Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

For The Record, NPR Absolutely Is US State Propaganda

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2023

Indeed, the problem with the “state-affiliated media” label hasn’t so much been that it exists, but that it will always be unevenly applied. The label gets pinned to outlets like RT and China Daily while left off of known US propaganda outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Voice of America. This designation is also nowhere to be seen on other outlets which receive a far greater share of their funding from the state than NPR does, like the UK’s BBC, Australia’s ABC, Canada’s CBC, and the Saudi Press Agency.

Caitlin Johnstone

American liberals are in an uproar over Twitter’s recent labeling of National Public Radio as “US state-affiliated media”, a designation typically reserved for state media from governments the US is trying to topple like Russia’s RTChina’s CGTN, and Iran’s Press TV.

In an article titled “Twitter labels NPR’s account as ‘state-affiliated media,’ which is untrue,” NPR’s Bill Chappell attempts to argue that his outlet does not deserve to have the same labels affixed to it as state media from naughty governments like Russia and China:

“Noting the millions of listeners who support and rely upon NPR for ‘independent, fact-based journalism,’ NPR CEO John Lansing stated, ‘NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy.'”

It is an interesting choice to spotlight NPR’s CEO John Lansing while trying to argue that NPR is not state-affiliated, given that Lansing spent his pre-NPR years as the CEO of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM). USAGM is the US government narrative management umbrella which runs overt US state propaganda outlets like Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Voice of America.

In a 1977 article titled “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,” The New York Times explicitly names Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Asia as part of the network constructed by the Central Intelligence Agency to circulate  propaganda. As’s Bryce Greene recently noted, USAGM received $810 million in US federal funding in 2022, which is more than twice the amount RT received from Russia for its global operations in 2021.

Lansing’s history is not an anomaly; NPR is regularly overseen by executives who came directly from senior positions in Washington’s official propaganda network. From 1998 to 2008 NPR’s president was a man named Kevin Klose, who previously ran Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and then returned to that job after his decade-long NPR stint. A man named Ken Stern became NPR’s executive vice president in 1999 and was appointed CEO in 2006; prior to that he was the senior advisor to the director of the USAGM’s International Broadcasting Bureau.

So it is a bit funny that John Lansing is now cited complaining about NPR being labeled “state-affiliated media” on Twitter, given that he has devoted his life to promulgating US state-affiliated media. NPR receives funding from the US government, consistently advances the information interests of the US government, and is routinely run by professional propagandists of the US government. You could spend hours of your life just reading through’s “NPR” section to see the many, many ways that platform has exhibited wild biases to grease the wheels of the US empire. If NPR is not state-affiliated media, then nobody is.

In his efforts to argue that his outlet is not state-affiliated media, Bill Chappell also hilariously points out that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended NPR as a wonderful exemplar of journalistic integrity:

When asked about Twitter’s decision during the White House’s daily briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to address Twitter’s content rules specifically. But she also defended NPR’s journalism.

“There is no doubt of the independence of NPR journalists,” Jean-Pierre said. “If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of their questions, you know this.”

Yeah great argument Bill, “The White House says we’re good so we can’t possibly be US state-affiliated media.”

Defenders of NPR try to argue that the label is inaccurate because NPR only receives a small amount of its funding from the US government (between one percent and 15 percent depending on whose talking points they’re reciting), but this claim is undercut by NPR’s own claim that “Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR [emphasis theirs].”

It’s probably also worth saying that if I was receiving between one and 15 percent of my funding from the government of Russia or China, I feel quite confident that Twitter would slap me with the “state-affiliated” label immediately, as it has so many others.

See the rest here

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