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Why Americans Can’t Trust NPR — or Any of the Elite, Liberal Media


While the American people have lost their trust in the media, Christians had better not lose trust in the Gospel truth — not only that it is the truth, but that it is the truth that will set us free.

Has NPR and the mainstream media lost America’s trust? What does the story of Uri Berliner teach all of us?

Just last week, former senior editor at National Public Radio, Uri Berliner published a tell-all essay in the Free Press where he declared that his long-time network had lost America’s trust when it started to tell listeners exactly how to think.

No one listening right now questions the liberalism or leftism of NPR. But in Berliner’s words, the stereotypical, average NPR listener is an “[electric vehicle]-driving, Wordle-playing, tote bag-carrying coastal elite.” Yes, he nailed it. Uri describes himself as not far from the tree — he was raised by a lesbian peace activist mother, is a Subaru driver, and his listening habits on Spotify are similar to people living in Berkeley, California. So far, that squares with what you would expect.

According to Uri Berliner, the 25-year veteran of taxpayer-funded, non-profit, biased reporting NPR, it has always been liberal. And yes, I will echo that sentiment from where I sit today. As a Texas-born, Bible-belt kid, who listened to Rush Limbaugh and went to vacation Bible school, youth camp, and Republican rallies — yes, NPR has always been a liberal outlet with no conservative thought. Conservative and Republican are dirty words at NPR.

So, what’s the scandal here, and why is this news breaking this week?

We already know this news, of course, but something has changed and it’s something to notice. Berliner reflects that NPR went from being a kind of high-browed, bookish, cultured news institution for coastal elites on the left to one that was “knee-jerk,” “activist,” and “scolding” of anyone who dared to disagree. NPR went from liberal purveyor to combatant in the arena. And I think Berliner is on to something we already know.

Since the presidential election of 2016 and the rise of Donald Trump’s influence on America’s cultural and political landscape at large, many media outlets with coastal loyalties and biases, including NPR, opted for a new level of antagonism and belligerency in their reporting. The bias in the media only grew from what had already existed to being pungent, odious, and intolerable. Berliner recounted that Congressman Adam Schiff was interviewed by NPR some 25 times about Russia collusion — yes, Russiagate — until the Robert Mueller report concluded there was no credible evidence to the allegations whatsoever. NPR went silent.

NPR also decidedly avoided the Hunter Biden laptop story as both a distraction and something that, according to Berliner, would have helped Donald Trump in his 2020 election efforts. NPR was no longer reporting with liberal bias, but purposefully curating news intended to lead and mislead the public.

During COVID, Berliner remarks that “one of the most dismal aspects of Covid journalism is how quickly it defaulted to ideological storylines.” That’s something you and I will most certainly echo today. That wasn’t just NPR, but every major media outlet was pushing quite hard on the COVID narrative as puppets of propaganda. Even in the broader evangelical world, outlets like Christianity Today were committed to the ideological story and framing rather than the truth or the facts — an embarrassing stance today that should not easily be forgotten.

According to Berliner, “The lab leak theory came in for rough treatment almost immediately, dismissed as racist or a right-wing conspiracy theory. Anthony Fauci and former NIH head Francis Collins, representing the public health establishment, were its most notable critics. And that was enough for NPR. We became fervent members of Team Natural Origin, even declaring that the lab leak had been debunked by scientists. But that wasn’t the case.”

Even as the pandemic carried on, several investigative journalists outside of NPR were able to make compelling cases for the lab leak with mounting evidence. NPR, however, insisted on natural origin as late as February 2023. The Wuhan lab gain-of-function research was later proven to be true.

Berliner continued on the deep absence of viewpoint diversity, saying, “There’s an unspoken consensus about the stories we should pursue and how they should be framed. It’s frictionless—one story after another about the instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies. It’s almost like an assembly line.”

Much like the rest of the media, NPR has no real conservatives working there, nor would any conservatives likely thrive there. But that lack of a balanced perspective has led to NPR’s inevitable decline, which included layoffs and cancellation of programming as NPR is losing listeners and much-needed advertising revenue. It is good to be reminded that there is always a price to pay when playing gatekeeper for ideology rather than reporting the truth.

NPR CEO Katherine Maher can be heard in a TED talk from 2022 discussing what she calls the balance between truth and beliefs. Maher, borrowing from Wikipedia, advocates for a model of reporting that is primarily devoted to common beliefs rather than divisive truth. But if there is no truth, then what does it mean to have common ground?

The Berliner story reveals there is bias; more importantly, there is dissension among the rank-and-file media class.

How should Christians think about this?

The counterfeit world of digital media, news, and information might seem monolithic and, if compared to a castle fortress, impregnable. But it has serious cracks and the foundation is built on sinking sand. No one can propagate myths and deceptions in perpetuity. There are real costs to doing that and the bill always comes due in the end.

As the saying goes, “They can fool everyone some of the time. They can fool some all of the time. But they can never fool everyone all of the time.” Truth always wins.

Christians are beholden to the truth. It is the truth that sets us free. It is also the truth that will gain acceptance in the world, the truth that must save the world, and the truth that will save the world.

In the book of Acts, the public enemies of Christ could not conceal the resurrection as fake news or a theory — not even for one day. They were compelled by overwhelming evidence to concede that the resurrection was real and the obvious truth that they had killed an innocent man.  Not even the Roman government, ruled by an absolute dictator with no delegated power, could overturn the truth or hide it from the world.

Yes, truth wins and truth saves. While the American people have lost their trust in the media, Christians had better not lose trust in the Gospel truth. Not only that it is the truth, but that it is the truth that will set us free.

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