of an op-ed published by a former top editor at NPR accusing the outlet of liberal bias.

Conservatives used Uri Berliner’s essay to highlight, in some cases, years old social media posts from Maher showing her praising Democrats and promoting progressive ideas.

Maher, who has also faced pressure internally from staffers at NPR to condemn Berliner’s assertions about the outlet more forcefully, said she has had “robust” conversations “across our newsroom” about a number of topics relating to editorial strategy, including Berliner’s Op-Ed.

Berliner eventually resigned, after he was briefly suspended, citing what he characterized as Maher’s hostility toward him and the claims he was making about the outlet.

The episode has renewed calls from many Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits to pull funding from NPR, which draws a portion of its underwriting from the federal government.

Such attacks, Maher told the Journal, are partisan in nature and she insisted her personal political opinions are not effecting the way she does her job.

“There are many professions in which you set aside your own personal perspectives in order to
lead in public service,” she said. ” .. and that is exactly how I have always led organizations and will continue to lead NPR.”

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