Katrina Vanden Heuvel isn’t alone when she claimed on MSNBC that her magazine The Nation wasn’t leftish, it was “transpartisan” and “independent.” Bill Moyers (alongside Michael Winship) has penned a third loopy attack on conservative critics of NPR. It’s gotten so loopy that Moyers claims he’s never heard anyone advocate liberal ideas on NPR:
For one, when we described the right-wing media machine as NPR’s "long-time nemesis," it was not to suggest that somehow public radio is its left-wing opposite. When it comes to covering and analyzing the news, the reverse of right isn't left; it's independent reporting that toes neither party nor ideological line. We’ve heard no NPR reporter -- not a one -- advocating on the air for more government spending (or less), for the right of abortion (or against it), for or against gay marriage, or for or against either political party, especially compared to what we hear from Fox News and talk radio on all of these issues and more.
Moyers brazenly claims that it’s conservative NPR critics who can’t stand debates or differing points of view, and that they loathe NPR because it’s “fact-driven” and has a high regard for evidence:
On Thursday's All Things Considered, NPR's Jim Zarroli vouched for continuing federal funding of public broadcasting by lining up seven sound bites from three supporters of the medium, versus only two from opponents. The supporters all hyped the dire effects if tax dollars no longer went to public TV and radio. Zarroli also completely avoided any mention of NPR's longstanding reputation for liberal bias.
Host Robert Siegel introduced the correspondent's report by playing up how "Congress gave $430 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Roughly three-quarters went to public TV stations, and a quarter or so to public radio stations. With Republicans again calling for CPB funding to be cut, NPR's Jim Zarroli looks at how that money is spent and what might happen if it's eliminated."
Zaroli picked up where Siegel left off: "Over the years, conservatives have often tried to eliminate money for public broadcasting without succeeding. In 1995, for instance, congressional Republicans tried to zero out CPB funds. Within a few years, CPB's budget was bigger than ever." He continued by introducing his first supporter of public broadcasting: "Pat Butler of the Public Media Association, which lobbies for PBS and public radio, says the odds against public broadcasting are greater this time."
[Update, 10:20 am Friday: The original version of this item stated that Brandon Smith worked for Indiana Public Radio. He is actually affiliated with Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations.]
NPR's Steve Inskeep, who used "deceitful sophistry" to contend that his network's audience leaned right in a Thursday WSJ column, also claimed in the same piece that "not much of the media pays attention to the middle of the country, but NPR and its local stations do." But an affiliate in his home state of Indiana touted the findings of a pro-ObamaCare organization on the first anniversary of its passage, while leaving out anything from opponents.
Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations led his Wednesday report on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the legislation by trumpeting how "Families USA, a non-partisan, national health care advocacy organization, released state-by-state data on the potential impact of the law." Despite running a sound bite from Ron Pollack, the executive director of the organization, and highlighting some of their data specific to Indiana, Smith didn't point out Families USA's liberal political leanings. NPR correspondent Julie Rovner also omitted the organization's ideological affiliation on Wednesday's Morning Edition, the very program which Inskeep hosts.
Newsweek worried this week that “What’s Killing NPR” is declining to let its journalists deny (ludicrously) that there’s any liberal bias on its airwaves. Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep is now taking on the lead lobbyist’s role with an op-ed in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal with the headline “Liberal Bias at NPR?” Inskeep’s claiming the answer is “No.”
The pull-quote in the paper is “Surveys show that millions of conservatives choose NPR, even with powerful conservative alternatives on the radio.” He also uses a GfK poll to argue "most [NPR] listeners consistently identify themselves as 'middle of the road' or 'conservative.'" The actual results from that poll: 28% conservative, 25% percent middle of the road, 37% percent liberal. Even NPR lovers accused Inskeep of using “fuzzy math” to fight the liberal-bias claim, like Jeff Bercovici at Forbes:
So, yes, it's accurate to say that 53 percent of NPR listeners - ie. "most" listeners - are either self-described conservatives of middle-of-the-roaders. But it's even more accurate to say that most listeners - 62 percent - are self-described liberals or middle-roaders.
NPR's Julie Rovner put the best liberal spin on the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law on Wednesday's Morning Edition. When an opponent of the legislation stated that supporters would try to "create constituencies that will fight to preserve it...[by] spending hundreds of billions of dollars on health insurance subsidies," Rover added that "those are just a few of the law's benefits."
The correspondent led her report with sound bites from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who marveled over the "landmark law," and Senator Orrin Hatch, who labeled it "one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of this country." She continued by focusing on the opponents of ObamaCare:
Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz suggests “What’s Killing NPR” is its failure to strike back at conservative charges of liberal bias: “Staffers flown in for a recent meeting in Washington groaned when executives said it would be too risky for them to aggressively defend NPR, and that perhaps they should get media training for Joyce Slocum, who took over on an interim basis after the firing of CEO Vivian Schiller.”
Kurtz quotes a series of angry NPR anchors who think they are the essence of fairness and balance. Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep insisted “I actually get accused of being a conservative as often as I get accused of being a liberal.” Kurtz asserted in an NPR survey last year, 37 percent of listeners described themselves as liberal or very liberal, 25 percent as middle of the road, and 28 percent as conservative or very conservative—a split he said was very much on Inskeep’s mind. “If you’re saying we’re a liberal propaganda front,” he says, “you’re insulting the intelligence of millions and millions of conservatives who listen to us every day. You are saying they’re stupid.”
NPR's Liz Halloran touted the federal government's Title X subsidy of contraceptives as "largely noncontroversial" in a Monday article on NPR.org, despite the House of Representatives' 240-185 vote in February to defund the program. Halloran also quoted exclusively from liberal Title X supporters or from conservatives who had second thoughts about targeting the program.
It only took her two paragraphs for the correspondent to use this slanted label of the federal program in her article, "Abortion Foes Target Family Planning Program." She also highlighted the longstanding funding of "family planning programs that provide contraceptive and related health and family services to millions of low-income women and men" and noted how Title X passed with "bipartisan support in Congress."
Halloran continued that "Title X, which serves more than 5 million men and women annually, is on House Republicans' chopping block. Supporters of defunding have characterized it as an effort to strip funds from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that use other funds to provide legal abortions, without singling out any particular group. The House in February voted 240-185 to defund Title X in the current budget year." But instead of tracking down one of the representatives who voted for this, or from one of their allies in the conservative movement, the journalist turned to a Republican skeptic:
It was likely not a surprise to "Inside Washington" viewers that most of the usual suspects on the panel Friday saw the crisis in Japan as not being good for the future of nuclear powered electrical plants in this country.
What certainly must have raised a couple of eyebrows though was the strongest opposition to any further construction of such facilities coming from lone conservative Charles Krauthammer (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Left's panic concerning the defunding of NPR has become quite comical in recent days.
Take for example Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) who took to the House floor Thursday and said, "If my friends on the other side of the aisle want to strip funding from NPR because they believe -- wrongly, in my view -- that NPR is biased, then we should be given the same opportunity" and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for advertising "on the partisan political platform of Fox News" (video follows with commentary):
On Friday's Morning Edition, NPR's Mara Liasson conspicuously excluded conservatives who are opposed to "comprehensive" immigration reform proposals, such as those forwarded by former President George W. Bush, during a report on Utah's new and "milder" immigration law. Liasson emphasized the state's "conservative politics," but couldn't find any conservatives who opposed the law.
Host Renee Montagne introduced the correspondent's report by highlighting how "Arizona's tough immigration law has received extensive coverage, and there's been a lot of talk about similar measures in other states. Yet, one of Arizona's neighbors, also known for its conservative politics, has taken a very different approach." Liasson set up her report by underscoring Utah's conservative credentials: "If you were to choose a state that would allow illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, work and drive without fear of deportation, you probably wouldn't pick Utah."
On Thursday the House voted 228-192 to end direct federal funding of NPR, but “Caucus” correspondent Michael Shear on Friday morning dismissed the move as a “distraction” in “NPR Vote One of Many Distractions to Come.”
The vote by House Republicans Thursday to strip National Public Radio of much of its federal funding is an early example of the ways in which narrow issues are likely to repeatedly distract lawmakers during the upcoming 2012 election season.
Republicans have put more emphasis on spending cuts, while Democrats have put their focus on job creation, but leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress have declared themselves committed to addressing the nation’s biggest economic challenges: reducing the spiraling deficits and debt, bringing down unemployment, addressing the long-term health of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Following the March 8 release of an undercover sting video of NPR executive Ron Schiller calling Tea Party members "racist," CBS initially gave no coverage to the ensuing scandal and resignations of him and NPR President Vivian Schiller. However, it turns out that the controversy was covered by a CBS News broadcast, the barely-watched 4 A.M. Morning News.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric did a news brief on House Republicans voting to de-fund NPR: "Republicans say NPR does well enough to fund itself, but Democrats say a cutoff of federal money would cripple some 600 public radio stations." She failed to make any mention of the scandal that preceded the vote.
Drucker came to NPR with the earnest recommendation that America desperately needs a significant hike in marginal tax rates that's more like socialist Europe, and perhaps a little value-added tax on top for seasoning:
NPR's Scott Horsley favored Democrats over Republicans by a five-to-two margin on Thursday's Morning Edition. Horsley played sound bites or quoted from Obama administration officials or congressional liberals more often than from GOP representatives.
During his report, the correspondent highlighted congressional concerns over the safety of nuclear energy during the Tuesday hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Energy Secretary Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Gregory Jaczko were the main witnesses during the hearing. Horsley first noted that "Chu was cautious in talking about Japan's nuclear crisis and its meaning for the U.S. Damage to the Fukushima reactors seems more serious than Three Mile Island. But Chu confessed we don't really know what's happening, and the situation is unfolding hour by hour."
Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller offered more Thursday on how NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley discussed with the fake Muslim front group MEAC how George Soros decided to obscure his large donation to NPR by opting against on-air announcements of his $1.8 million gift to place reporters in every state capital (perhaps complete with medical-marijuana information brochures).
But then Liley suggested to the MEAC impersonators this was not the first time Soros donated to NPR. In a classic example of Soros-enabled liberal bias, he funded a documentary about executions in the state of Texas -- on October 12, 2000! -- just as Texas Gov. George W. Bush was running for president. This was the day after Bush was questioned on the death penalty in Texas in a presidential debate. (Salon.com interviewed the documentarians under the headline "Inside the Texas Death Machine.")
This attempt at a public execution of the Bush for President campaign had multiple funders, according to the press release: "Witness to an Execution was funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Soros Foundation."
What follows is a statement NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center president Brent Bozell released moments ago:
Republicans said today that the arrogant liberal sneers at taxpayers in Flyover Country deserve to be met by NPR raising its own money in its own fancy cafes. And an organization that admits catering to a "core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite" is among the last that should survive budget cuts if legislators are serious about cutting unnecessary spending.
We applaud the 228 Representatives who stepped up to say so with their votes in the House today. If the Senate and President Obama really care about reckless spending, they’ll pony up and do the same. The time is now to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on funding NPR.
NPR's Michele Norris expressed the liberal skepticism of any tax incentive to spur job growth on Tuesday's All Things Considered during an interview of Intel CEO Paul Otellini. Otellini proposed a tax holiday for any company that built a new factory in the U.S. Norris replied, "Can this country afford that right now?"
The host asked the CEO about job creation near the end of her interview. She began with a left-of-center premise: "What can the government do to create jobs or can the government create jobs?" Otellini offered a free market solution:
New York Times media reporter and columnist David Carr discussed the surprising recent audience gains of the newly controversial National Public Radio in “Gains For NPR Are Clouded,” featured on the front of Monday’s Business Day section.
Carr sometimes grasps the conservative point of view on media issues, but on Monday he joined his boss, Executive Editor Bill Keller, in chiding the journalism of News Corporation, the media consortium owned by Rupert Murdoch. (Carr also went after the purported conservative bias at Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal in a December 14, 2009 column, “Tilting Rightward at Journal.”
On Monday he described an NPR under siege while defending the necessity of publicly funded journalism against new calls for budget restraint.
Danielle Kurtzleben at U.S. News & World Report crunched some numbers of federal campaign contributions and discovered that the NPR Board and the board of the NPR Foundation are -- surprise, surprise -- much more likely to donate to Democrats.
A review of campaign finance data found that NPR board members' campaign contributions have sharply favored Democrats. Since 2004, members of the boards of NPR and the NPR Foundation, the public broadcaster's fundraising arm, have contributed nearly $2.2 million to federal candidates, parties, and PACs, of which $1.95 million, or 89 percent, has gone to Democratic candidates and liberal-leaning political action committees.
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Carrie Johnson highlighted critiques of the Obama White House from the left on their promise to be "the most transparent administration in history," but downplayed questions over the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Unit's use of non-disclosure agreements with companies under investigation.
Host Renee Montagne introduced Johnson's report, noting that "in Washington, D.C., some people are calling this 'Sunshine Week.' It's a time of year when government watchdog groups evaluate the administration's commitment to openness. Two years ago, President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history."
The New York Times provided decent front-page coverage of the emerging scandal that took down top executives at National Public Radio, a hidden-camera sting that caught top fundraiser Ron Schiller making prejudicial remarks against Republicans in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The backlash resulted in the resignation of Ron Schiller as well as NPR President and chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation).
But Times media reporter Jeremy Peters took an incomplete look at the recent rash of hidden-camera hoaxes on Saturday under the strongly worded headline “Partisans Adopt Deceit As a Tactic for Reports.” Peters falsely implied that "gotcha" journalism had faded from view, ignoring two recent examples in the mainstream media, one from NPR itself.
National Public Radio's continued efforts to present itself as a politically-neutral news operation may suffer a bit from one of the organization's endorsements: that of the far-left activist group MoveOn.org.
MoveOn, which has received significant funding from liberal billionaire George Soros, started a petition recently to push Congress to "protect NPR and PBS and guarantee them permanent funding, free from political meddling." The endorsement is telling, given MoveOn's hard-left ideology. Would it really be pushing for continued federal funding for NPR if it didn't think the organization was serving its agenda somehow?
NPR itself has received $1.8 million in financial support from Soros, so this is not the first sign (beyond its actual news content, of course) that NPR advances - in one way or another, and whether it intends to or not - a leftist agenda. The ideological synergy is evident just in the groups offering NPR their support, MoveOn being the latest.
Conservatives agree that public broadcasting no longer needs federal funding. But McCain Republicans are hunting for strange compromises. Former McCain 2000/2008 adviser Kevin Hassett wrote for Bloomberg that NPR and PBS news is wrong-headed, but not its arts and education initiatives (like Big Bird): "Public radio and television, then, are defensible to the extent that they serve the public good by enriching the arts. NPR and PBS, however, wandered far from this mission, providing news content that is mostly indistinguishable from that provided by left-leaning for-profit enterprises."
Let's not assume that taxpayer-supported arts and culture aren't often twisted to support the statist agenda. NPR's "arts" reporting on Monday night's All Things Considered celebrated folk singer Barbara Dane, "a versatile voice with a political purpose." (Have you heard her songs, such as "I Hate the Capitalist System"?) Anchor Robert Siegel announced Dane passed "significant signposts," such as "She was the first white woman profiled by Ebony magazine. And she was the first U.S. performer to break the U.S. travel ban to Cuba."
If the resignations at National Public Radio continue at last week's pace, there may be no need for Congress to defund the aging dinosaur, because there will be no one left there to turn the lights on.
The latest is Betsy Liley, NPR's director of institutional giving. Conservative activist James O'Keefe secretly recorded phone conversations between Liley and a man masquerading as a potential donor from a fictitious group called the Muslim Education Action Center, which the man said had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The fake donor said his group was worried about a government audit. Liley told him that a $5 million contribution might not have to be reported to the IRS. Liley has been placed on administrative leave.
The damage control effort over at National Public Radio (NPR) is at such a state that they've consulted a piece from Glenn Beck's TheBlaze.com to argue it's the victim of a smear operation. On Sunday morning's "Weekend Edition," NPR delved into the report.
When a sting operation launched by conservative James O'Keefe recorded a top NPR Foundation fundraiser making disparaging comments about Republicans and tea partiers, NPR faced heavy public scrutiny. But a publication created by Glenn Beck, described by an NPR correspondent as a "sort of a conservative 'Huffington Post,'" used the full-cut video of the operation, released after the original edited video, to argue that O'Keefe may have cut the video to cast some comments out of context.
(Click here for the NPR story, which includes audio and transcript of the segment.)
As NewsBusters has been reporting, liberal media members have been out in force the past few days defending NPR.
On this weekend's "The Chris Matthews Show," New York Times columnist David Brooks said, "I thought it was really biased ten years ago, but now I think it’s pretty straight" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NPR's On The Media is a weekly show produced by WNYC in New York. When there's a NPR scandal, they are not fair and balanced. They are liberal warriors. They have stated repeatedly that liberal bias is a "canard" that causes "false balance." So it's not surprising they went into major Self-Defense Mode this weekend.
BOB GARFIELD, co-host: Joyce Slocum, NPR’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, was named interim president and CEO. She says that the political fallout from the sting will not change NPR’s journalism.
JOYCE SLOCUM: Knowing our newsroom and our journalists as I do, I think that they are going to continue to do as they have done and that is to take great care to ensure that their coverage is balanced, that they’re bringing a variety of voices to any given issue…
In response to this week's shameful exposure of bias at NPR, a couple of its hosts on Friday had an on air discussion about whether or not the radio network does indeed have a political leaning.
Shortly after "On the Media" host Bob Garfield said, "If you were to somehow poll the political orientation of everybody in the NPR news organization and all of the member stations, you would find an overwhelmingly progressive, liberal crowd," Ira Glass of "The American Life" maintained the outlet had no left-wing bias whatsoever (audio follows with partial transcript and commentary):