Bozell Column: NPR's Ridiculous Denials

In the public policy conversation today, there is nothing funnier than hearing the leadership of National Public Radio deny there’s a liberal bias at play over there.

Even when the Daily Caller posted sting video of their top fundraiser Ron Schiller describing America as remarkably under-educated and the Republicans as ruined by racist, gun-toting, phony Christians, NPR’s reaction was repeating Sentence One: Who, us, biased?

Schiller resigned, and then the NPR Board ousted CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation), who hired him. She was only a sacrificial lamb. Nothing has changed, policy-wise. The new interim CEO, Joyce Slocum, picked up exactly where the last boss left off. “I think if anyone believes that NPR's coverage is biased in one direction or another,” she suggests, “all they need to do to correct that misperception is turn on their radio or log onto their computer and listen or read for an hour or two.”

This is some serious denial -- like arguing that if anyone doubts that Japan is a terrific spring vacation spot right now, they should just observe the TV news and see how wonderful it looks.

This anti-NPR sting video reveals an NPR fundraising drive that’s clearly focusing on financiers that are hostile to conservatives. Last year, leftist philanthropist and hedge-fund billionaire George Soros announced a $1.8 million donation to NPR and days later, Juan Williams was canned for offending liberals by appearing on the Fox News Channel.

The same week that NPR unveiled that donation, Soros announced another million-dollar contribution to the censorious left-wing thugs at Media Matters for America, to "more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse." Their campaign slogan to advertisers and cable companies is “DROP FOX.” (Am I the only one who finds it curious that the “Open Society” folks want Fox closed?) 

The reporters at NPR are in even more denial than the executives. NPR rushed to interview Susan Stamberg, hailed as a “founding mother” of NPR, who insisted that executives have caused some “terrible, terrible hits,” but the “news” product is superb: “The work that we do has been so consistently extraordinary, the strongest news organization in electronic broadcasting, and that has been untarnished.”

Since NPR lives in a bubble of their own arrogance, their media reporter David Folkenflik sought no opposing view. (He didn’t even fish through NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard’s box of listener complaints, such as NPR’s recent erroneous on-air declaration that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was dead.) Folkenflik allowed for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to say NPR doesn’t need federal funds, but that’s not an evaluation of NPR’s professionalism. It implies Republicans are indifferent to a liberal political slant.

Most Republicans do want to focus simply on how NPR is an unnecessary federal expenditure, because it’s more true today than ever. In response, public broadcasters predictably cry that rural stations will shut down – as if NPR really cares about those people they consider uneducated, less-than-Christian, gun-toting hayseeds.

Anyone who looks at CPB’s grant budget knows the government offers scads of money to multiple NPR and PBS stations in urban areas. In the Baltimore-Washington TV market, there are three stations – why three? – that took almost $7.5 million in “community service grants” in 2009.  The $4 million-plus given to D.C. superstation WETA is more money than TV stations receive in 19 states.

The public radio situation has even more pots in the fire, with three D.C. stations – why three? – and four Baltimore stations – why four? –  taking another $2.2 million in 2009. If poor rural stations were so precious to CPB, couldn’t they limit themselves to one station per market?

And why is allegedly suffering NPR building a 330,000-square foot headquarters in downtown DC right now, complete with roof terraces, a fitness center, and a theatre for live performances?

But NPR is also in denial about how evolving technology has ruined the argument of “scarcity” of news. Take NPR anchor Michele Norris asserting on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” that if Republicans defunded the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, people in small towns in Indiana would no longer have news.

“These are small stations where people don't necessarily have access to news because a lot of the news stations and radio have fallen away. Take the state of Indiana. We just heard from Governor Daniels.  If public broadcasting went away, there are people in small towns, small stations, that would not have access to news.”

Apparently, people in small-town Indiana don’t have television, cable or satellite, or newspapers, or access to the Internet. Everyone’s on a starvation media diet of nothing but NPR.

These are about the most insulated and arrogant elitists anywhere. No wonder George Soros likes them. Fine. Take his money. Do his bidding. Leave the taxpayer alone.  

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center