Do right-wing media outlets use “outrage as a business model” to spread misinformation?
NPR’s latest report, published on Monday, claims as much.
According to NPR, the success of conservative outlets — namely The Daily Wire, The Blaze, Breitbart and The Western Journal — can be attributed to questionable journalistic practices, i.e. publishing “aggregated and opinion content aimed at invoking outrage” after removing important context.
In comments provided exclusively to The Western Journal, The Daily Wire’s CEO, Jeremy Boreing, responded to the report.
“The difference between The Daily Wire and NPR is that we’re transparent about our biases and we don’t depend on the public dole. Their bulls**t hit piece against us was intellectually shoddy and riddled with inaccuracies, but hey, at least I get to pay for their insults with my tax money,” Boreing told The Western Journal.
Indeed, a closer look at the report reveals a number of inaccuracies.
Even more notably, it appears that, in its own coverage, NPR is guilty of its own criticisms — omitting important context, forwarding false claims and failing to communicate its own political bias.
NPR’s False and Misleading Claims
In its Monday story, NPR repeatedly boasts of its own reporting, referring to “an NPR analysis” and “an NPR review of stories on The Daily Wire.”
These analyses may not have been as extensive as the partially publicly-funded outlet has lead its readers to believe, however.
Among the findings from NPR’s “review of stories on The Daily Wire” was “numerous stories about potential side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, but none that portrayed the scientifically demonstrated efficacy of the vaccines or that focused explicitly on the hesitancy that has slowed the U.S. rollout.”
While it may sound much less glamorous, a quick search on Google of “Daily Wire Vaccine Effectiveness” proved to be more accurate than NPR’s supposed “review.”
Contrary to NPR’s claim, The Western Journal found multiple stories published by The Daily Wire that “portrayed the scientifically demonstrated efficacy of the vaccines” by reporting the exact percent effectiveness of available vaccines.
In yet another attempt to portray right-wing news as dishonest, NPR spoke with Judd Legum, a former Democratic campaign operative.
Examining The Daily Wire’s coverage of a May 20 Chicago Tribune article, Legun claimed that “The Daily Wire’s headline used a quote out of context to spice up the story.” However, it does not appear that the article’s title — “‘Slap In The Face’: Chicago Cops Vote ‘No-Confidence’ In Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Police Chief David Brown” — took anything out of context.
The full quote reads as follows — “It was a slap in the face to every member, especially the Gold Star Families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and deserve that respect annually, period, no excuses,” and was given by FOP president John Catanzara as he explained why Chicago officers were upset enough to vote “no-confidence” in the city’s mayor and police chief, just as the title suggested.
NPR’s misleading claims don’t stop there.
In a bid to further discredit conservative outlets, NPR performs a deceptive bait-and-switch. After first naming The Daily Wire, The Blaze, Breitbart and The Western Journal, NPR then discredits all conservative outlets as generally misleading by sharing The Daily Wire’s relatively low NewsGuard score.
“NewsGuard, a company started by journalists that rates the credibility of news sites based on a number of factors, scores The Daily Wire a 57/100,” NPR reported.
What the outlet fails to mention, however, is the fact that The Blaze currently holds a green checkmark of approval from NewsGuard and the last recorded score for The Western Journal was 100/100, showing that The Daily Wire’s lower score is far from representative of the industry at large.
Funny how NPR mentions Daily Wire’s 57 out of 100, but not TheBlaze’s green check or @WestJournalism‘s perfect score of 100 out of 100.
We rate this story “missing context.” https://t.co/HuvomO63mD
— The Upper Cut (@georgeupper) July 19, 2021
NPR goes on to distinguish “legacy media” outlets — itself, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Fox News — as more “reliable” than their conservative counterparts.
The reason given? According to NPR, legacy outlets are devoid of political bias while conservative outlets omit context in order to further the conservative agenda.
“It’s not clear that the millions of people engaging with the site’s news stories every month recognize that. The Daily Wire’s content looks no different in Facebook’s newsfeed than an article from a local newspaper, making it potentially difficult to distinguish between more and less reliable or biased information sources,” NPR reported.
Absent from NPR’s coverage, however, is the fact that all articles published by The Daily Wire include a disclaimer — “The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment.”
Moreover, while The Daily Wire, The Western Journal and like-minded news sources are open about their biases, legacy media outlets such as NPR are anything but.
And, according to the company’s former CEO, NPR’s coverage leans heavily towards the political left.
“Most reporters and editors are liberal — a now-dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio,” former NPR CEO Ken Stern wrote in a 2017 Op-Ed for the New York Post. “When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.”
NPR “Invoking Outrage” With Trump Coverage
Unlike most conservative news sources, NPR does not admit to the political slant of its coverage.
There are many examples of this, including the outlet’s coverage of former President Donald Trump.
Said coverage often characterized the former president as openly racist.
One might describe this sort of reporting as meant to invoke outrage.
Examples include an interview transcript comparing Trump’s supposed racism with the racism of past presidents, a story accusing Trump of publishing “racist tweets” and multiple stories supporting the “very fine people” hoax.
NPR’s coverage of President Joe Biden was much more favorable.
In fact, in a blatant example of misleading story selection (which NPR’s experts claim conservative outlets are guilty of) NPR refused to cover the Hunter Biden laptop scandal — the efficacy of which was subsequently confirmed by the FBI and a DOJ investigation — only weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” said NPR Managing Editor Terence Samuel at the time.
Three months later, the outlet opted to run an exposé on then-President-elect Joe Biden’s adopted dog.
President-elect Biden’s German shepherd, Major, will soon be the first dog to go from a shelter to the White House.
That shelter, the Delaware Humane Association, is planning a virtual “indoguration” ceremony for Major on Sunday.https://t.co/LNgTthLbEo
— NPR (@NPR) January 14, 2021
NPR’s Left-Wing Stances
Examples of NPR’s partisan coverage don’t stop there.
When it comes to social issues with clear partisan divides — LGBT rights, social justice issues and abortion — NPR’s coverage consistently parrots left-wing talking points.
For instance, one NPR story from June 2 was published simply as “a guide to gender identity terms.”
Additionally, in a March 3 tweet that received harsh backlash from critics of the trans-movement, NPR claimed that “detransition narratives” — stories of formerly-transgender individuals who regret having undergone permanent sex-change procedures — “are often weaponized against trans people.”
Detransition narratives are often weaponized against trans people. Torrey Peters says it’s time for trans people to reclaim them.
— NPR (@NPR) March 4, 2021
NPR also appeared to be highly selective in its coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement.
New story on NPR: Black Lives Matter Fights Disinformation To Keep The Movement Strong https://t.co/OMqy4ceaq1
— Jennifer Delmas (@JenniferD8133) May 25, 2021
Fact Check: yes, and the same report found that there were over 600 riots, and that 95 percent of those for which the identity of the perpetrators was known involved Black Lives Matter activists. Why does @NPR cover for the violence? Why not just cover it? https://t.co/VI6lO1mXvO
— Mike Gonzalez (@Gundisalvus) October 8, 2020
Even the outlet’s style guide is riddled with various examples of favoring leftism over conservatism.
For example, NPR does not consider the use of the term pro-life to be acceptable. Rather, NPR refers to abortion supporters as “abortion-rights supporters or abortion-rights advocates” and pro-life activists as “anti-abortion rights or abortion-rights opponents.” Also, NPR refuses to use the terms “partial-birth abortion” or “illegal immigrant.”
Furthermore, in a clearly partisan move, NPR uses transgender individuals’ preferred pronouns rather than those that align with their biological sex.
NPR Is Guilty of its Own Criticisms
In summary, while NPR’s report attempts to uncover the illicit journalistic practices of right-wing journalism, it only serves to highlight NPR’s own questionable practices.
A close examination of the evidence provided by NPR to support their claim proves it to be, in and of itself, misleading, missing context and, in some cases, completely false.
Furthermore, the publicly-funded outlet accuses said news sources of “invoking outrage” and allowing political bias to compromise factual reporting when the NPR’s very own coverage appears to be guilty of all of the above.
Perhaps NPR would be better served to set its own house in order.
The Western Journal reached out to NPR for comment but did not receive a reply in time for publication.
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