US public radio editor resigns citing criticism from Web Summit chairwoman

Uri Berliner quit NPR claiming he was ‘disparaged’ by broadcaster’s CEO Katherine Maher

Uri Berliner, the US National Public Radio (NPR) editor who accused the broadcaster of liberal bias in an online essay which prompted criticism from conservatives and recrimination from many of his co-workers, has resigned from the non-profit.

Berliner said in a social media post Wednesday that he was resigning because of criticism from the network’s chief executive, Katherine Maher. Ms Maher joined NPR earlier this year from Web Summit where she had replaced Paddy Cosgrave as CEO last November. She remains as chairwoman of the events business.

“I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay,” Berliner wrote.

In his brief resignation letter, addressed to Maher, Berliner said he loved NPR, calling it a “great American institution,” adding that he respects “the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism.”


An NPR spokesperson, Isabel Lara, said the non-profit does not comment on personnel matters.

In an interview, Berliner said his decision to resign from NPR coalesced early this week after an email exchange with Maher. He said in the interview that he could infer from one of her emails that a memo she had sent to employees last week about workplace integrity was referring to him even though he had not been mentioned by name. In the email, which was sent to Berliner on Monday, Maher said her memo “stands for itself in reflecting my perspective on our organisation.”

“Everything completely changed for me on Monday afternoon,” Berliner said.

Berliner’s essay stirred up a hornet’s nest of criticism of NPR and made Berliner something of a pariah within the network. Several employees told The New York Times that they no longer wished to work with him, and his essay was denounced by Edith Chapin, the network’s top editor.

Many journalists at NPR pushed back against the essay, including “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep, who said on the newsletter platform Substack that Berliner failed to “engage anyone who had a different point of view.”

“This article needed a better editor,” Inskeep wrote. “I don’t know who, if anyone, edited Uri’s story, but they let him publish an article that discredited itself.”

Berliner’s essay found some defenders among the ranks of former NPR employees. Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, a former ombudsman, said on social media that Berliner was “not wrong.” Chuck Holmes, a former managing editor at NPR, called Berliner’s essay “brave” on Facebook.

Critics of NPR, including conservative activists, used Berliner’s essay in The Free Press to impugn the network’s journalism and its leadership. One of them, Christopher Rufo, began resurfacing social media posts from Maher that were critical of President Donald Trump and embraced progressive causes. Rufo has a history of pressuring media organisations to cover critical stories of well-known figures, including the plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay, the former Harvard president.

NPR said in a statement this week that Maher’s social media posts predated her term as chief executive, adding that she was not working in news at the time.

Before he resigned from NPR, Berliner was on a five-day suspension from the network for violating company policy against working for outside organisations without securing permission.

Berliner said he did not have any immediate plans after leaving NPR, adding that he was looking forward to getting more sleep and spending time with his family. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times.