NPR Adds Clarity To Discredited Disability Report

Under fire for a sloppy report that leaned on anecdotal evidence to make sweeping generalizations about federal disability benefits, NPR has edited portions of that report even as Ira Glass publicly defends the initial reporting.

On March 22, Media Matters highlighted several myths and errors in a report from NPR's Planet Money about Supplemental Security Insurance, a federal disability program for children. The report drew further criticism, and more than 100 organizations that advocate for and support people with disabilities have signed a letter criticizing the piece, saying it “paints a misleading and inaccurate picture of the Social Security programs that serve as a vital lifeline for millions of Americans with severe disabilities.”

On March 26, This American Life host Ira Glass responded to Media Matters' criticism by claiming he stood by his program's work, saying “our report on disability programs was fact checked line by line by an outside fact checker, in addition to fact checking by the reporter and her editors” and that “We know of no factual errors. We stand by the story.”

But while Glass publicly claimed to stand behind the story, Wired Business senior writer Ryan Tate has noted that the online text version of the radio program has been altered since its original posting.

NPR has since said that the changes were made “for clarity after publication.”