‘Sponsor credits that run on NPR are required to be value neutral to comply with FCC requirements and to avoid suggesting bias in NPR’s journalism…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) National Public Radio refused to sell advertisements that contained conservative and moderate viewpoints to filmmaker John Sullivan.
Sullivan is the executive director of Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.
Sullivan requested an ad from NPR that said, “Support for this NPR program comes from the film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. The film is the true story of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. A story the mainstream media tried to cover up because it reveals the truth about abortion.”
Gosnell was convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter for severing the spines of infants born alive during botched attempts to kill them.
An NPR representative responded to the proposal and required Sullivan to change key words in it.
“The word ‘abortionist’ will also need to be changed to the neutral word ‘doctor,’” the NPR employee said.
Sullivan offered to change the term to “abortion doctor,” a descriptive term he said he thought was morally neutral.
But the NPR representative told him he could change the phrase to “Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell” or withdraw the ad.
The filmmakers withdrew.
“Our movie isn’t about a podiatrist or a cardiologist or a proctologist,” producer Phelim McAleer said. “It’s specifically about a doctor who performs abortions.”
NPR’s Senior Director of Media Relations Isabel Lara told The Daily Beast that “Sponsor credits that run on NPR are required to be value neutral to comply with FCC requirements and to avoid suggesting bias in NPR’s journalism.”
But NPR didn’t use a consistent standard to determine “value neutral” language, as they have run stories with the term “abortion doctor” multiple times.
A previous NPR story about Gosnell even called him a “convicted Philadelphia abortion doctor.”
In fact, a simple search of NPR’s website reveals frequent uses of the terms “abortionist” and “abortion doctor” not only in their news coverage of public figures like Gosnell, but in multiple book reviews that painted the abortionists as either sympathetic characters or even victims.
This leftist bias prompted Gosnell producer Ann McElhinney to question NPR’s self-professed neutrality.
“NPR receives taxpayer funds,” said McElhinney. “They have a duty to push aside their own prejudices and opinions and apply fair and consistent standards and allow paid advertising even if the ads are promoting something they would rather remain hidden from their listeners.”
Sullivan was willing to pay upward of $100,000 for the slot on Fresh Air, which NPR was willing to turn down over a supposedly right-wing term.
“Perhaps Congress should look into the matter,” she said. “If they’re so well-funded that they’re turning away advertisers like us, maybe they don’t need government subsidies anymore.”