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NPR Editor Says Pro-Looting Author ‘Was Allowed To Spread False Information’

NPR Editor Says Pro-Looting Author ‘Was Allowed To Spread False Information’
KENOSHA, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 28: People walk past a building that was reduced to rubble after being burned during recent rioting following the shooting of Jacob Blake on August 28, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake remains in the hospital after being shot seven times in the back in front of his three children by a police officer.NPR Public Editor Kelly McBride told readers in a newsletter on Thursday that an interview with a left-wing author who defended looting last week contained false information and ultimately didn’t “serve” the NPR community.
Responding to a complaint from a reader, McBride, who was not the editor for the story, noted that some of author Vicky Osterweil’s claims in the print interview were contradicted by reporting from NPR, and furthermore, “the author’s characterization of the Civil Rights Movement is a distortion and oversimplification.”As The Daily Wire previously reported, the NPR “Code Switch” section published an interview with a left-wing author who defended looting, suggested small business owners were not part of the community, and argued looting businesses is ultimately about attacking “modes of oppression,” in addition to making other left-wing assertions.
According to McBride, “[t]he Code Switch team has a strong track record of presenting rigorous academic ideas that explain race, explore racial disparities and float interesting observations about social divisions. So a book that explains looting, even defends it, seems like appropriate material. But in the interview, the author made several statements in support of her hypothesis that could be easily fact-checked.”
Steve Drummond, the editor of “Code Switch,” told McBride that while the piece went through fact-checking, “we should have done more,” according to a copy of the newsletter posted by Mediaite.
McBride continued: “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.”
The new version of the story, updated on Sept 1, warns that the original introduction to the interview lacked sufficient context for readers to “fully assess some of the controversial opinions discussed.”
The following sentences in the intro have been changed [emphasis added]: 
  • Original version: “In the past months of demonstrations for Black lives, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about looting.”
  • Current version: “In the past months of demonstrations for Black lives, there has been a lot of condemnation of looting.”
  • Original version: “…police officers, government officials and pundits alike have bemoaned the property damage and demanded an end to the riots.”
  • Current version: “…police officers, government officials and pundits alike have denounced the property damage and demanded an end to the riots.”
The author’s credentials were previously omitted from the three-paragraph introduction to the print interview. The current version reads: “Osterweil is a self-described writer, editor and agitator who has been writing about and participating in protests for years.”
The following sentences in the intro were also changed [emphasis added]:
  • Original version: “When she finished it, back in April, she wrote (rather presciently) that ‘a new energy of resistance is building across the country.’ Now, as protests and riots continue to grip cities, she argues that looting is a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society.”
  • Current version: “When she finished it, back in April, she wrote that “a new energy of resistance is building across the country.” Now, as protests and riots continue to grip cities, she stakes out a provocative position: that looting is a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society.”
  • Original version: “The rioters who smash windows and take items from stores, she says, 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.”
  • Current version: “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.”
  • Original version: “I spoke with Osterweil about this summer’s riots, the common narratives surrounding looting, and why ‘nonviolence’ can be a misleading term. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.”
  • Current version: “I spoke with Osterweil, and our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.”
The interview title has also been changed from “One Author’s Argument ‘In Defense Of Looting,’” to “One Author’s Controversial View: ‘In Defense Of Looting.’”

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