Conservatives ripped into NPR on Friday after the liberal outlet referred to Japan’s former leader Shinzo Abe as a “divisive arch-conservative” soon after he was assassinated by a madman with a homemade gun.
NPR offered up the description of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in a tweet linking to its coverage of his very public slaying.
The outlet ended up deleting the “divisive arch-conservative” tweet and replaced it with one calling the 67-year-old an “ultranationalist.”
Outraged conservatives immediately unleashed on NPR’s characterization of Abe, with some drawing comparisons to how the outlet controversially referred to Cuban President Fidel Castro as a “prominent international figure” when he died.
Former North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker was among those to point out NPR’s past controversial descriptions of former leaders, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Palestine’s assassinated President Yasser Arafat.
“When Fidel Castro died, NPR called him a “prominent international figure.” On Yasser Arafat’s death “a freedom fighter.” On Prime Minister’s Abu’s assassination, NPR’s statement: “a divisive arch-conservative and an ultranationalist.” Brought to you by your US tax dollars,” Walker tweeted.
David Shafer, Georgia’s GOP chairman wrote, “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.”
“NPR: He had it coming,” tweeted Newsbusters editor Tim Graham.
Others called for the tax-payer-funded outlet to be defunded.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the phrases were included in NPR’s article, or just the tweets.
The Associated Press had also labeled Abe as a “divisive arch-conservative” in several photos published after his assassination. The phrase wasn’t visible in the AP’s article copy Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t immediately clear if it had been edited out.
Abe had just started delivering a speech in the western region of Nara when the alleged gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, opened fire on him with a homemade shotgun.
The 67-year-old was pronounced dead in hospital around five and a half hours later after receiving more than 100 units of blood in transfusions.
“I am simply speechless over the news of Abe’s death,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Abe’s protege, said.
“This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections — the very foundation of our democracy — and is absolutely unforgivable.”