NPR’s editorial defender Nina Totenberg has history of liberal bias

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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After National Public Radio took huge hits stemming from conservative James O’Keefe’s sting video, the publicly-funded radio network’s legal correspondent, Nina Totenberg, took to defending NPR’s product.

“I can’t defend the executives, the top executives, and I can’t necessarily even defend the board, but I can defend the product,” Totenberg said on PBS’s Inside Washington. “There is a reason that we are the only news organization, other than Fox, with a growing audience. It is because of our product, which is straight-shooting, factual, and spends an enormous amount of money gathering news from all over the country and the world. Judge us by our product.”

A quick look back at some of the comments Totenberg has made in her reporting and in media appearances over the past few years might hint at a bit more than a liberal bias. On April 17, 2009, Totenberg questioned the Tea Party movement’s sustainability, calling it a “stunt.”

“Well, you know, I don’t know whether this really has any legs are not. You have to remember that at almost any given time any cockamamie proposition in America will have at least 25 percent of those polled supporting it,” Totenberg said. “It was a good stunt. Whether the stunt really is more than a stunt remains to be seen. Obviously there are people who don’t like paying taxes, among them, probably some people at this table and certainly a certain individual whom I share a bed with doesn’t like paying taxes at all.”

During the period leading up to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation, Totenberg touted President Barack Obama’s nomination, likening her to “Superman.” “In some ways, the descriptions of Elena Kagan as dean [at Harvard University] sound a little bit like the beginning of the old ‘Superman’ TV series,” Totenberg read on air, and followed it up by actually playing the Superman TV show audio intro: “Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands!”

Totenberg was also one of the many self-proclaimed objective journalists who commented on Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan’s Muslim faith – and how it was bad, somehow, that he was Muslim because of the supposed political implications.

“It really is tragic that he was a Muslim,” Totenberg said on Inside Washington in early November in 2009.  She was agreeing with Newsweek’s Evan Thomas’s comment that Hassan’s Muslim faith made him “cringe” because it “will get the right wing going.”

Totenberg also, according to Newsbusters, hired former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards’s daughter as a summer intern.

But, perhaps her most biased-filled moment was when she wished the late Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, would contract AIDS.

WATCH: National Public Radio’s legal correspondent, Nina Totenberg, wishes Sen. Jesse Helms — or his grandchildren — contract AIDS

If there were “retributive justice,” Reason Magazine reported Totenberg as saying in 1995, Helms would “get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren would get it.”

The Weekly Standard reported that Totenberg has referred to former President Bill Clinton as “the most gifted politician I’ve ever seen” and that first lady Michelle Obama gives people “warm and fuzzy” feelings.

Totenberg has partaken in “selective editing” of quotes of as well. When reporting on the President Obama’s nomination of Goodwin Liu to the 9th Circuit of Appeals, Totenberg quoted conservative legal scholar Curt Levey as saying, “Goodwin Liu is not your typical liberal. He’s very far out on the left wing, even in academia. So I think you could think of Liu as the Democratic Clarence Thomas.”

Levey’s organization, The Committee for Justice, sent out a statement shortly thereafter, though, condemning Totenberg’s selective quotation with his full remarks (the parts Totenberg selected for broadcast are bolded):

Everybody expected Obama to nominate liberals to the federal courts, and that’s what he’s done, but Goodwin Liu is not your typical liberal. He’s very far out on the left-wing, even of academia. He is an unabashed defender, really advocate, of judicial activism, and add on top of that, the fact that I think everyone knows that Obama would love to groom him for a spot on the Supreme Court. Obama would love to, you know, be able to say that he nominated the first Asian to the Supreme Court. As you know, it’s been almost forty years since somebody who was not a judge was appointed to the Supreme Court. So I think that you can think of Goodwin Liu as the Democratic Clarence Thomas. I think everyone knows that he’s being groomed to be on the Supreme Court, and you know, that scares people because he’s to the left of even Justice Ginsburg.

Through NPR publicist Anna Christopher, Totenberg declined The Daily Caller’s requests for comment on this story.