< Letters


Friday, April 01, 2011

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And now for a few of the hundreds of missives you sent in response to our series exploring liberal bias on NPR. Those letters were unusually long, so we're offering what we hope is a fair representation of the range of views. Listener Jim McCabe noted that Ira Glass and I concluded after reviewing the available data that we just didn't see it, that is, bias. McCabe writes, quote, “Your news has a liberal slant and your commentary is overwhelmingly liberal, but you just don't see it. Of course not. To you it’s not bias. It’s just the truth.”

BOB GARFIELD: Angie Black March wrote that, quote, “I am shocked that the conservative listeners interviewed on the program equate a reporter’s follow-up question with the reporter’s own opinion. A neutral reporter can use this device as a devil’s advocate, usually voicing the same question that a listener or constituent would have, and giving the interviewee the chance to clarify their position and address these concerns while still on the air. As a listener, I view this as a favor to the interview subject, not as an attack.”

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Joshua Arthurs takes this idea a little further, writing, quote, “I very much appreciated OTM’s recent soul searching about NPR’s potential biases and objectivity. However, I believe that much of the discussion was based on a flawed understanding of what political bias entails. Assuming that a bias-free presentation means giving equal airtime to both sides of an issue, isn't journalism meant to strive for as accurate and rigorous a representation of reality as possible, rather than simply striving for middle-ground consensus? I listen to NPR because it strives for a details, well-researched and thoughtful engagement with the facts. If truthtelling angers one side or another, that doesn't mean that the truthteller is biased.”

BOB GARFIELD: On the other hand, K.L. Hodges writes, quote, “Yes, NPR is liberal. Own it. If National Public Radio shunned all federal money, I would finally join. The segment that is going on right now is so typical of NPR, picking a handful of conservatives and trying to curry their favor. What about the hundreds of thousands of listeners who are fine being liberal? Just own it, for God’s sake.” Thanks for listening. Send your messages to Onthemedia.org or Onthemedia@wnyc.org, and tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.