Adam Carolla Reveals Why NPR Once Refused to Air an Interview He Did About His Comedy Book

NPR is in the headlines this week after its senior business editor came forward with concerns about the publicly funded radio station’s bias in a revealing piece for The Free Press.

Uri Berliner – an award-winning, 25-year veteran of NPR – wrote that while the outlet has always had a “liberal bent,” an “open-minded, curious culture” used to prevail in its coverage. Not anymore. Berliner believes the NPR of today presents a “distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population,” and Adam Carolla said he experienced that firsthand.

On Friday’s show, Carolla joined Megyn to discuss the rise of the biased media and revealed that NPR once refused to air an interview he recorded with one of its journalists.

NPR Moves Left

In his op-ed titled “I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust,” Berliner broke down the shifting demographics of NPR both inside and outside the newsroom.

In 2011, “NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left,” he wrote, but “still bore a resemblance to America at large” with 26 percent describing themselves as conservative, 23 percent as moderate, and 37 percent as liberal. It was an entirely different picture by 2023, however, with just 11 percent of listeners identifying as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent very or somewhat liberal. 

As Berliner observed, “we weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals.” Additionally, he noted that “an open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America.”

Perhaps those figures are due to what happened inside the walls of NPR. Berliner outlined the DEI initiatives that have dominated the outlet, writing that “race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace.” 

He also looked at the voter registration logs. “Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity… I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans,” Berliner wrote. “None.” When he presented those findings at an all-hands meeting in 2021, he said he was met with messages of the “‘oh wow, that’s weird’ variety, as if the lopsided tally was a random anomaly rather than a critical failure of our diversity North Star.”

Carolla Cut by NPR

None of this is particularly surprising to people who have observed NPR’s coverage in recent years, but Carolla said Berliner’s piece hit even closer to home. “I experienced this firsthand… about 10 years ago,” Carolla said. “One of my books came out… I was doing a media tour, and I went down to NPR. I think it was for The Brian Lehrer Show.”

As he recalled, he sat for a “long interview” that was audio-only and it got off to a rocky start. “At the beginning of the interview, he tried to bust me because he played a snippet of my podcast where there was a stereotypical Asian voice being used and he thought it was me,” Carolla explained. “He tried a ‘gotcha moment’ at the beginning of the interview.”

While Carolla said the idea of a ‘gotcha’ out of the gate was obnoxious to begin with given that he was there to do an interview about his book, the moment was made worse by the fact that NPR had its facts wrong. “I had to inform him that that voice was Jo Koy, who is Asian. It was not me who was doing that voice,” Carolla recounted. “And I said, ‘I appreciate what you’re trying to do… but you didn’t catch me because you didn’t do your research well enough. I was interviewing an Asian man, who is a comedian, who did an Asian voice.'”

Rather than own up to the error, NPR went another direction. “They didn’t air the interview,” Carolla said. “They buried it.” After following up several times on the status and getting the runaround, Carolla said he was given an offer. “They said you can come back to New York and redo it if you want,” he recalled.

Needless to say, Carolla didn’t take them up on it. “NPR and Brian Lehrer, when you look these guys up, they’re like respected journalists; the truth is the beacon of light,” he said. “[Yet] you idiots got busted trying to bust me during an interview… about my comedy… and then you buried the tape and never aired it.”

Blame Game

Carolla believes his experience tells you what you need to know about NPR. “That’s the kind of journalism and those are the kinds of cowards and hypocrites you get over there at NPR,” he said. “I was aware of this many years ago.”

The leadership at NPR has been in damage control mode since Berliner’s article was published and many executives are crying wolf. “They’re blaming [Berliner] saying, ‘Oh, the next time one of our people calls up a Republican congressman or something and tries to get an answer from them, they may well say I read these stories, you guys aren’t fair, so I’m not going to talk to you,'” Megyn noted.

But Megyn was not sympathetic to their concerns. “No,” she concluded, “you have yourself to blame for this.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Carolla by tuning in to episode 765 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.