NPR pushes back against allegation it was influenced in Iran treaty coverage

NPR again pushed back today against an Associated Press story last week that strongly suggested a pro-peace, anti-nuke group in favor of the Iran nuclear treaty gained influence in NPR reporting through a grant to the news organization.

The Ploughshares Fund gave NPR $100,000 last year to fund its coverage of the treaty negotiations and subsequent deal.

“We created an echo chamber,” said Ben Rhodes, an Obama foreign policy aide, saying that “outside groups like Ploughshares” helped carry out the administration’s message effectively, the AP reported, citing a New York Times Magazine report.

“Our goal is not to make money,” NPR Senior Vice President of News Michael Oreskes told NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik during a Facebook live broadcast this afternoon. “It is to raise enough money to pay the bills. What was constructed at NPR is a very, very thick firewall. The only people at NPR who decide what we cover are the journalists. It’s absolutely rigid; we don’t allow anyone else to dictate what we cover or how we cover.”

But that isn’t exactly the way Ploughshares viewed things, the Associated Press story suggested.

Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was “driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress,” board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, “less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory.”

“I can’t control what they put in their foundation report,” Oreskes said today. “Their points of view have nothing to do with our coverage and they’re entitled to free speech.”

Folkenflik compared the dust-up to a controversy several years ago when NPR underwriting included messages from Walmart at a time when the company’s business practices were often in the news.

“Would we accept money from a Walmart foundation to underwrite coverage of the workplace if they promise not to interfere in coverage? Would we accept money from Boeing to cover national security and weaponry if they promised not to interfere in coverage?” Folkenflik asked Oreskes.

“I don’t know,” Oreskes responded. “We’d certainly want to discuss it.”

Folkenflik countered the complaint of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a critic of the treaty, who told the Associated Press that NPR wouldn’t put him on the air.

Folkenflik says he reviewed the coverage and noted that Sen. Chuck Schumer was interviewed in the same week. Schumer, a New York Democrat, opposed the deal, “an interview that showed some of the opposition was bipartisan,” Folkenflik said.

But neither Folkenflik nor Oreskes addressed the underpinning of ethics policies in many of the nation’s newsrooms: perception of a conflict of interest, particularly when the president of Ploughshares was put on the air — twice — to speak about the negotiations, AP said.

Oreskes appeared to contradict himself a bit when he responded to Folkenflik’s question about hypothetical funders of NPR News.

“We really do try to be open to as broad and diverse a group of funders and underwriters as possible,” he said, “both because the broader the group, the less anyone’s influence is, and also because there is a bit of a First Amendment idea, which is that controversial ideas or the purveyors of controversial ideas shouldn’t be shut out simply because their ideas are controversial, even from our airwaves.”

How can there be a lessening of influence based on diversity of funding sources in a system in which, by design, there is no influence?

Folkenflik didn’t pick up on the word in Oreskes’ answer, and the format of the Facebook Live chat — for which NPR makes money, by the way — is problematic for taking questions from the audience despite Folkenflik’s multiple requests for the audience to participate. I’ve sent an email seeking clarification. [Update: “Yes, to be clear, the firewall is absolute,” Oreskes said.]

Oreskes said the public radio model is still better than commercial broadcasters who are, he suggested, influenced by advertisers.

“At least when we give you the journalism,” he said, “it’s our journalism.”

NPR ombudsman: Did Ploughshares Grant Skew NPR’s Iran Deal Coverage? (NPR)

  • Jeff
    • // Sounds just like Facebook, they just put hard left leaning journalists in charge of story coverage so they can suggest that the money didn’t influence them.

      Facebook has journalists?

      I don’t have the original quote by Dayton regarding shutdown. If you could provide it, that’d be helpful.

      Since I don’t recall it nor remember hearing it, I can’t give you my opinion of what he heard.

      • I’ve read Richert’s piece. I’m trying to understand the context. Is Dayton saying he wouldn’t shut down public safety and education? Is he saying he’s agree to a budget he didn’t like? If one didn’t reach his desk (because the legislature didn’t pass it), did he shut down the state government. I don’t knowl.

        Now, what was this Walker story you’re referring to?

        • The only thing I can find is this:

          http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/10/15/daily-circuit-scott-walker-jobs

          That’s not an “attack piece”. That’s a talk show.

          • Jeff

            Listen to the show, the entire thing was an attack piece…essentially going after Walker for his job numbers not quite matching his predictions. It’s a lot easier to show the EXACT words Dayton used when he promised not to shutdown state government.

            I was asking for fair coverage, if we’re going to get a “talk show” about Walker’s disappointing job numbers (which still increased, just not as much as he predicted) then by all means we should have a “talk show” about our own governor’s outright lie about not shutting down the government within a few weeks of the election.

          • Unquestionably, I think Dayton promising not to shut down state government is dumb because there’s one other entity made up of two factions who are in charge of coming up with a state budget and the executive branch doesn’t control the legislative branch.

            The show on Wisconsin’s economy is entirely fair game and I’m not going to waste any time today explaining why.

          • Jeff

            I’m not questioning whether or not Wisconsin is fair game, I entirely agree that it is…but the timing of the show is suspect in my mind…just a few weeks before the election and then giving his opponent air time on MPR (which does reach into Wisconsin). I understand that Scott Walker turned down the chance to come on the air…which is on him but maybe you don’t put his opponent on the air if he’s not on to defend himself, which turned into a full out assault against him. Besides that, I would have enjoyed another segment done about Dayton’s broken promise about not shutting down government within weeks before the election like we got with Walker…maybe even allow his opponent (Jeff Johnson if I remember correctly, not that’s not me!) on the air to discuss that point. I’m asking for balance here…I know MPR can be better otherwise I wouldn’t care enough to discuss it.

          • Jeff Johnson had every chance to talk about Dayton’s promise. We aired every debate and he was in the studio.

            What exactly are you talking about re: Walker’s opponent?. Mary Burke wasn’t a guest on that show, which was a really great discussion on issues like the skills gap and geographical differences between Wisconsin and Minnesota..

    • BReynolds33

      Just to be clear, you’re referencing the Facebook trending stories non-story, right? I just want to be sure before I answer because I don’t really want to waste my time completely explaining how the Facebook algorithm works to someone who is just going to pretend they know better.

      • Oh, that nonsense. Cripes. Who cares? Who reads that junk anyway? Even if the rich kid manipulated his news feeds, how is that different from FoxNews or MSNBC. I’m missing what the crime is here.

      • Jeff

        You missed the part where Facebook admitted that the stories were be procured by recent graduates from East Coast Universities and tended to be disproportionately far left wing liberals…like most Bernie supporters…so you missed that part, right?

        http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/05/pop-quiz-how-closely-have-you-been-following-the-facebook-trending-topics-mini-scandal/

        http://gizmodo.com/former-facebook-workers-we-routinely-suppressed-conser-1775461006

        From that second article:

        These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the “trending” module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site.

        Link to another story from the 2nd article: http://gizmodo.com/want-to-know-what-facebook-really-thinks-of-journalists-1773916117

        • What do I care what some social network full of crackpots and people who believe whatever they read does? It’s not a news network. Seriously. Who could possibly give a damn?

          Facebook? Seriously? Facebook?

          • Jeff

            The Facebook scandal is just another example of this…not my main point, but I do appreciate the standard liberal debate tactic of focusing in on that minor offhanded point (which I did prove by providing 3 links backing up my accusations) while essentially ignoring my larger point. I hope you’re watching Silicon Valley because the same scandal happened on that show…they make it look like a joke, because which tech company would actually stoop so low…well Facebook is doing and has done it.

            But to get back to my main point, does story selection indicate bias? I believe it does, and I believe certain stories are chosen or ignored based on the political beliefs of those who make those decisions. Now that we can move beyond the challenges of validity of my argument maybe we can have that serious discussion…

            BTW, why you should care about Facebook’s newsfeed:

            http://fortune.com/2015/08/18/facebook-google/

            http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/04/facebook_isn_t_the_social_network_anymore_so_what_is_it.html

            From the second article:

            “So what has the Facebook app and site become, if not a social network? The answer is rather obvious when you watch how people use it. It has become a personalized portal to the online world.

            This world includes news—more than 40 percent of American adults say they use Facebook for that purpose—but also entertainment, games, and yes, updates from friends and family. As a source of referral traffic to publishers around the web, it has become so dominant as to reshape how companies report, present, and distribute their content. Since the rise of the internet, companies have vied to build the perfect portal, the home page that would become everyone’s on-ramp to the information superhighway. Others have tried to devise the ultimate news reader, a personalized feed of the best stories and content from around the internet. Without ever saying so in as many words, Facebook has managed to do both—far from perfectly, of course, but more effectively than perhaps anyone since AOL.”

          • Well, since I have an IQ above an otter, nothing you send me for links and talking points is going to make me take anything on Facebook seriously and the day I turn to Facebook for my news is the day I’ll gouge my eyes out.

            It has no credibility with me and I refuse to give it any.

          • Jeff

            I don’t even have a Facebook account, I was referencing it to make a point…

          • If you did have a Facebook account, what you’d learn is it’s news feed is NOT its timeline. the timeline, which is why most people have Facebook, is useful for baby otters, finding old girlfriends, and finding out if your kids have been arrested yet.

            Its news feed is another thing entirely.

            Most “news” that appears on Facebook is actually exchanged by people posting news stories, not by Facebook. This is how, for example, we learned that Lincoln had a lot of great things to say about the Internet, that Obama was born in Kenya, and that Justin Bieber is moving to Minnetonka.

          • Jeff

            Sure, that’s legitimate editing but that’s not all the stories, there were many other stories (like people sharing the “Sniper” movie and real story) that were being manually removed from that timeline…that’s where I bring up this question…I would also suggest that a lot more stories about Scott Walker’s disappointing job numbers made into the timeline vs Dayton’s blatant broken promise about not shutting down government would not. Probably minor things but when you’re bombarded with that bias in all your media it’s a lot easier to be liberal…I mean I should know I leaned left for a long time before becoming more of libertarian (that usually supports the GOP, at least in this state)…trust me it’s a LOT easier to be a liberal.

          • I generally scoff at the notion that there is conservative and there is liberal. I don’t even know what that means anymore. And neither does your party, which is why it started calling people who weren’t as far to the right as them RINOs.

            And you’re seeing it in the Democratic party now too with the Sanders v. Clinton crowd.

            It’s all so simple for people to debate this sort of stuff with just two flavors. It’s just not reality.

          • Rob

            It’s not hard to be a conservative. There’s a huge, welcoming echo chamber ready to hold you in its warm embrace. Try the Drudge Report, Blaze, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

          • Jeff

            Those are echo chambers with no thoughtful reflection, I’m not necessarily a conservative…honestly I’m somewhere in between and I believe both Hillary and Trump are awful choices…I suppose I’m more fiscally conservative and liberal on social issues, I’d consider myself libertarian leaning.

          • ” that would become everyone’s on-ramp to the information superhighway”

            It’s 2016. “The information superhighway” ????

          • Jeff

            Yeah, I didn’t write it…I mean it was Slate…

    • Rob

      Yes, because Facebook is recognized as the sine qua non of journalistic integrity and objectivity.

      • Jeff

        It’s just the most common portal to news and information in the 1st world, that’s all.

        • No. Just. No.

          • Jeff

            Was AOL not the main portal to news in the mid to late 1990’s?

  • PaulJ

    I doubt if money influences NPR. I could believe NPR’s style influences Ploughshares’ contribution profile. There is a lot of “narrative” from the oppressed type story’s on NPR and not as many from the government has its hand in my pocket types that might make one think NPR is promoting change (as opposed to conservatism).

  • Jeff

    Mr. Collins, I appreciate the frank discussion we can have on here and you taking time to respond. My only hope is that you might hear people in the MPR newsroom that have different perspectives (political and otherwise) that feel comfortable enough to speak up and question the timing or types of shows that MPR does. Based on the story selection (especially local radio segments) I would make an assumption there are very few conservatives/libertarians at MPR. I could be wrong and you can let me know if I am, maybe the newsroom is filled with conservatives and I’m just seeing something that’s not there but I would guess it’s more of a left leaning newsroom with very few challenges to that perspective. I just ask that people in the newsroom speak up about the timing and story selection (we get our weekly climate change brow beating on the MPR News show, I’m not a denier but I’m more of a realist…very few viable solutions that would be actually effective in stopping it). So situations like the Walker attack piece would be accompanied with a similar attack piece on Dayton or at least not having Walker’s main opponent on the air without Walker there to face those challenges. I mean Walker’s opponent literally got about 2-3 minutes of free air time to just lay into Walker.

    I hope many at MPR can understand the bias of story selection even though I think MPR does a great job and I really enjoy MPR’s content…I would just ask that MPR have a bit more self reflection and maybe hire a few more conservatives and libertarians to offer up a bit more variety of thought and challenge that status quo I see.

    • Again, Mary Burke was not on the show.

      • Jeff

        She was on this show though, without a challenge from Walker:

        http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/10/24/daily-circuit-mary-burke

        If you look at the comment section I did attempt to point all this out at the time…just asking for a show about Dayton’s broken promises…like we got with Walker a few weeks before the election.

        • Well, that’s too bad. If Walker didn’t want to appear on the show, that’s his choice. He was offered the opportunity.

          Similar to the 2nd District GOP debate a few weeks ago in which 3 of the candidates took the opportunity to better inform their voters and one didn’t. We didn’t cancel the show because he chose not to participate.

          Walker didn’t want to appear? He’s responsible for his own decisions.

          • Jeff

            Sure but 2 weeks before MPR did an attack piece about Walker’s job numbers…yet no accompanying segment questioning the wisdom of Dayton’s broken promise to not shutdown government. If I’m the politician being attacked then I’m going to see that MPR already picked a side and it’s probably not my side.

          • By ‘attack piece’, what you really mean is it analyzed the difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota, culturally, geographically, politically, economically. And you describe it as an attack piece because Gov. Walker had made a promise and for whatever reason, it wasn’t kept. The economists explain why it wasn’t kept.

            That’s analysis and knowledge and if there are facts in there that are incorrect, we should hear about it. The fact that it’s discussed doesn’t mean MPR picked a side unless by “picked a side” you mean uninformed v. informed.

            If your editorial choice would have been to simply not take on the topic of why Minnesota was succeeding economically while Wisconsin was lagging, I see that as a much more biased position because the FACT is that Minnesota has been succeeding where Wisconsin has not. Some of that is political, much of it is not as the show pointed out.

            The governor built his brand around the economy and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for him. If it had he probably could’ve parlayed the “Wisconsin miracle” into a White House gig. C’est la vie.

          • Jeff

            All those things are true, I question the timing of the story which could have had a very large impact on the Wisconsin election a few weeks before one of the closest gubernatorial elections in the nation that year (Walker barely won 52% of the vote). Why not do that show in the summer, June or July? Why not focus in on Governor Dayton’s broken promise a few weeks before the election, wouldn’t that have been a wonderful, interesting show. Couldn’t you see how selectively informing the public at just the right time shows some bias…while ignoring other (and I would suggest larger, due to Dayton’s full control of vetoing bills) broken promises within our own state leading up to the election. Oddly enough we didn’t get similar shows comparing job numbers of Minnesota with other neighboring states like North Dakota, South Dakota or Iowa just before the election; maybe those states didn’t have close enough elections to warrant coverage. I would just like MPR to be more aware of those types of stories near an election…that MPR should avoid even the appearance of bias within a month of an election and any sort of story that appears to favor a certain political party should be balanced with a story that reflects poorly on another political party.

          • Informing people and having an intelligent discussion isn’t showing a bias.

            //any sort of story that appears to favor a certain political party should be balanced with a story that reflects poorly on another political party.

            I don’t even…

          • Jeff

            Choosing the timing of stories shows bias, why not do the jobs show after the election? Why not a few months earlier? You can’t tell me that there wasn’t some small hope that the jobs show would “inform” Wisconsin voters and sway them to vote for Ms. Burke just a few weeks before the election. Why didn’t we get a segment on Dayton’s broken promise about not shutting down the government within a month before the 2014 election? Story selection and timing together shows bias.

          • Well, again, you describe the typical listener bias. In the absence of knowledge, you impose your belief system as reality.

            When someone starts a sentence with “you can’t tell me…” that’s a sign that there is no interest in facts and reason. Only in procuring a confirmation bias.

          • Jeff

            We all have bias, to deny that is hubris…I will come out and directly tell you my viewpoints and be honest about it so people can understand where I’m coming from. To deny the fact that a particular story or the timing of that story wasn’t politically motivated in anyway is to deny reality. Many on the left would like to have every political donor named, outed for the sake of transparency I would ask that we apply the same logic to journalists…the campaigns they have volunteered for, donated to or even candidates that everyone involved in the news supports should be made public (by every news organization voluntarily) so that we as the public understand that this news organization/reporter is a liberal/conservative/apolitical and we can take their reporting with a grain of salt. I’d like to see journalists admit their political leanings and then overcome them instead of pretending that we’re all unbiased robots and we’d never let that bias seep out through story selection/timing.

          • I don’t know of anybody who has ever denied that everyone has a bias. That’s not really an issue.

            You want journalists to admit their political leanings? Why? Political leanings are nuanced things and in this current world where politics is the new religion, there’s little room for nuance among the fools who dictate public discourse. I’ve voted for Republicans. I’ve voted for Democrats. Quite often, I don’t vote at all. I don’t take part in caucuses and with the new primary rules in Minnesota, I won’t vote in primaries either. So what?

            People already do take reporting with a grain of salt. But they do so because it challenges their belief system. Increasingly, all the audience wants is their own biases confirmed. Nothing more. The fools.

          • Rob

            I can’t believe you’re comparing Walker’s demonstrably failed economic notions to the one-time head-butting between Dayton and the opposition-dominated state house that led to a brief govt. shutdown.

          • Jeff

            Yeah, Dayton’s lie was far worse, he had 100% control over it vs Walker’s job estimations which have thousands of factors and he has very little control over a handful of those factors.

        • Rob

          If a public official is offered a chance to appear on a public broadcasting show, and chooses not to, said show is under no obligation to adjust the show or filter the comments of scheduled guests.

      • // maybe the newsroom is filled with conservatives and I’m just seeing something that’s not there but I would guess it’s more of a left leaning

        I don’t know who’s a conservative and who’s not. I don’t talk to people here about their politics. We evaluate stories and we discuss angles and while no one is free from bias, I’m much more depressed by the listener bias from people who — in the absence of knowledge — will substitute their own reality and spend more of their time looking for an echo chamber.

        The last few shows I’ve hosted on MPR have been about neuroscience, China, regret, GHW Bush, the role of third parties in U.S. history, and Alzheimer’s research.

        I recognize that people don’t choose to listen to MPR because they think it’s biased but that’s up to them. If they want to be more ignorant about neuroscience, China, GHW Bush, the role of third parties and Alzheimer’s research, that’s their choice.

        I’ll tell you what DOES alarm me. U.S. Senators who want to wade into the editorial policies of any news organization — and, again, I’m not calling Facebook a news organization.

        I’m sorry, politicians, that is NONE of your business.

        • Jeff

          What about if tax payers are funding that organization…is it a valid request for US Senators to question what is going on with that organization?

          • I assume you’re talking NPR b/c I don’t believe the government funds Facebook and the answer is “no.”

            Broadcasters are a little different species because they don’t receive full protection of the First Amendment (which is too bad).

            Government funding is a quid pro quo, half of which you NEVER hear about in these sorts of discussions. The government DICTATES how public broadcasting can make its revenue and so in EXCHANGE for that restriction on revenue, it provides its own.

          • Rob

            No. This ain’t China. There’s this thing called freedom of the press here…

          • Jeff

            I didn’t mention news, that organization could be FEMA, TSA, etc…I was just curious if people would jump to the NPR conclusion…which they did.

          • Jared

            You said “that organization” in a response to Bob’s comment which was discussing new organizations as a response to your comment about MPR in a blog about NPR. No other organization was mentioned prior. What a grand trick you’ve played on everyone making them appear stupid for jumping to that conclusion.

          • Jeff

            I specifically didn’t mention NPR and MPR to show inanity of the idea that Congress shouldn’t have some influence over the organizations that tax payers fund…like NSA, TSA, FEMA, CIA…of course those groups should have and need Congressional over sight.

          • Strawman argument. There’s nothing in the topic of this post that has anything to do with Congress exerting influence over government agencies.

          • There’s nothing in the Constitution prohibiting Congress from providing oversight to FEMA, TSA etc., which is part of the government.

    • kennedy

      The topic here is a concern about underwriters (read money) influencing reporting.

      Your posts have focused on the governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Are you suggesting that a source of funding influenced coverage or appeared to do so?

      If so, what source of money do you think influenced the coverage?

      If not, you are hijacking the conversation.

      • Jeff

        Conversation is already hijacked as you can tell by the subsequent comments…I believe the topic is bias in general…we can have different beliefs about the actual topic of the story.

        How is the bias of the journalists/editors or the majority in the newsroom any different than a bias purchased by a contributor?

        Bias is bias and it should be acknowledged and attempted to be accounted for or offset rather than trying to pretend we can eliminate it completely…the subtle bias of like minded thought is probably the most insidious type of bias. There’s a reason they announce their contributors on NPR for all to hear…they want to make it clear they are receiving those funds and make sure we all know it, that’s transparency. Yet when I ask for journalists to make their personal political beliefs/opinions known I meet up against resistance…how is that any different?

        • Why stop at political beliefs/opinions? The number of politics stories is actually quite small. Should they reveal their income ? Sexual identity? Whether they’ve ever had an abortion?

          I’ve noodled on this idea before and can play it both ways. If you know a reporter voted GOP in the last election (again, this presumes people vote straight tickets,which is, itself, a questionable conclusion), and he/she/it does a story that you think impugnes a DFLer, you might well conclude that the story is biased because the person voted GOP in the last election. You might not even pay attention to the guts of the story — which is becoming standard operating procedure in the “it must be true, I read it on the internet” mentality era — because of that fact.

          We live in an era where people are unable to distinguish between what they think and what they know, and an era where critical thinking skills have evaporated. We need better journalists, for sure. We also need better listeners/readers.

          • Jeff

            Sure, but right before you hear a story about a corporation you’ll tend to hear whether or not that news agency has an association with that corporation…I don’t see political beliefs being all that different. If you want to do a story about abortion, sure volunteer that you had an abortion or were involved with a woman who made that choice…it’s relevant to the issue being discussed and being reported on so I would like to know about it. When someone advocates for or against marijuana usage there tends to be a qualifier whether or not that person uses it currently or has experimented with it in the past…that is relevant information if that’s the issue being covered. I agree with you on the critical thinking aspect of the typical listener and readers but I believe it starts with news outlets today…when we see the head of NBC news happens to be married to a political operative of a certain political party, I think that’s important to know.

          • I think, basically, it’s none of anyone’s business.

          • Jeff

            Even the part about the company you’re reporting on being an owner of your news organization?

            What about if a reporter/editor donates to a political group or volunteers (or has in the past) for a certain political group? Should that be known?

          • It would likely be known by the boss and reporter/editor would likely be removed. Consider the case of the All Things Considered host at NPR whose husband took a job in the Obama administration. She was removed from her position. Why? Because ethics. There are many, many similar cases. The PiPress disciplined reporters for going to a Springsteen concert, for example.

            If you’re reporting on a company that owns your news organiazation (the Las Vegas newspaper comes to mind) then of course you point that out. That’s different from a private life of a reporter. See, what you’re doing in those cases is injecting bias where none likely exists. You make it easy to, for example, dismiss any reporting on abortion if a reporter had an abortion regardless of the quality of the reporting. That doesn’t really make the journalism more trustworthy. It makes it more irrelevant.

          • Jeff

            I think that’s a bit harsh to just remove someone from a job because their spouse is involved in politics, I could see that person resigning due to ethical conflicts but just because a person has one set of political beliefs doesn’t necessarily mean their spouse does. But it would be something to avoid that person covering political stories or just let people understand the connection when reporting on a political story…that’s what I would ask…not that people are removed from their jobs.

            I would never disqualify someone’s article or story due to their admission of having an abortion, in fact, I’d take that person’s perspective more seriously since they experienced it directly. I don’t mind if someone comes out and tells me they have a bias, if they can do honest and straightforward reporting without bias effecting their reporting I can respect that even more than this idea that reporters simply don’t have biases and that we cannot ever talk about them. I trust someone like Bill Maher or John Oliver to give me their view of the story with all their bias because they come out and admit it vs someone who claims to have no bias. I disagree with those 2 guys on many issues but they let me know where they’re coming from and I can respect that (although there was a single episode of Last Week Tonight that took that bias one step too far).

          • It gets to what I mentioned in the post…. the PERCEPTION of a conflict of interest is quite often much, much more prevalent than an actual conflict of interest. That’s also why I think the perception of NPR’s problem here isn’t so much the fact there was a grant. It’s that the giver of the grant was selected to appear on the air.

          • Jeff

            Doesn’t that happen all the time with NPR? Doesn’t Koch Industries donate to Marketplace and then they put Charles Koch on the air to talk to him about his book and career? I personally thought it was a great moment for the show for one of the Koch brothers to actually articulate how he wanted to remove all corporate subsidies (even though Kai pushed him hard on that)…I suggest every anti-Koch person listen to that interview before judging the Koch brothers. I just don’t think sponsorship is as much of a problem as the subconscious bias we hear/see with story selection and what gets covered and how it gets covered. Here’s that interview:

            http://www.marketplace.org/2015/10/21/business/corner-office/full-interview-charles-koch

          • Marketplace isn’t an NPR program.

          • Jeff

            I wasn’t aware of the structural difference…so APM shows aren’t associated with NPR? But are played on the air of NPR? Does NPR pay APM for their content behind the scenes then? How does that partnership work?

            Odd that the NPR.org website lists Marketplace as one of their podcasts:
            http://www.npr.org/podcasts/381444600/marketplace

            Do shows like Marketplace and Radiolab receive government dollars to operate?

          • Jeff

            So MPR is under the APM umbrella competing with NPR??? Which Marketplace is part of APM…so APM is the employer for everyone at MPR…or the parent company of MPR?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Public_Media

  • Mike Worcester

    Before this all came up, I had never heard of Ploughshares. Fine, there are lots of foundations who make donations to organizations like NPR. I will say as a member of MPR and a regular listener, I definitely heard both sides of the Iran nuclear deal.

    During the normalization of relations with Cuba by the Obama administration, I definitely heard comments by opposing voices, including members of the President’s party (ex – Sen. Robert Menendez, NJ) who was quite vocal in that opposition.

    Honestly, I am not as much a fan of AP as I once was. Haven’t they lost a number of newspapers over the last decade (including the Strib)?

  • Edward Carney

    Just a matter of accuracy here: This article repeatedly refers to the Iran nuclear “treaty.” The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is not a treaty. It did not rise to the same standards for congressional approval, and it does not have the same enforcement mechanisms. In fact, as the Obama administration has publicly acknowledged, the JCPOA is not even a signed document. It is an informal agreement among seven countries, which either side may withdraw from at any time, without penalty other than the loss of their own benefits under the agreement.

    I hope the article will be corrected, as referring to the deal repeatedly as a treaty is not a trivial error.