Republicans Call on NPR’s C.E.O. to Testify About Political Bias

Congressional Republicans on Wednesday said they had asked NPR’s new chief executive, Katherine Maher, to address accusations of political bias in the radio network’s journalism during a hearing next week.

A trio of Republican lawmakers —Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Bob Latta of Ohio and Morgan Griffith of Virginia —sent a six-page letter to Ms. Maher that notified her of an investigation into the network and requested her appearance on May 8.

“As a taxpayer funded, public radio organization, NPR should focus on fair and objective news reporting that both considers and reflects the views of the larger U.S. population and not just a niche audience,” the letter said.

The lawmakers, allmembers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the hearing would be held by the panel’s oversight subcommittee.

NPR declined to comment, but Ms. Maher may have a scheduling conflict. According to an agenda of NPR’s upcoming board of directors meeting, Ms. Maher is scheduled to convene with NPR’s board all day on May 8.

NPR has been scrutinized by conservatives in recent weeks after the publication of an essay by Uri Berliner, a former senior editor at the network, who said that the network had allowed progressive politics to affect its coverage of major stories. Mr. Berliner, who has since resigned, cited the network’s coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Hunter Biden’s laptop as examples of bias.

Mr. Berliner’s essay has generated vociferous pushback from many employees at NPR, who say that many of his points were factually inaccurate. Tony Cavin, NPR’s managing editor for standards, has said the network’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop, the Covid-19 pandemic and the investigation into Russian collusion by Robert S. Mueller III, a special counsel, hewed closely to responsible coverage by other mainstream news organizations.

Ms. Maher, who joined the network this year, has personally been targeted by conservative activists who have combed through her social media history and resurfaced posts that promoted progressive causes and critiqued former President Donald J. Trump. In one post, from 2018, Ms. Maher called Mr. Trump a “racist”; another from 2020 showed her wearing a hat with the logo of the Biden campaign.

NPR has said that Ms. Maher, the former chief executive of Wikimedia, wasn’t working in news at the time she made the posts, and added that she was exercising her First Amendment right to free expression.

Over the years, Republicans have occasionally threatened to pull government money from NPR, which comes from the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But those threats haven’t resulted in any significant funding reduction for the organization, which generates much of its revenue by selling radio programming to its member stations across the United States.

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