NPR Picks New CEO From L.A. Who Bankrolls DNC, ACLU, and Barack Obama

NPR named a new CEO on Friday. His name is Jarl Mohn (pronounced “Yarl Moan”), who was a founder of the cable channel E and an executive at MTV and VH-1.

Leftists might worry with these corporate connections, but Mohn has been a major donor to Pasadena NPR station KPCC – as well as a major donor to Barack Obama and the DNC. For 15 years, from 1994 to 2009, he chaired the board of the ACLU of Southern California. His Mohn Family Foundation has continued to support the group.

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times accounts made no mention of the Democratic donations or the ACLU connection. Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi reported “Public records indicate that Mohn supported a series of Democratic candidates in statewide races, including the Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign of Robert Reich, President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor. Reich lost in the Massachusetts Democratic primary in 2002.”

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik left out the donations on Morning Edition, but by All Things Considered in the late afternoon, he added: “Mohn has given millions of dollars to Southern California Public Radio, where he's board chairman. A database search also shows he's given more than $200,000 to political causes, mostly Democrat, since 1990. But he pledged to stop for his new job.”


An Open Secrets search shows in 2012, Mohn donated $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee, $5,000 to Obama for President, $5,000 to liberal Rep. Howard Berman of California, as well as $7,300 to liberal Rep. Henry Waxman of California (in 2010 and 2012 combined). A year ago, he donated $2,600 to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who’s up for re-election in November.

Folkenflik explained on Morning Edition that Mohn is expected to improve relations between NPR HQ in DC and the member stations, since “He's not only been a benefactor of KPCC but an advisor. I'm told he helped shaped their slogan there – ‘No rant, no slant’ -- as their way of indicating this was a safe space for civil discussion of the news and public affairs.”

Speaking of liberal rants and slants, Folkenflik only barely alluded on Morning Edition to the NPR fundraiser video sting scandal in 2011 that caused a major push from conservative Republicans in Congress to defund NPR:

INSKEEP: Would you remind us what has led us to this point because, I mean, this is, you know, this has been a kind of temp job, CEO of NPR News in recent years.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Well, Gary Knell came from what's called Sesame Workshop, what we think of the folks behind "Sesame Street," and really was seen as the guy to provide stability after some rocky years. And he really quieted things down on the political front, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, and he helped to put NPR on a path towards closing of budget deficit that is still trying to narrow to zero by the end our fiscal year, September 30th.

But Knell announced less than two years into the job that he was going to head for perhaps more lucrative and easier climate of National Geographic, and he became the CEO there. And it's a terrific job, but it really took askance I think a lot of folks here at NPR. You know, I've covered a number of changes of interim CEOs and permanent CEOs over the nearly the last nearly decade that I've covered here at the network. It's just seemed like a too much a choppy waters and I think the hope is that Jarl Mohn will provide some stability in that regard.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis