SPECIAL REPORT FROM
THE ELECTRONIC INTIFADA
NPR's Linda Gradstein Takes Cash Payments from Pro-Israeli Groups
By Ali Abunimah and Nigel Parry
The Electronic Intifada -- electronicIntifada.net
February 19, 2002
ST. PAUL, MN & CHICAGO, IL--National Public Radio's Israel
correspondent Linda Gradstein has received cash honoraria from
pro-Israeli organizations in what appears to be a clear violation of
NPR policy, an Electronic Intifada investigation has revealed.
Gradstein has not only accepted such honoraria in the past, but
continues to do so in spite of being instructed not to by NPR
Indeed, this evening, February 19, Gradstein is scheduled to give a
lecture hosted by several pro-Israel organizations at the University
of Minnesota in Minneapolis for which she is receiving yet another
Gradstein has long been criticized for her consistent injection of
pro-Israeli bias into NPR's reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. (see electronicIntifada.net and
www.abunimah.org and search "gradstein" for numerous
Following the revelation that some journalists had received payments
in the form of "speakers fees" from bankrupt energy giant Enron, NPR
correspondent Juan Williams informed listeners of the network's
Morning Edition program on February 8, that "At NPR, reporters are
not allowed to give speeches to groups they report on to avoid any
appearance of conflict of interest."
Yet Gradstein has long been a favorite on the pro-Israeli lecture
circuit, especially with Hillel, a nationwide organization which in
close cooperation with AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs
Committee) and the Israeli government, works to promote a strongly
pro-Israeli agenda on college campuses. In fact, at least in one
case, Hillel openly acknowledges that it sees Linda Gradstein as a
propagandist for Israel. A page at the Hillel website, providing a
summary and evaluation of an April 2001 lecture Gradstein gave at
George Washington University, states that inviting her to the campus
was specifically for the purpose of "educating a broad cross-section
of the campus about Israel from a Jewish perspective" and that this
would be "a strong tool in the fight against the Palestinian
propaganda" on the campus.
Gradstein was paid $2,500 for this appearance, according to the
Hillel evaluation, $2,000 of which was raised from Hamagshimim, a
group that describes itself as "a dynamic pro-Israel/Zionist
movement for young adults." (see
Our investigations also revealed that Gradstein received a $1,000
honorarium from the Amy Adina Schulman Fund, a foundation whose
stated funding criteria include promoting "Zionist youth movement"
activities, for a lecture she gave in Princeton in April 2001. These
are only two examples of the dozens of appearances Gradstein has
made since 1993 for many of which she has received cash honoraria
and in-kind benefits from pro-Israeli lobby groups.
On February 8, The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah sent an email
to NPR Vice President for News and Information, Bruce Drake and NPR
Ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin asking whether these past instances and
the lecture Gradstein is scheduled to give tonight, February 19, at
the University of Minnesota, sponsored by Hillel and Friends of
Israel, constitute violations of NPR's conflict of interest policy.
Drake replied in a February 12 email that "I have advised Ms.
Gradstein of the policy stated on our air the other day, and going
forward, told her that I expected her to honor it." We interpreted
this statement as not only an acknowledgment that Gradstein had been
violating NPR's policy, but an assurance that she would no longer be
permitted to do so.
In an attempt to clarify matters further, Abunimah wrote to Drake
again on February 14 to ask specifically whether Gradstein's
appearance at the University of Minnesota would violate the policy,
given that the event was scheduled to occur after NPR's on-air
restatement of its general policy, and Drake's specific assurance
that Gradstein would stop accepting money from pro-Israeli groups.
On February 18, Drake replied: "Ms. Gradstein has been told clearly
what NPR's policies are on this matter and that, in the future, she
is to adhere strictly to it."
Yet, investigations by the Electronic Intifada determined that
Gradstein plans to go ahead with tonight's lecture and that the
University of Minnesota Hillel chapter will pay Gradstein a cash
honorarium and cover part of her travel expenses. We also learned
that Gradstein is currently on a multi-city tour of the Midwestern
United States in which she is scheduled to speak to other
pro-Israeli lobby groups from which she will also receive payments.
The startling picture that emerges is that Gradstein has been
violating NPR's conflict of interest policy for years, and continues
to do so even after she has been advised in clear terms not to, and
we have been assured that she would not.
We affirm that Gradstein has a First Amendment right to speak to any
groups she chooses. But for a reporter who is assigned to cover the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict to accept thousands of dollars in cash
and expenses from groups whose primary or sole objective is to
promote a pro-Israeli political agenda is a gross violation of basic
journalistic ethics as well as NPR's own policy.
We can conclude that for some reason or other, Gradstein is
effectively exempt from NPR's own regulations. These revelations
only broaden existing concerns about the integrity of NPR's Middle
East reporting and the honesty of Linda Gradstein.
NPR needs to understand that Gradstein's flouting of its policy,
combined with her usually biased, misleading reporting, seriously
and consistently undermine NPR's credibility. There are minimal
standards for competent reporting and journalistic ethics, but the
sad truth is that Linda Gradstein rarely meets either standard.
Anyone who wishes to contact NPR and express their views on this
matter should immediately write to:
National Public Radio
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