NPR Asks Republican Why GOP Threatened to ‘Torpedo the Economy’ over Debt Ceiling

As the debt ceiling “compromise” progressed on August 1, NPR revealed its slant against the bill in interviews with Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

But it was the phrasing of one particular question during Dreier’s interview that prompted more than 20 listener complaints that called it “hostile, “rude” and proof of “liberal bias,” according to the response by NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos. Schumacher-Matos described the question as “a virtual sucker punch.” (Listen to the interview here)

The “leading question” (by NPR’s own admission) Steve Inskeep had asked Dreier was, “Given that your speaker, in his words, said months ago that it would be a serious problem not to raise the debt ceiling, why did House Republicans spend this summer threatening to torpedo the economy by defaulting?”

In the ombudsman’s blog post on NPR which was titled: “Torpedoing the Debt: Perils of Going Live,” Inskeep expressed a desire to rephrase his question saying, “In the live interview at hand, it’s totally fair to say that I should have been more nuanced in the final question. House Republicans have expressed many views.”

Although, to the ombudsman’s recollection no House Republicans had said they were willing to “torpedo the economy.” Still, Schumacher-Matos called Inskeep a “consummate professional” and relegated the bad question to a “slip-up” and “an example of what can happen in a live interview when a host, for the benefit of listeners, tries to pin down political leaders …”

Despite NPR’s claims of being professionals, a bias against the GOP and the debt compromise was also obvious in Renee Montagne’s interview with McCaskill, which took place immediately prior to Dreier’s.

Montagne said: “In a way, though, this deal could be looked at as creating another crisis, even hostage situation, in the sense that there are a trillion dollars worth of spending cuts right now -- part of the deal. But the committee, this committee, is supposed to find more deficit reduction. If they don’t agree, automatic cuts take effect …” (Listen to the interview here

Montagne also let McCaskill get away with the old liberal scare tactic claiming that “some of these Republicans really want to get rid of the Medicare program,” despite the fact that it was Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has provided a plan to save Medicare.

Of course, it isn’t exactly surprising for NPR to espouse liberalism as it has for years, but in 2010 it took grant money from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, right around the same time they fired Juan Williams for a remark he made on Fox News. Even media columnist Howard Kurtz blasted NPR for taking the Soros money, saying “No news organization should accept that kind of check from a committed ideologue of any stripe.”

Newsbusters readers will likely recall NPR’s public relations fiasco after the former chief fundraiser was caught on tape saying that they didn’t need taxpayer subsidies and the battle to defund NPR that resulted. Ultimately, the president and CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, resigned as a result.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.