This American Life's Ira Glass drops by to issue a challenge to Brooke and Bob to investigate what he sees as the false charge of liberal bias in public radio and NPR.
Let's be clear. Third Way Corporate liberals represent 5% of the Democratic Party and they have cleverly kept their policy issues and goals under wraps for 20 years as they failed to educate the American people on the dynamic between liberals and labor after the Third Way reform that adopted Reagan fiscal policy. Liberals still refuse to educate on that issue as they still see pushing what is a completely Third Way corporate ballot for President in 2016. You represent only 5% of people in fiscal issues!
So, media at national, state, and local levels have been captured by these corporate views. In Baltimore, Ira's hometown, the public airwaves are so captured by Maryland's 1% that you can hear them plead to recruit and mentor like-minded Liberal journalists for future public media posts. The capture is complete in Maryland.
The good news is that all democratic constituents see this now. As we fight to regain a voice in existing media outlets, we are developing our own communications systems to augment information sharing.
The media situation is third world in the ability of those in charge openly entering bias into mainstream media outlets. This threatens democracy.
To Rick:You wrote: "NPR only reports injustices against gays, blacks, etc. and don't cover the horriffic things they do. I have been assulted by both of these groups, unprovoked."The "horrific things THEY do?" Really? All humans of all races, religions, ethnicity do "horrific" things. (Let's see, who committed the murders documented in Capote's "In Cold Blood?" If you've been attacked by gays, I'm sorry about that. Why did a group of gays suddenly attack you? Just walking down the street, la dee da, and a gay gang beat you up? This reminds me of the Monty Python skit showing a "Grannie Gang" terrorizing the neighborhood with their purses -- and that's not meant to equate gays with grannies or purses, but rather the improbability of this attack. Gays HAVE been mostly then victims of violence -- not the perpetrators. I've no doubt there are gay "thugs" but to claim that NPR doesn't do enough reporting on gay violence--well, good luck digging that up! There are thousands of stories (Matthew Shepherd being one of the more recent and repugnant) of gays being victimized by straights. I'd challenge anyone to find a tiny fraction of the reverse.My son and his white friends were attacked (totally unprovoked, except by being white) by a group of black kids at a local McDonald's when they were in high school. He's never gotten over this and I have to work with him regularly to realize that these kids were a bunch of thugs--probably in prison, maybe dead. But that is no reason to hate or assume all blacks are like that. Most blacks commit crimes against other blacks. Sad state of affairs. But when you write the "horrific things THEY do" as if THEY constitutes the entire community, that is a total bias and no news station should approach reporting from such a bigoted angle.
To those who harp about "liberal" bias, anything that is open-minded isliberal. So when you hear this now-common spin on the word, "liberal," just think "open-minded," and you will usually have it right.
There is no substitute for good judgement. Good judgement is notlearned by ideology or position papers or partisan interests.
"Liberal" actually means free. Liberal institutions are the institutionsof freedom.
But the best institutions and even the best constitution require judgement,or they will not survive.
Freedom requires open-minded people who excercise good judgement.
Several of the comments demonstrate a basic methodological confusion in analyzing "NPR liberal bias."
Rightly, and understandably, some listeners point out the bias that they hear on "The World" or on Brian Lehrer's WNYC program.
NPR and, I suspect, Ira Glass would protest that many of the "viewpoint" programs on public radio are not NPR News programs, and as such should not be part of any bias-analysis. They confine their analysis to NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and just a few other straight NPR news productions.
People often conflate "public radio" with "NPR" and part of the reason is that their own public radio affiliates don't emphasisze any differences. Ira Glass, being the consummate public radio fundraiser, certainly doesn't emphasize the difference, except when it suits his defense of public radio. So Ira (whose own program "This American Life" is not an NPR program) can say, "Support your local station with all of its great programming," and at the same time technically claim that NPR News is fair and balanced by confining himself to just a couple of programs during typical programming days.
If Ira Glass had to defend the straight-news biases of his own program, or Fresh Air, or, lol, "Democracy Now!", he wouldn't stand a chance. And both Ira and the leaders of NPR would say, "We don't take responsibility for any ideological bias on non-NPR viewpoint programs."
It is all a dodge, and not a terribly elaborate dodge. The real question would be to look at typical NPR-affiliated public radio programming days. Each station would be different of course. There is no political bias, if the programming is classical music and jazz. But if the programming day consists of NPR news, Terry Gross, Michel Martin, Tavis Smiley, Amy Goodman, Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, Marektplace, This American Life, the BBC World Service and not much else... then yeah; that is a fall-down easy case to make that the programming day is highly biased.
Scroll through the entire range of news and information programs at NPR.org, and see if there is a conservative corollary to any of the left-leaning programs I have listed just above. You won't find one.
I would LOVE to take on Ira Glass' challenge. Pick any one, or any dozen, of the nation's public radio stations that have abandoned their alternative arts and culture programming. (That is another worthy topic -- why is NPR even in the news business, when we are awash in cable news, internet news and a glut of commercial broadcast and published news?) Pick a few staions, and pick some programming days at random and analyze the entire broadcast day. The liberal bias is likely to pile up like rush hour traffic during Morning Edition or All Things Considered.
It's biased.Mostly, the bias is towards truth and to quote Steven Colbert "Truth has a known leftist bias". If someone does not have a scientific, fact-based, view of the Universe, NPR will be biased against them. Also, I hate to say it, but there is a bias towards 'goodness'. If someone has a theocratic view of the world, if someone has a racist view of the world, if someone has a view based on extreme self-interest, NPR is going to be biased against them.
But that is not all of the bias.The coverage of the attacks on US embassies was biased. The right wing press (correctly) points out that 1) it was probably a coordinated international terrorist attack and 2) we didn't prepare/defend against it well despite the fact that there were warning signs and 3) we probably cannot retaliate against it 4) Ms. Clinton did take responsibility, but has not been held to responsibility.
ابو كريم سكوريت 01222684200السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته / الاخوة الاعزاء اصحاب القرى السياحية و المنتجعات و اصحاب المحلات ومهندسين الديكور وكل من يبحث عن التمبز ابو كريم للزوجاج السيكوريت والمريات 16 ش ابى الفداء العطارين الاسكندرية / جمهورية مصر العربية تركيب واجهات المحلات وكبائن الشور والاسقف المرسومة والمضيئة وبتارين العرض والارضيات الزوجاجية المرسومة والمضيئة ووجهات الشركات والحوائط الزوجاجية بكل الوانها وتقسيم الاماكن والمولات بلازوجاج السيكوريت وكل ديكور المريات وصيانة الابواب السيكوريت نحن مستعدون لتنفيذ كل ما تشاهدونه فى الصور وتنفيذ اى تصميم
Here is another example of bias, in today's Brian Lehrer Show.
1) The tone of the discussion was extremely careful and tending heavily against the French cartoonist, starting with a statement by Brian Lehrer, essentially saying that the cartoonists' decision to publish now was dumb.
Brian failed to consider that maybe the cartoonists made a statement: That Muslim violence will not deter free speech?
2) The issue of antisemitism was raised as an example of how free speech is curtailed in the West when it's deemed inappropriate.
How is hatred of Jews comparable to criticism of Islam? Have the French cartoonists called for Muslims to be murdered? Did they condone a past genocide of Muslims? --Not a single word about that from Brian.
3) Brian and his guest failed to make mention of the extreme hatred spewing forth from Muslim media worldwide, including blood libels and outright calls for the murder of Jews and Christians and the destruction of their houses of worship. Not a single word. Even Thomas Friedman, a self-professed liberal wrote about it: See today's article, "Muslims, Look in the Mirror" at http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/thomas-l-friedman-muslims-look-in-the-mirror-654068/.
Here is a perfect example of bias, subsequent to the airing of the subject show:http://www.theworld.org/2012/09/israel-romney-palestinians/
In response to Romney's extemporaneous Mid-East comments, The World's Matthew Bell interviews a leftist Israeli NGO director and a Palestinian.
No one from the Israeli political right is introduced to provide balance. A right-wing perspective would have explained Israeli fears and the difficulties in reaching a peace settlement.
The upshot is that Romney's words are portrayed as "scary."
It has often been the case the NPR interviews Israeli leftists, as if they would balance comments made by Palestinians.
HaAretz opinions are often adduced, as if they represent Israeli public opinion. In Israel, HaAretz is a leftist newspaper with limited circulation. The corollary is that a listener would understand that the Israeli government does not represent the people's views, which, as surveys show, is wrong.
By the way, not even once have I ever heard coverage by NPR of speeches by Palestinian clerics and leaders to their own people, in Arabic--from the promises to never give up the right of return, to the glorification of "martyrs." That coverage alone would have explained why Israelis don't believe that Palestinians want peace.
With respect to "martyrs," I have never heard a single word on NPR about the naming of soccer teams, clubs and city squares after Palestinian bombers who murdered dozens of Israeli civilians. In contrast, any Israeli statement or action that could be construed as unhelpful to peace receives generous coverage by NPR.
Less bias in Middle East coverage would yield a richer, more accurate, and more informative broadcast. It would enable listeners to understand precisely where the roadblocks to peace are.
I may have detected a bit of language "softening" in todays online article, "ACLU Pushes for Answers on Drone Strikes". The last sentence states there was "an American who died in a drone strike in Yemen last year". Is it not true that the American would be more accurately (and truthfully?) described as "an American who was the TARGET of a drone strike in Yemen last year"?
Softening language to avoid admitting an assasination of an American citizen? Would this be different if the strike were ordered by Bush?
FYI DIYinSTL, It’s not a Federal criminal law violation to come into the USA without permission from the government (without Passports and Visas). It’s a Federal civil violation, though unlike other civil law violations like speeding on the highway or simple assault (touching someone without their permission) things you can be fined for doing, being in the US without permission can result in deportation as a punishment. So technically “illegal alien” is not a very accurate term, and "undocumented immigrant” is more true to the letter of the law. It is not correct to say this is a crime either, though some states like New Mexico and Georgia would like it to be. THey have succeeded in making some actions by or on behalf of undocumented immigrants crimes, but just being in the USA without permission is not enough to constitute a crime. Using the term "undocumented immigrant" is therefore not an example of NPR’s liberal bias, but of their better-than-average accuracy in news reporting standards.
Its not what they report, as much as what they don't report. NPR only reports injustices against gays, blacks, etc. and don't cover the horriffic things they do. I have been assulted by both of these groups, unprovoked. Gays are taught that republicans/christians hate them and blacks are taught that whites owned thier forefathers. I don't believe either is a hard and fast rule. "Rich" white people owned blacks in the past. My forefathers were not rich and fought on the union side. Give us a break sometime. Probably not popular on NPR, but the "golden rule" works for me.
First, kudos to Wally Mund for a cogent argument. Before presenting my case, I will admit to being an old-school conservative with a handful of liberal views. To wit, I don't like the democrats and the republicans left me behind years ago. I'm not impartial but would like to think I can recognize bias whether I agree with it or not. Perhaps a better way to judge NPR's bias is to look at how they handle some conservative issues. They mentioned "undocumented immigrants" but lets also add guns to the discussion. Any non-citizen who enters this country without passing through customs has committed a crime and is an "illegal alien". That is the technically correct and legal term. Using the term "undocumented immigrant" shows a liberal bias that paints the criminal as a warm fuzzy picked on individual deserving of your compassion. The tone of your stories on this subject is always sympathetic towards the alien and disparaging of those with other views. One hardly ever hears a story involving guns that is unbiased and uses accurate terminology. Despite constant criticism, NPR reporters do not understand that an "assault rifle" can be fired like a machine gun, is not readily available at gun shops or to the typical consumer, and are not part of the guns from the U.S. smuggled into Mexico. They ignore the fact that "assault weapon" is a political term used to describe the modern semi-automatic sporting rifle. The term was picked because it makes the semi-automatic sound more dangerous and NPR uses it in that manner. When covering the problem of guns being smuggled to Mexico, NPR parrots or lets go unchallenged the 90% figure currently being spouted by some politicians, including the President. The 90% is a rounding up of the 87% number claimed in a discredited GAO report. Even Homeland Security, when reviewing the draft of GAO-09-709, told them the number was wrong. If NPR (or even online fact checking sites) could bother to check their sources, they would know that 3,480 guns traced to the US out of 30,000 confiscated by the Mexican authorities over several years is less than 12%. Letters to the NPR ombudsman have had no effect on this. So yes, NPR, you do have a liberal bias on most of the hot button topics including reproductive rights, nuclear power. You also have a conservative bias when it comes to reporting on Israel.
I love Ira Glass. He is the reason I support WBEZ and not my home station of WHYY (and that decision was because of Terri Gross). But I have to say that he was starting from the wrong place. First, the assertion was made by Brooke that Fox perpetrates the NPR liberal bias, then Ira went on to cite one example from one show that runs for one hour five days a week (Bill O'Reilly). If it's a network problem, then they'd have no difficulty finding statements from anchors like Shepard Smith, Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto... By the way, Bill O'Reilly's show is opinion, not news. It's akin to listening to Wait, Wait to get your news.
Second, Ira was claiming that he doesn't hear a bias because he listens to Morning Edition and all the news-based shows (ha, see point above). Well, listeners of NPR are subjective and dependent upon what their station broadcasts. If I listened to nothing but Fresh Air, Prairie Home Companion, and Whad'ya Know?, I could make a solid case that NPR is 100% left-leaning--and I'd be right. The apples-to-oranges comparisons are just that, inconclusive, and there's no way to know what the average listener prefers. I stopped supporting Fresh Air and its station because I find Terri Gross to be repugnant, and really, I have no other choice but to yank funding from that station and shift it to one that supports content that I appreciate. I stopped listening to ATC Weekend because I found Andrea Seabrook to be more fair than Guy Roz.
Finally, everything has biases, and like I've just said, we tend to go to news sources that reflect our views and cover topics that are thought-provoking. It's why I think Hannity is a hack but love Bill O'Reilly (deal with it, Brooke). It's why I will tune in to Rachel Maddow's show (despite her focus on the right's hypocrisy while overlooking the left's) but will never be caught dead watching race-baiting Reverend Al's show. I think we try to boil all this down to two points of view--liberal and conservative--but forget that most Americans don't fit neatly in those ridiculous labels.
How is it that such informed and intelligent media members seem to be so far off the mark when it comes to the issue of the so called "liberal bias of the mainstream media"? Why can't NPR see the forest from the trees?
For at least the past 27 years, outlets such as Fox claim to be "fair and balanced", implying that others are not. Simultaneously, they claim that generally, most of the other media has a liberal bias. Objectively, there can be little question that outlets such as Fox have a very definite conservative bias. A bias that is fast shifting to the right, as evidenced by the fact that current Fox viewers would find Ronald Reagan too "moderate" to be an acceptable neocon candidate today.
NPR must consider the nature of the source of the claim that the media, generally suffers from a liberal bias. This is the same source that regularly inflames and feeds off the most atrocious biases of our society. A source that distorts the truth whenever it can get away with it in order to advance its neocon ideology. If this neocon dialogue, which purports to be fair and balanced news, were ever examined objectively (as opposed to through the filter of an obsessive desire to appear fair and balanced) it would be increasingly exposed and recognized as merely the propaganda of the increasingly radical right.
Accordingly, unless NPR either adopts Fox's neocon standard of reporting, or exposes that standard as the conservative distortion of the truth that it is, NPR will continue to look foolish in this debate. In an increasing effort to be objective, fair, and informed NPR merely ensnares itself deeper into the morass. in this context NPR brings to mind, Nixon when he said: "I'm not a crook".
Instead of inane questioning about its non existent liberal bias, just imagine the benefits that could flow from exposing blatant untruths and racist appeals. Our society still hungers for truthful, constructive, logical, and insightful reporting. This seems to be the simple solution to what NPR views as a complex and unsolvable dilemma: Embrace the truth, and stop obsessing upon appearing to be fair and balanced. Striving to appear fair and balanced, merely moves NPR content objectively to the right, which is exactly what the neocons seek.
We're not fond of institutions that investigate themselves because the results viewed are inherently unreliable. Investigations by objective neutrals, or adversaries seem to be better. Consequently, we accept that it would not be fruitful for NPR to investigate itself, or to conclude that it did not have a "liberal bias". Reliance upon the diaries of neocons is equally a dead end. Inherently, neocons will always be uncomfortable with everything short of a neocon bias.
Embracing the truth, without obsessing upon appearing fair and balanced, will make NPR the best it can be, and will at the same time maximize its chances of preserving its public funding. Value tends to endure!
The issue many of us politically-attuned-but-deliberately-unaffiliated types have with nearly all audio and visual media is the demonstrated need to sway our opinions. Speaking for myself, I want information – the facts and the context of those facts. I don't want someone's opinion presented in a factual manner. I don't want a "reporting interview" where the moderator seems to know more about the subject than the reporter. I don't want such an interview where it sounds scripted, although I grant editing may create the illusion of a script. I don't want an "analysis" of the facts forecasting the implications into the future. I don't want to see "News Alert" and "Breaking News" on a subject playing and re-playing a snippet of what I can best describe as legalized brainwashing. I agree with much of what Steve Butler from Georgia said. We are ALL biased. As listeners we simply do not want to know yours. I want a real-life rendition of Dragnet. I'll have only myself to mutter at when I misread the tea leaves.
I listened to the discussion this morning on the On The Media segment of NPR’s Sunday morning programming. I heard Mr. Glass defend NPR against the charge of liberal bias in their news reporting and programming and I thought, how is it even possible that he would attempt to defend such an obvious reality? It is like FOX news’ attempt to promote themselves as "fair and balanced". I accept that when I listen to any news outlet there will be bias present in their reporting. Even if one simply reports only factual information in a report, bias is present in how the facts are presented and the tone of the report---it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate bias. I do believe that news media attempt to be as “fair” as possible in most cases (in order to defend against bias) but even in a report that would be considered neutral and fair, the overall perception of the political bias of the outlet itself dictates how that report will be perceived. The overall tone of NPR’s programming is definitely liberal and to the left (Have you ever listened to their “entertainment” programming?). The overall tone of FOX news is conservative and to the right. The reason bias in the media is concerning is because most listeners are of average intelligence (which isn’t saying much) and it not very difficult to shape people’s opinions by presenting the “news” in such a way that it supports your political opinions and agenda.
I have been a constant listener since NPR was available. I stick with you because I feel that the news I receive, is the closest to the truth I will get. As for the wonderful Terry Gross and her show, so she allowed the speaker to state the facts. I was a member of a church starting in the late twenties . From what I remember the teachings dwelt more on the way of living than on the mythology. I have watched it change until it now dismisses all scientific knowledge and has made the mythology into fact. As a scientist I cannot accept that. I hope you will continue as you have been doing over the years and bring us the facts.
--Amanda, you are amazing. I also watch the "other media" at times to see what they have to offer and as you do, change the station when I hear the snark, hyperbole, spin etc. You and your opinion are refreshing.--Regarding the comment about Terry Gross' program and an interviewee denying the resurrection, the caller has to admit that the resurrection isk a religious and cultural "fact" to some and that any opposing view would be "offensive". I'm an atheist and and a naturalist andfind it offensive when someone thinks that because of those "beliefs" that I can't be moral or have ethics or believe in community. Just yesterday Krista Tippett interviewed an atheist who believes that we mist something by not attending chursches for their rituals, music and community. I learned something from that interview, which is what NPR is about. Providing information that makes us think about something and not just accept something as fact because a majority or large number of people believe it is so.
First off, I will let everyone know that I am a conservative with leanings towards the Tea Party type of conservatism for fiscal responsibility but I have been accused of being a moderate also. I know this will tick a few of you into the evil incantation of (you are on the wrong topic) but I really don’t care. Let us see if you can understand what is about to be said. I listened with interest tonight on the topic of Media Bias and while there were evaluations given of how many topics were covered with a right bent or a left bent, and if the NPR Staff was being fair or not, there was one thing I was hoping to hear that was not there. It is this one item that with, or without, can create the perception of bias or unbiased attitudes. The subject of CONTEXT in Answer to a Question! The example I will cite is what happened this last week with the sad events that took place over in Egypt and Libya. Understand that I am not defending or condemning Mr. Romney. I find it curious that Mr. Romney was asked a question and answered the question in the CONTEXT of which the question was asked about the events in Egypt even before the Libya tragedy was known about. After the Libya tragedy took place, the press used Romney’s comments as part of a narrative of the event without the simple act of playing the entire question that was asked of Mr. Romney at the time to give the answer CONTEXT. They used his answer out of context and reported it as part of an answer to an event that was not on the timeline of history when he made his statement, but shortly after. This is why the press, not just NPR, appears to be non-neutral. If you are going to report the answer that someone gives without playing the entire question that prompted the answer, then yes you are guilty of BIAS. If you only use a snippet of the original question or a snippet of the answer without revealing the entire discussion / question in its CONTEXT, then you are guilty of BIAS because by doing so with a partial question to a full answer or a partial answer to a full question, you are guilty of crafting a BIAS for the discrete murky purpose of persuasion of those unaware of the events being supposedly neutrally reported. Think about it! This is why people on both sides get spooled up and then become radicalized or polarized in their likes and dislike or opinions. The press is blatantly guilty of this. This is but on small example and a small segment that contributes to and helps to foster larger problems that we are having in this country. –Wally Mund -
First, let me assuage the fears of liberals who fear they are a dying breed. The first comment by Amanda M. should allow sleep to come to the true believers. She's 12 and she can hear "more liberal views". She might be in line for Brooke Gladstone's position. She'll just have to repress her propensity for vocalizing the existance of a liberal bias in NPR. Or at least not disclosing that viewpoint to anyone other than descendents of Ira Glass.
After listening to NPR's attempt to self diagnose, it would be an exercise in futility to attempt to argue the case for liberal bias in any way. I would have more luck reconvening the O.J. Simpson murder trial jury and convincing them he was actually guilty. Even if they thought O.J. did the deed, they would never admit it to anyone other than their fellow crack smokers (a product one would have to use regularly to acquit such a demon). After listening to the biased drenched commentators line up in a lock step march toward dismissing the case for bias, my thoughts were they existed in one of four states (maybe in all four really). The state of delusion, the state of denial, the state of ignorance, or the state of hell bent but purposely camouflaged advocacy. Whatever the brew may be, the fairly far left (NPR, etc.) and the fairly far right (Talk Radio) as well cannot constrain themselves in their goal to drive public opinion. The big difference between the right and the left is the right acknowledges their mind set. Most everyone left of center is desperately trying to climb under the umbrella of being part of a neutal media so as to appear mainstream and unbiased. I listen to NPR everyday as they do many things very well. Having the time to delve deeper into stories than commercial media allows is wonderful in these times. The music, the pacing, the lack of commercials will always keep folks listening to radio stations appropriately placed on the left side of the dial. But PLEASE, just leave the subject of your own bias sleeping happily in the souls of your devotees. You do yourself no intellectual good when you try to avoid the white light of truth. It's like finding your teen age daughter in the back seat of her boyfriend's car. They may claim their just doing their anatomy homework......but you know the difference.
Okay. I am having trouble coming up with fancy words like everyone else is in their comments on this debate. I am 12 years old, and I love NPR. I just love it. But my opinions on whether or not they have a liberal bias is strange. I don't really think a thing they say is biased, but many people who listen and hear views that are contradictory to theirs, may result in a thought of a bias. What I am confused about is Fox News, for example, may not be a publicly funded, or they might, not sure. But they, after watching for at least ten minutes, are quite biased. I have not heard many opinions stated by democrats, that have not been shot down. On NPR, I don't really hear much critisizing of different opinions. I just hear more liberal views. Which, I suppose, could be biased to some people. It doesn't seem very biased to me. But hey, I'm only 12, and I can admit that I really don't have such a great grasp of the political world. This is just my most likely incorrect opinion. Thanks...
It is strange that the right -wing has made science a political issue Are our children to grow up with all sorts of misinformation? How can we compete with other countries in solving problems when we make up reality?
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
On The Media is funded, in part, by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
the Overbrook Foundation and the Jane Marcher Foundation.