National Public Radio (NPR) announced it was putting a “disinformation reporting team” together last Friday, drawing an immediate reaction from conservative commentators pointing out the abject hypocrisy of the move.
NPR is a publicly funded nonprofit media organization operating out of Washington, D.C.
NPR editorial director Nancy Barnes and executive editor Terence Samuel announced the creation of the team in a memo to the newsroom staff. Samuel said that NPR does not want to waste its audience’s time on stories that are “not real” and are “pure distractions.”
NPR described its disinformation team members as “data-savvy,” “expert in voting rights and election security,” and “unflappable and generous.” Team member Lisa Hagen was said to help “humanize the unfamiliar” by reporting on the “most radical wing of the gun rights movement.”
Among the outlet’s many reporting failures in recent years, its dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story was one of the first highlights discussed in response to its new attempt at “disinformation reporting.”
NPR also described former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately following his assassination as a “divisive arch-conservative.” After receiving sharp backlash, NPR amended its description somewhat, describing Abe instead as an “ultranationalist.”
NPR staffer Casey Morell posted a tweet about the disinformation team, describing its launch as “some great company news.” Replies to the post started piling up that described the many times that NPR itself has engaged in distributing misinformation.
Fox News contributor Gregg Re asked if NPR’s editor still thinks “the Hunter Biden laptop is not a real story,” and linked to a post from the editor in the runup to the 2020 election telling readers that the outlet was going to avoid reporting on the story at all.
Of course, the Hunter Biden laptop has since been authenticated by multiple outlets including the New York Times. The contents of the laptop are still being revealed, and already have wide-ranging implications for national security. All of the information needed to authenticate the laptop existed at the time NPR declared it a “non-story” that it refused to report.
NPR has also blown the coverage of other notable stories, including the Jussie Smollett hoax in 2019. He was described as a “victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.” Smollett was found guilty last year of faking the hate crime he alleged was committed against him.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw posted a tweet on Sunday calling out NPR as a prime source of disinformation. She tagged an NPR reporter and noted the outlet has reacted to “thousands of people sharing false and misleading NPR headlines” by refusing to apologize for lying or issue corrections. She said NPR has decided to “Just ignore it until it goes away,”