Here Are the Best & Worst Moments From the House NPR Hearing with MRC’s Graham

May 8th, 2024 5:45 PM

On Wednesday, the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations during a hearing on the decades-long liberal boondoggle that is National Public Radio (NPR). Not surprisingly, he came armed with examples of their virulent bias and hate for conservatives.

Joined by Americans for Tax Reform’s James Erwin, the American Enterprise Institute’s Howard Husock, and Free Press co-CEO Craig Aaron, Graham took questions from lawmakers that fell into all-predictable camps of Republicans recognizing the problem and Democrats not only denying reality, but accusing critics of NPR of putting the lives of journalists in danger.

Before we dive into the highlights and lowlights, here was Graham’s opening statement, which included examples dating back to the 1980s of NPR’s shameless partisan hackery (click “expand”):



I represent the Media Research Center, America’s preeminent conservative media watchdog organization. It was founded in 1987, and I joined up in 1989. We monitor national media outlets on a daily basis and provide daily coverage of the media’s tilt at  Uri Berliner obviously tried to make the point that media bias became a bigger problem when Donald Trump ran for president. We are here to tell you this has been a problem for a very long time. NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg destroyed the Douglas Ginsburg nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, then she tried again with Clarence Thomas in 1991. They energetically channeled the accusers of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and when a man arrived in an Uber on Kavanaugh’s street two years ago with weapons and plans to assassinate Kavanaugh, NPR failed to file a single feature story on it. Nina Totenberg could not be found. NPR, a supposed source of civility, didn’t demonstrate that cared one bit about this potential political violence. But in March, between Morning Edition and Fresh Air, Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford was granted an hour of taxpayer-funded air time to reproduce her unproven charges of teenaged sexual assault.

Now, most of us, what we remember best has been mentioned. The Exhibit A here of NPR’s bias is the New York Post series on Hunter Biden’s laptop in October of 2020. Most of the so-called “mainstream media” tried to dismiss this story – falsely – as Russian disinformation. But NPR stood out. NPR’s Public Editor Kelly McBride quoted Terence Samuel, NPR’s Managing Editor for News. He said: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” He dismissed the Post stories as a “politically driven event.” That’s interesting, since you could argue Nina Totenberg’s hostile reporting on Supreme Court nominees created “politically driven events.” Instead of seeking to investigate the Biden family’s influence-peddling, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a story titled “Experts Say Attack On Hunter Biden’s Addiction Deepens Stigma For Millions.” There wasn’t one word in it about Hunter Biden’s business practices involving his father, which was the point of the Post stories. The pattern continues today. When a House Oversight Committee had a hearing in March that Hunter Biden where he was supposed to appear, NPR’s All Things Considered wouldn’t consider a feature story on it. NPR covered the Pelosi-picked House January 6 Committee live for every minute, and then it couldn’t do a two-minute story on the Biden impeachment inquiry. Instead, the next morning NPR’s homepage was topped the next morning by their hot story: new details on Rupert Murdoch’s British phone-hacking scandal of 2011. NPR’s website did have a Biden mention. White House reporter Deepa Shivaram had a TikTok-like video shoot on President Biden grabbing a trendy boba tea in Las Vegas under the headline “Food stops can tell you a lot about a campaign.”

NPR, that network of civility, also has encouraged chaos and disorder in society: On August 27, 2020, NPR’s blog “Code Switch”, with the slogan “Race In Your Face,” posted an interview promoting a new book titled In Defense of Looting. On The NPR Politics Podcast on July 17, 2021,they promoted a book by Yale law professor Elizabeth Hinton saying that protests against policy should not — they shouldn’t be called riots. They should be called “rebellions”. On NPR’s Fresh Air on April 15, 2023, their movie critic John Powers praised the movie How to Blow Up a Pipeline, hailing it as “hugely timely”. You know, this is what NPR is doing. They can devote our taxpayer dollars to getting behind looting, rioting, and blowing up pipelines . And yet, NPR represents the Republicans as uniquely extreme. We’ve seen this throughout this Congress where they come on and say, “oh, the hard right Republicans are ruining everything.” Um, they were doing this morning discussing Miss Taylor Greene, but they have had several sappy interviews with Hakeem Jeffries. Steve Inskeep at one said — said, “you say to Republicans drive the car off the cliff. We are not going to grab the wheel.” This is the way they treat Republicans, basically as nutballs who are gonna drive the car off the cliff. You might understand that’s why we might get a little upset.

Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was on the flip side, accusing those investigating NPR’s political tilt of a “disturbing” return to “the dark days of McCarthyism” when, instead, the House should crack down on private “right-wing media organizations that have a long history of peddling misinformation, disinformation, promoting partisan agendas and sowing fear and division.”

“Public cynicism about the media doesn’t come from NPR. It comes from the right-wing media,” he added as if to suggest NPR hasn’t done anything itself to harm its reputation.

Congresswoman and full committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) was the first member in the Q&A to speak with Graham, which afforded him the chance to call out Ranking Member Cathy Castor’s (D-FL) for claiming media critics are akin to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and those in the Chinese Communist Party:

As the Democratic witness, Aaron served as a stand-in for NPR and lamented to Pallone that the motives of journalists would be questioned. This led Pallone to argue adversarial critiques of the news media are acts of political intimidation.

Aaron agreed and said sustained (and outside) criticism of journalists made them “more timid, more cautious, more unwilling to ask hard questions” and thus it’s not only “harder for them to do their job”, but their lives are on the line.

Moments later, Congressman Jeff Duncan used his time to lambaste NPR as “a Democrat propaganda machine funded by U.S. tax dollars” and mock the idea they’re providing “objective reporting”:

Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) went to Graham after noting “there’s a hunger in our society for just plain, unbiased news” that also doesn’t send blood pressures soaring. She asked Graham about what’s needed “to ensure NPR provides impartial coverage and serves a broader audience”:



And, in response to a question from Lesko, Erwin brought up what precipitated the last congressional hearing about NPR (that Graham also testified at), which was “a scandal where local affiliates were sharing donor lists with Democratic Party operatives” and suggested a remedy of allowing taxpayers to opt out of funding NPR (and PBS) on their tax forms.

Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) astutely focused on the connection public broadcast has to far-left foundations:

Later, Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Aaron fretted it’s “very dangerous” to be “attacking the media” because that’s how “democracies” die:



Sanity was restored when Congressman John Joyce (R-PA) acknowledged that “my constituents in south Central and southwestern Pennsylvania would be a target audience for NPR” with large, rural swaths dependent “on radio for news for emergency alerts and more”, but aren’t as NPR’s squandered away their trust with their liberal biases.

Graham explained how NPR has strayed from its mission of representing all voices by explaining how, oftentimes, stories will claim to feature a Republican voice, but said voice will be from, say, Liz Cheney.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) closed out the hearing by adding his voice to what were a parade of voices on the Republican side denouncing NPR CEO Katherine Maher from declining to appear before the committee. He then asked Graham about NPR’s future with Maher (click “expand”):



CRENSHAW: [Y]ou’ve collected a pretty impressive assortment of NPR’s failures on — and — and failures to have unbiased reporting. Give us your thoughts on that and is Ms. Maher a good — a good fit to change course?

GRAHAM: Oh, I don’t think there’s any intention to change course. I think that’s why she was selected. It would be interesting to hear her try to explain, you know, what it is that they’re trying to do, because when we listen to this radio network on a regular basis, it’s quite clear. You can understand why the Democrats don’t want to have a hearing about this. It works very, very well for them, right? You can understand why the gentleman from Free Press has to say he’s not here to represent public broadcasting, but they’re very closely affiliated and fight for the funding together. You know, obviously, Democrats like the system exactly as it is right now.


GRAHAM: And so, the very least we can do is — yes, have the CEO in and try to explain who in there is doing anything to suggest maybe we should have a more balanced set of interviews.


GRAHAM: Let’s — let’s have a more balanced set of journalists. You won’t see anybody from Fox News on NPR.

CRENSHAW: No, and you would think that’s what the whole point — if you’re gonna do unbiased media, then it has to be unbiased. Biased media is okay. You know, just — just admit it, though. MSNBC does not try to claim that it’s unbiased. I don’t even think Fox tries to claim it’s unbiased anymore. It’s just not right. It’s we’ve had. We’ve had biased media in this country since their founding, but if you’re going to be a taxpayer-funded media company, you actually have to adhere to the principles of — of unbiased news broadcasting or say the quiet part out loud and maybe that’s the benefit of the new CEO. She has said the quiet part out loud, pretty clearly. And so, there can be no — there can be no question about what direction NPR is headed and it — and it can be simply written off and maybe we should — we should look at ways to defund it. How — how would we in Congress, perhaps, some suggestions on how we would change course in NPR?

To see the relevant transcript from the hearing on May 8, click here.