CV NEWS FEED // Conservative scholar Christopher Rufo says he has uncovered alleged evidence which purports that new National Public Radio (NPR) CEO Katherine Maher had connections to radical revolutionaries in the Middle East.

Rufo’s report in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal has received reactions from a presidential candidate and a member of Congress, among others. 

The report’s alleged revelations have sparked rumors among observers that Maher might have been working with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“Katherine Maher helped advance Color Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, arguing that regime-change operatives could ‘govern a country’ by capturing radio stations,” Rufo wrote in an X post announcing his report Wednesday.

“Now [Maher] has taken over NPR, bringing the Color Revolution home,” he emphasized.

“The Color Revolution is restless,” Rufo wrote in the beginning of his report. “Beginning in the former Soviet republics in the early 2000s, it moved along the coast of North Africa with the so-called Arab Spring in the 2010s, and, into the current decade, has spread further.”

The scholar explained that the “ostensible purpose of Color Revolutions … is to replace authoritarian regimes with Western liberal democracies.” He added that oftentimes “American and European intelligence services” – such as the CIA – are involved in these efforts.

“The West’s favored methods of supporting Color Revolutions include fomenting dissent, organizing activists through social media, promoting student movements, and unleashing domestic unrest on the streets,” Rufo elaborated.

He then described that “Maher was involved in the wave of Color Revolutions that took place in North Africa in the 2010s, and she supported the post-George Floyd upheavals in the United States in the 2020s.” She later ran the parent organization of Wikipedia before being selected as NPR’s CEO last month.

As Rufo noted, almost immediately after Maher assumed control of the taxpayer-funded radio network, its longtime senior editor announced his resignation.

CatholicVote reported last week that “Uri Berliner had worked for NPR for 25 years as a committed editor and journalist. On April 9, Berliner wrote an op-ed in The Free Press expressing his concerns about the company replacing reporting the truth with pushing a biased narrative.”

Just a couple days later NPR “attempted to punish Berliner by issuing him a five-day suspension from work without pay,” CatholicVote noted. “Before the suspension concluded, Berliner announced that he was resigning from his position at NPR.”


Again from Rufo’s report:

Following [Berliner’s] accusations, I did extensive reporting demonstrating that Maher has a troubling history of arguing against the notion of objective truth and supporting censorship in the name of democracy.

Now I have gathered additional facts that raise new questions about Maher’s role as a regime-change agent, both foreign and domestic. She has brought the Color Revolution home to America.

Rufo pointed out that Maher earned “a degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University and had studied in Cairo and Damascus.”

“During the volatile Arab Spring period, under a constantly rotating series of NGO affiliations, Maher went to multiple countries [including Tunisia, Syria, and Libya] that were undergoing U.S.-backed regime change,” he went on to explain:

During much of 2011, Maher worked for the National Democratic Institute [NDI], a government-funded NGO with deep connections to U.S. intelligence and the Democratic Party’s foreign policy machine. The organization was “set up to do independently what CIA had done covertly worldwide,” says national security analyst J. Michael Waller

“The Internet, Maher learned, was a key asset on the new battlefield,” Rufo continued. “The primary lesson of the Arab Spring was that Western technology—social media, encrypted messaging, mobile connectivity—had become a powerful tool of regime change.”

“Twitter, in particular, was an asset for dissidents in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere,” he noted.

“There is no way to discern whether Maher was an agent, asset, or otherwise connected with the CIA,” Rufo wrote. “But her official status … is irrelevant. In practice, Maher was undoubtedly advancing the agenda of the national security apparatus and working to advance the agenda of the Color Revolution.”

“Multiple sources in the Middle East and North Africa have told me they believe NPR boss [Maher] was affiliated with US intelligence,” Rufo wrote on X.

In his report, Rufo further pointed out that while Maher was at the helm of the Wikimedia Foundation (the nonprofit organization that hosts Wikipedia), she “advanced a policy of censorship under the pretense of fighting ‘disinformation.’”

“On the surface, this appears to be a contradiction,” he indicated. “Maher backed dissent abroad but suppressed it at home.” 

“She not only censored content at Wikipedia but also supported deplatforming then-President Donald Trump, who opposed the domestic revolution following the death of George Floyd,” Rufo described.

He continued:

“Must be satisfying to deplatform fascists,” Maher wrote on Twitter, after Trump was effectively removed from social media. “Even more satisfying? Not platforming them in the first place.”

This is not hypocrisy; it is the politics of friend and enemy. 

“For Maher, ‘democracy’ means the advancement of left-wing race and gender ideology all over the world,” explained Rufo. “This requires elevating progressive dissidents overseas, while suppressing conservative dissidents at home.”

“For partisans of Color Revolution, dissent and censorship are not in contradiction—they are two sides of the same coin,” he stressed.

Following the publication of Rufo’s report on Maher, Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN, took to X voicing his support for defunding NPR.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. also responded to Rufo’s report on X.

“All the controversy about Katherine Maher’s ‘woke’ posts misses a serious issue — her involvement in CIA-sponsored color revolutions abroad,” he wrote, citing Rufo’s exposé.

“I don’t know if [Maher] is actual CIA, or just ideologically aligned,” Kennedy added. “What is clear though is that she will assiduously advance establishment narratives.”

Maher responded to the many accusations levied against her in an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published Wednesday – the same day as Rufo’s report.

“There are many professions in which you set aside your own personal perspectives in order to lead in public service, and that is exactly how I have always led organizations and will continue to lead NPR,” Maher claimed.

She also told the WSJ that she has a “robust belief in the First Amendment,” and accused her many critics who argue otherwise of “a very bad faith distortion of a nuanced perspective on a policy landscape issue.”

The WSJ piece also noted that in “2018, [Maher] called former President Donald Trump a racist in a post that has since been deleted, and a couple of years later she shared a photo of herself in a ‘President Biden’ campaign hat.”

NPR has been funded by taxpayers since its creation in 1970. Its origin can be traced back to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law three years earlier.

In a 2023 article in The Hill, author and scholar Howard Husock wrote, “NPR may receive little direct federal funding, but a good deal of its budget comprises federal funds that flow to it indirectly by federal law.”

Citing a report from The New York Times, Rufo wrote on X Wednesday that “NPR’s audience has declined by nearly one-third since 2020.”

Rufo further explained NPR’s decline in a subsequent X reply to political commentator Mike Cernovich.

“NPR has become totally reliant on a declining faction of white, blue-city tote bag people,” he wrote. “And the internal political dynamics—rampant [diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)], Longhouse HR—do not permit a reset.”

“If Republicans can strip [NPR’s] budget next year, it spins into chaos,” Rufo pointed out. “That’s the goal.”

Last December, Rufo notably played a prominent role in exposing the plagiarism allegations against former Harvard President Claudine Gay – which eventually led to her resignation less than one month later.

Readers can find Rufo’s full report in the City Journal here.