Last month NPR CEO Gary Knell left to take a job at National Geographic, making him the latest in a string of CEOs who left after a short stint running the public radio outlet. On September 13, NPR named a new acting president and CEO: board member Paul G. Haaga.
The NPR press release (9/13/13) states that Haaga’s “accomplished career” included a stint as “chairman of the Investment Company Institute”–the powerful lobbying group of the mutual fund industry. As the Los Angeles Times (11/29/03) once reported, “Mutual funds have been mostly shielded from the reforms forced on the financial world–thanks in large part to the efforts of the Investment Company Institute.”
NPR also adds that Haaga has ties to right-wing think tanks–he is “a member of the National Council of the American Enterprise Institute” and he sits on “the Board of Overseers of Hoover Institution at Stanford University.”
Haaga is also a fairly regular contributor to Republican politicians. According to OpenSecrets.org, this year he made a $32,400 donation to the Republican National Committee; in the previous two years, he made contributions of around $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He’s also given four-figure checks to a large number of mostly Republican candidates, including Rep. Paul Ryan, George Allen and Mitch McConnell.
So the new boss–for now–at NPR is a former financial industry lobbyist who is a regular donor to Republican politicians, with ties to two prominent conservative think tanks. When NPR finds a new boss, he’ll continue to be a member of NPR‘s board.
According to right-wing mythology, NPR is a decidedly left-wing media outlet, living off government subsidies and pushing a liberal agenda. That’s not at all true when it comes to what’s on the air–or who’s on the board.