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Your Tax Dollars at Work: NPR Targets Ben Shapiro, The Daily Wire

(Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, Pool)

On Monday, National Public Radio (NPR) released a hit piece on Ben Shapiro and The Daily Wire. NPR’s Miles Parks reported on The Daily Wire’s effective Facebook strategy, suggesting that Shapiro was edging out local news outlets and more traditional news outlets by weaponizing “outrage.”

Interestingly, Parks presented a very nuanced perspective on The Daily Wire. While he clearly attacked the news outlet, he did not explicitly accuse The Daily Wire or Shapiro of spreading misinformation. Instead, he quoted Judd Legum in claiming that Shapiro takes “red meat culture war issues” and gives them “an intellectual sheen.”

Parks began his article by noting (and subtly lamenting) The Daily Wire’s impressive track record on Facebook. “An NPR analysis of social media data found that over the past year, stories published by the site Shapiro founded, The Daily Wire, received more likes, shares and comments on Facebook than any other news publisher by a wide margin.”

“Even legacy news organizations that have broken major stories or produced groundbreaking investigative work don’t come anywhere close,” he noted.

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Parks repeatedly suggested that The Daily Wire’s content is inferior because the outlet often “repackages journalism from traditional news organizations with a conservative slant.” Yet Parks also noted that a recent Pew Research Center study found that roughly 70% of Republicans said news organizations don’t care about the people they report on, and 56% said they hurt democracy.

Nowhere does the NPR reporter attempt to explain this opinion or offer a reason as to why so many Americans consider the work of The Daily Wire and other conservative news outlets (like PJ Media) so valuable. Perhaps if he had researched the question, he would have realized that the legacy media’s track record — from the Trump-Russia canard to the demonization of Nick Sandmann to the coordinated attack on The New York Post‘s Hunter Biden bombshells to the CNN death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic to the contrast between media coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests that devolved into destructive and deadly riots and the Capitol protest that devolved into a destructive and deadly riot — gives ample reason for distrust.

In fact, NPR’s record on Hunter Biden is particularly shameful. NPR described the Hunter Biden bombshells as “stories that are not really stories.”

NPR also suggested that The Daily Wire is not credible because it “repackages” news stories from other outlets. Yet The Daily Wire does some exclusive reporting — just as PJ Media does — and “traditional news outlets” do a lot more repackaging of previously reported news stories than Parks’ article suggests. While original reporting should be the gold standard of journalism, most stories break elsewhere, and conservative audiences are interested in the conservative take on a story, even if it did not break on PJ Media or on The Daily Wire.

The NPR story did highlight one aspect of the current media environment that journalists in general lament — the demise of local news sources. Parks quoted Monica Stephens, a social media expert at the University of Buffalo, who noted that people have shifted “from getting information based on where they live to getting information tailored to their ideology.”

“You’re more likely to read the same news as somebody who lives a thousand miles away from you, but holds the same perspective, than share news and share information with your next-door neighbor,” Stephens told NPR. Parks concluded: “In practice, that means a society with more division and conflict.” He cited the battles over Marxist critical race theory (CRT) as an example.

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Of course, people have legitimate concerns about CRT, but Parks and Stephens are right to lament the demise of local news outlets. The Daily Wire and other conservative sites have indeed benefited from this, but so have The New York Times and The Washington Post. People who do not live in New York City or Washington, D.C., turn to these outlets, just as people from all over the country turn to The Daily Wire and PJ Media. The sad truth is that audiences — conservative, liberal, or moderate — are not as interested in just local news, especially when their local news outlets have a partisan slant different from their own perspective.

The NPR story took complex problems about news in America today and presented The Daily Wire as some kind of villain in this space. However, to Parks’ credit, he did not make baseless claims about The Daily Wire. Instead, he turned to left-wing sources to condemn it.

“The articles The Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods (with some exceptions), and the site said it is committed to ‘truthful, accurate and ethical reporting,'” Parks noted. “But as [College of William & Mary researcher Jamie] Settle explains, by only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda (such as negative reports about socialist countries and polarizing ones about race and sexuality issues) and only including certain facts, readers still come away from The Daily Wire’s content with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong and cancel culture is among the nation’s greatest threats.”

Of course, Parks did not note the similar way that many legacy media outlets twist the facts on all sorts of issues. How often has The Washington Post published stories attacking President Joe Biden’s radical positions on transgender identity or abortion or climate alarmism, for example? Biased news is not a uniquely conservative phenomenon, and taxpayers do not all support attacks on conservative media.

Parks admitted that Shapiro presents a nuanced perspective. He acknowledged Shapiro’s criticism of the Capitol riot, but then attempted to deny the truth of the Black Lives Matter riots and attacked Shapiro’s perspective on transgenderism.

“Last week, the Capitol was breached by a group of fringe Trump supporters who had bought into a series of lies,” Shapiro wrote shortly after the violence on Jan. 6.

But in the same column, he quickly turned his attention back to Democrats and their support of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests last summer, which many conservatives have falsely sought to paint broadly as riots. He’s been widely condemned for anti-LGBT comments.

“I’m not going to go along with the general societal willingness to rewrite basic facets of human nature and human biology and, frankly, mammalian biology in order to suggest that a delusion is true,” Shapiro said at a 2019 event at Stanford University.

Yet the legacy media’s blindness to the destruction of Black Lives Matter riots and its wholesale adoption of the biologically false transgender narrative involve an erasure of the truth that alienates millions of Americans.

Contrary to Parks’ insinuations, legacy media outlets are not less biased or inherently more credible than conservative media alternatives. In fact, this smug attitude is one of the many things that drives Americans away from the legacy media and toward conservative media outlets.

The Daily Wire does not engage in the kinds of false pretensions to perfect journalism that The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and NPR do. Millions of Americans find that lack of pretension refreshing. Yes, The Daily Wire and PJ Media and Townhall and all sorts of conservative media sites acknowledge that they present news from a conservative perspective. But the legacy media outlets are often just as biased — while they falsely claim to be not just fair but “objective.”

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Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think Americans’ tax dollars should go to support any partisan outlet, especially not NPR. While National Public Radio does some good reporting, its bias alienates millions of the Americans who are forced to pay for it through their tax dollars. Say what you will about The Daily Wire or PJ Media, but we don’t force taxpayers to foot the bill for our content.

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