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'Pathetic reporting': 'Defund NPR' trends after conservatives blast National Public Radio for 'shameful smear' of assassinated Shinzo Abe

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There was a flood of calls to "defund NPR" in Twitter reactions to a now-deleted tweet from National Public Radio that demeaned former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the day that he was assassinated.

In the wake of the assassination of Abe, NPR smeared the close ally of the United States as a "divisive arch-conservative."

On Friday morning, the official Twitter account for NPR tweeted, "Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a divisive arch-conservative and one of his nation’s most powerful and influential figures, has died after being shot during a campaign speech Friday, in western Japan, hospital officials said."

There was a major backlash to the tweet – which caused NPR to delete the post.

However, NPR followed the controversial tweet with another post on Twitter that painted the assassinated former prime minister as an "ultranationalist."

"Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister and ultranationalist, was killed at a campaign rally on Friday. Police tackled and arrested the suspected gunman at the scene of an attack that shocked many in Japan.”

There was a barrage of Twitter reactions calling to defund NPR – which is partially funded by U.S. taxpayers. "Defund NPR" was a trending Twitter topic on Friday.

Conservative advocacy organization ForAmerica: "This is disgusting. Defund NPR."

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas): "It's ENRAGING that taxpayer funded @npr would say such TERRIBLE things about Shinzo Abe. He was one of America’s STRONGEST defenders, so it’s not surprising that liberal NPR would post this. NPR is government-funded anti-American propaganda. Time to end this garbage & DEFUND NPR!"

Former president of Radio Free Asia Steve Yates: "Absolutely shameful smear of a positively transformational leader and one of America's best friends and allies. Such a long-tenured PM certainly united more than he divided. He was a reformer and defender of democratic Japan, and of the free world."

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind: "Shinzo Abe won his elections by large margins. But NPR calls him an 'ultranationalist' and divisive! That’s some pathetic reporting, even for NPR."

Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party David Shafer: "NPR deleted its first tweet calling Shinzo Abe a 'divisive arch conservative' and then posted this tweet calling him an 'ultranationalist.' As if he were Tojo or Itagaki and not the four-time elected leader of a modern democracy. May he rest in peace."

Journalist Erielle Davidson: "NPR referring to Japan’s most popular PM, who won his elections by large margins, as 'divisive' indicates the inability of media outlets to genuinely report any longer. Everything is a mural for their projection. So pathetic and so sad."

Conservative commentator Steve Cortes: "We taxpayers fund this propaganda. Time to defund NPR & PBS."

AI expert Dr. Eli David said in a now-deleted tweet: "What a disgusting eulogy by NPR. Abe was the greatest postwar prime minister of Japan."

Editor Brandon Morse: "Time to defund @NPR. Tired of taxpayer dollars going to a communist propaganda playground."

Journalist Hank Campbell: "To the far left the middle always looks like the far right so this @NPR tweet is on brand. But should all Americans be paying taxes so NPR can make everything about their hatred? Including the assassination of Japan's longest-serving prime minister?"

National security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Omri Ceren: "The people who write words at America's elite media institutions can't hear how abnormal and inappropriate they sound, because everyone they know talks like they do."

Communications professional Natalie Johnson pointed out that NPR eulogized Fidel Castro with a far more glowing account than the one written for Abe.

"One of the most prominent international figures in the last half of the 20th century, Castro inspired both passionate love and hate. Many who later lost faith in him can remember how they once admired the man who needed just a dozen men to launch the Cuban Revolution," NPR complimented Castro following his death in November 2016.

NPR also had a much more adulatory description of Qasem Soleimani – commander of the Quds Force, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that the Pentagon has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

"Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated Friday in Baghdad in a U.S. airstrike, was at once both the shadowy commander of covert Iranian forces and a revered celebrity in an anti-American alliance that crosses sectarian lines across the Middle East," NPR wrote in January 2020.

"Known for his quiet demeanor and short stature, Soleimani exuded charisma and an intelligence that even his enemies came to respect," the left-leaning outlet gushed of the Iranian military leader "responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” according to the Pentagon.

It wasn't only NPR to disparage Abe on the day he was murdered.

The Associated Press claimed that Abe left a "divided legacy."

The AP previously praised socialist leaders after their deaths. The AP described Hugo Chavez as a "fiery Venezuelan leader" and said Fidel Castro "defied the US for 50 years."

CBS Mornings called Abe a "polarizing figure," a "right-wing nationalist," and "conservative" whose "political opinions were controversial."

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