Previously, Newsbusters described how NPR News refused to answer in writing NPR’s own ombudsman’s devastating critique of a series by correspondent Laura Sullivan in which she made sensational claims of South Dakota state government greed at the expense of American Indian families. In their brief non-response response, NPR admitted that there were a few mistakes, but spent as much space attacking their own ombudsman (including ironically inflating the number of months he spent on the investigation). As reported in the public radio trade publication Current, NPR continues to stonewall on the issue.
NPR news executives not only refuse to discuss the matter with outsiders, but they won’t even do so with their own. While the NPR ombudsman agreed to talk to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, NPR news executives would not. They also would not speak to Bob Garfield, host of the NPR-distributed weekly media program On the Media out of WNYC in New York.
With its frequent overt bias, NPR’s weekend media show On the Media makes NPR’s news magazine shows like Morning Edition appear thoroughly objective by comparison. It is so hopelessly biased that shows to explore the question of whether NPR was biased were themselves overwhelmingly biased. More recently, it deemed the issue of media coverage of butcher Kermit Gosnell’s trial to be too insignificant for any of its nine one-hour shows that occurred after the trial began.
On this past weekend’s show, On the Media aired a segment on the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups. While the segment primarily consisted of a Bob Garfield interview with Michael Calderone, Senior Media Reporter for the Huffington Post, it’s clear the shows’ two co-hosts used the segment as an excuse to ridicule conservatives and conservative websites—Glenn Beck / TheBlaze and Right Side News on this occasion.
As Newsbusters has detailed again and again, coverage by dominant news organizations of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial has been almost non-existent. Taxpayer-subsidized public radio is no exception, even after the issue of non-coverage gained widespread attention last week.
As the fifth week of the Gosnell trial continues (it opened March 18), NPR still has not devoted a single piece to the topic of the trial. It did briefly reference the trial once--in a story about Pennsylvania abortion clinic regulations that resulted from what authorities found in Gosnell's clinic during a raid. On March 28, NPR's afternoon news magazine All Things Considered gave only 19 seconds out of 4 1/2 minutes to reporting on the Gosnell trial. In sharp contrast, the piece's author, Jeff Brady, NPR's Philadelphia-based National Desk Correspondent, gave five times the amount to time to detailing the "expensive" hardships Pennsylvania abortion clinics now have to endure. The story left out entirely the details of the horrendous charges against Gosnell.
“So back in 2007, you surely knew that this story would not be taken only at face value, that it would mutate" Garfield told Boston Globe reporter Neil Swidey, the original sleuth of “Seamusgate,” “and it would be used as ammunition by those who would portray Mitt Romney as the Michael Vick of presidential candidates. It still wound up as your lede. You feel any compunction about that at this stage?”
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):
On NPR's weekend show On The Media (produced by radio station WNYC), New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller reacted badly to NPR's Bob Garfield suggesting Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was a "looter" or a smasher of windows. Keller insisted the document dump has "more value" than that metaphor, that the dump is "absolutely fascinating...like a graduate seminar" on international relations. It's a "ridiculous standard" to insist these finds must be Earth-shattering to be a positive development:
BOB GARFIELD: Now, the stories so far have been revealing but unsurprising, it seems to me, and not especially indicting. It’s made me wonder whether WikiLeaks is a legitimate whistleblower in this case or just a looter. Has Julian Assange shed light here with the release of 253,000 cables or has he just smashed a very big store window?
BILL KELLER: I think that the documents have more value than your metaphor gives them credit for.
The public-radio show "On The Media" explored the debate over defunding public broadcasting on Saturday -- but utterly stepped around any evidence from certain conservative media watchdog groups that NPR or PBS have a liberal bias. Host Brooke Gladstone perfectly characterized how the NPR elite arrogantly conceive of their mission: some say they have a liberal bias, but they are merely seekly to build a better, more informed, more thoughtful democracy. As usual, liberalism and enlightenment are the same thing:
I guess fundamentally this all boils down to what you think of public broadcasting. If you think it’s a left-wing-inflected source of information, then there would be no reason to support it. But if you think – you know, going back to that old chestnut, that it actually leads to a more informed electorate that can make a better democracy, then you might have a different view.
Speaking up for defunding (and bashing conservative Republicans) was Nick Gillespie, the editor of Reason magazine. Later, co-host Bob Garfield brought on former Washington Post editor Steve Coll for the liberal-overdrive position of massively increasing federal support for taxpayer-funded media.
Over last weekend, the NPR show On The Media devoted a segment to co-host Bob Garfield remembering the legacy of William F. Buckley Jr. Garfield quoted George Will on the massive effect Buckley had on the history of conservatism and even ending the Cold War, but he turned it around to how conservatism is badly represented today by the Limbaughs and Coulters.
"It’s an unfortunate bit of media irony, then, that the most famous moment in his courtly, witty, supremely civilized pundit’s career would be his televised confrontation in 1968 with author and rival Gore Vidal," as Garfield recalled Vidal calling Buckley a "crypto-Nazi" and Buckley pledging to sock him in his "queer" face. Would the liberal media remember liberal eminences by their biggest TV fight? Garfield concluded:
Within his article, Mufson brought in advertising critic and NPR host who injected his own political beliefs about oil companies like Chevron (emphasis mine):
"What these ads, like all oil company ads, do is accentuate the positive and don't mention the venality, the environmental impact and overarching greed that is at the bottom of their businesses," said Bob Garfield, a TV ad critic for Advertising Age.