As Twitchy reported, last weekend NPR’s “Code Switch” — which describes itself on the NPR website as “Race. In Your Face.” — published an interview with the author of “In Defense of Looting” with no pushback whatsoever. “The rioters who smash windows and take items from stores, she claims, are engaging in a powerful tactic that questions the justice of ‘law and order,’ and the distribution of property and wealth in an unequal society,” wrote Natalie Escobar. In a transcript of the interview, author Vicky Osterweil explained that looting “provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be.”
The book and the interview are both nuts, and it sounds like NPR got some complaints, because public editor Kelly McBride replied to an email complaining about the lack of fact-checking on the piece.
NPR's public editor says the recent Code Switch looting interview "did not serve NPR’s audience." Code Switch editor Steve Drummond said the piece was fact-checked but "we should have done more.” pic.twitter.com/d1AlZjWXIx
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) September 3, 2020
I asked Code Switch editor Steve Drummond if the piece was fact-checked, and he said, “This piece was fact-checked but we should have done more.”
A new introduction was added to provide more context and prepare the reader to digest the author’s ideas. Still, this failure to challenge this author’s statements is harmful on two levels. Publishing false information leaves the audience misinformed. On top of that, news consumers are watching closely to see who is challenged and who isn’t. In this case a book author with a radical point of view far to the left was allowed to spread false information. Casual observers might conclude that NPR is more interested in fact-checking conservative viewpoints than liberal viewpoints. Or possibly, that bias on the part of NPR staff interferes with their judgment when spotting suspect information.
This is amazing not only because NPR describes the author as having “a radical point of view far to the left,” but because there’s at least the question that bias on the part of NPR’s staff interferes with their judgment.
I listen to NPR all the time, love a lot of the programming. But these apologies and explanations are pro forma, few will see and read it. Would be great if codeswitch would do an episode from the perspective of someone who lives in a town that's been looted.
— Ahab's Ghost (@AhabGhost) September 3, 2020
Never happening. Maybe after the election.
— MarginalResult (@MarginalResult) September 3, 2020
It serves basically no material audience. Wonder if they would’ve arrived at the same conclusion if it weren't widely panned by industry colleagues.
— Robert Showah (@robertisnthere) September 3, 2020
Was anyone actually convinced looting is good after listening to this interview?
— Georgia Smith (@Georgia85485397) September 3, 2020
Seemed like the interviewer was leaning into it.
— Lookwell 🇯🇵 (@PlayseHoulder) September 3, 2020
The fact that this piece got as far as it did shows how bad things have gotten. Someone should have said "wait a piece on what?" and done something much earlier.
— Dave-ish (@Daveish07) September 3, 2020
It’s nice that they addressed the most egregious example but they have an extremely broad problem where any guest who fits NPR’s politics is treated with the utmost deference and rarely challenged. It’s painful to listen to even when I agree with the guest
— job assassin (@gyhb_c) September 3, 2020
Or when discussing a subject they will have two experts on who 100% agree with each other.
— Barron Trump's Ennui (@TokyoSexGreg) September 3, 2020
I do appreciate his modocum of honesty in acknowledging that they "may appear" to only dispute conservative ideas although there is no "may" in it nor is it mere appearance.
— Grateful Reb (@HaleGlynn) September 3, 2020
In other words, @NPR continues to carry water for far left extremists.
— The Golden Rule (@Regula_Aurea) September 3, 2020
— Will Collier (@willcollier) September 3, 2020
Imagine this incident had been platforming of someone on the right. The hosts would be cancelled. The show would be cancelled.
— SkepticalWaves (@SkepticalWaves) September 3, 2020
"did not serve our audience".
Translation: Made us look like fools.
— Muriel Schwenck (@MurielSchwenck) September 3, 2020
NPR: “They set us up.”
— Wesley Mullins (@wesleyamullins) September 3, 2020
Simple mistake. After simple mistake. After simple mistake.
All breaking the same way. Oops.
— Biden physical must include a cognitive assessment (@FollowFew1) September 3, 2020
It wasn’t a failure of fact checking. It was airing an opinion they were sympathetic to and then having second thoughts after blowback – this is a symptom of disconnection from mainstream thought.
— Will Nye (@willfnye) September 3, 2020
What's the obsession with fact checking? The problem wasn't that the author made incorrect statements, but that she's morally monstrous.
— insipidwanker (@insipidwanker) September 3, 2020
Could it be that even NPR’s audience isn’t so far left it could get on board with agreeing looting can be a good thing?
‘This is absolutely bats**t’: Quotes from NPR interview with author of ‘In Defense of Looting’ send heads crashing to desks https://t.co/nEutdaYrIm
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) August 29, 2020