NPR’s last president was forced out after James O’Keefe caught one of its fundraisers saying a few bad things about the Tea Party, and after the noise machine put them through the wringer when they finally canned Juan Williams for saying offensive things on Fox News. Now, the board has appointed a new hellraiser to run the place: Gary Knell, the former head of Sesame Street. And here’s his new agenda:
Mr. Knell indicated on Sunday that he would try to reorient conversations about NPR away from politics and instead toward its journalism, citing “fairness” as the most important trait.
The NPR board fundamentally doesn’t get it if they think a new leader with this focus will quiet their sworn enemies on the right. This kind of thinking just provides Fox and friends a platform to nit-pick NPR to death: at the macro level, by counting the number of “liberal” vs “conservative” stories are aired on their broadcasts, and, at the micro level, grousing every time a perfect balance of liberals and conservatives aren’t quoted in a story. Here’s Jay Rosen’s take on NPR being threatened by the perception that its programming is liberal:
Can you be “threatened” by a “perception?” I guess maybe you can. But if you can, then I would say that NPR is equally threatened by 1.) the perception that it can be rolled or intimidated, especially after forcing its last CEO to resign in part because right wing trickster James O’Keefe pulled a culture war stunt that worked, and 2.) the perception that it’s increasingly a he said, she said, “safety first” news organization that tends to quote both sides and leave it there.
Is NPR looking to keep the people who listen and support it interested and informed, or is it out to appease Fox News? I don’t see how they can accomplish both of those goals.