WaPo: NPR Insiders Furious NPR's 'Capitulating' to Fox News and Others Opposing 'Democracy'

January 8th, 2011 10:32 AM

On Saturday, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi found that NPR insiders are furious at the forced resignation of Ellen Weiss, the senior vice president for news who so controversially canned Juan Williams. The liberal arrogance of NPR was on full display, that they were the future of "democracy," and Fox News was clearly the enemy of democracy and an independent press:

"We have allowed Fox News to define the debate," wrote Peter Block, a member of the board of Cincinnati Public Radio, in a posting to an e-mail group consisting of public radio managers. He added, "I do not think this kind of capitulation [by NPR] assures the future of an independent press....Democracy is on the line and NPR is one of the last bastions of its possibility."

Farhi added that NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, also pointed to Fox (less harshly) in her column, that the Williams "incident has become a partisan issue in Washington's hothouse atmosphere, with Republicans (egged on by Fox News) using it as a rallying cry to demand that NPR be 'defunded' by the federal government." Do  conservatives need to be "egged on" about NPR's shameless actions?

Farhi's story, focused as it was on NPR insiders being furious, never found a place for a conservative counterpoint. Instead, readers were treated to the "effusive praise" public-radio liberals had for Weiss:

"She's the greatest," said Ira Glass, the host of "This American Life" who worked with Weiss when he started as a 19-year-old employee at NPR (Glass's program is distributed by Public Radio International, an NPR rival). "As a journalist and a manager, she's an ally for everything good in public radio. It's a shame that she's having to go out because of this one decision. It's bad for public radio and bad for everything we believe in as journalists."

Weekend anchor Guy Raz was also explicit in praising Weiss as "legendary" and "an inspiration" for her climb to the top of public radio, where she could shovel the leftist bias with such panache:

Guy Raz, who hosts the weekend edition of "All Things Considered," called Weiss "the finest journalist I ever worked for. . . . She's a pretty legendary figure in the newsroom. For many people, she's an inspiration that you could start at the bottom and make it to the top if you worked hard it. It's a cliche, but she really set the standard for integrity."

Some employees interviewed Friday steered clear of criticizing NPR's upper management, but Raz said there was some anger in the newsroom. "It's a pretty natural reaction," he said. "Yeah, I think we're angry because she was such a good leader. She really knew how to lead this organization," he said.

Farhi left the impression that Weiss was unanimously popular. But NPR ombudsman Shepard reported: "The news rocked the staff, which has been divided about Weiss's leadership. Some questioned whether the punishment fit the crime. Some quietly rejoiced."