NPR Clarifies: We Will Still Interview Conservatives, Live

NPR (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

National Public Radio clarified Monday evening that it will continue to conduct live interviews of conservative guests, and that the suggestion of the NPR Ombudsman that such interviews be pre-taped for “contextualizing” was her own opinion.

NPR’s public editor / ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen, had made the suggestion against future live interviews following an interview last week by Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep with Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large and In-house Counsel Joel Pollak. Pollak defended Breitbart and Executive Chairman Steve Bannon — now on leave as incoming Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for President-elect Donald J. Trump — against false charges of antisemitism and “white nationalism.”

Michael Oreskes, NPR’s Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director, issued the following statement on Monday evening (in full):

NPR Has Not Changed Its Policy on Live Interviews

There have been some questions and misunderstandings about when NPR News conducts interviews live and when we tape them.

The NPR Ombudsman, who is independent of the newsroom, published a column recently that offered her views on interviews NPR aired last week. In the course of her piece she expressed her opinion that certain interviews should not be done live.

The Ombudsman does not set the policies of NPR News. Her role is to hear the views of the public and offer her judgements on those views. As always we appreciate her suggestions and take them seriously.

Several subsequent commentators said that NPR would not be conducting live interviews with conservatives. That is incorrect.

Let me say in no uncertain terms, we would never apply a political litmus test to whether an interview is conducted live. Indeed, our preference is to interview newsmakers live.

Whether an interview is done live or taped is a decision made by show producers based on the needs and logistics of their show and the availability of their guests. The most common reason to tape a news interview is simply that the guest is not available at the scheduled time. For example, Morning Edition is live from 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. Eastern.

Our goal is to present the widest possible range of views to our audiences.

I hope this clarifies how these decisions are made and sets the record straight.

Correction: This article earlier mis-identified the source of the press statement as Isabel Lara, Senior Director of Media Relations for NPR.


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