In 2007, when The New York Times granted MoveOn.org a special discount it wasn't entitled to so they could slam David Petraeus in a full-page ad as "General Betray Us," NPR reported on the ad, but never on the Times cut-rate controversy.
But NPR is sometimes very sensitive about the "independence" of media outlets -- when it seems compromised by Republicans. On Tuesday's All Things Considered, they granted air time to KUOW reporter Sara Lerner in Washington state to discuss how the Seattle Times outrageously used their own free ad space for an favoring the Republican running for governor, and how 100 of the paper's journalists were protesting:
The ombudsman at a media outlet is supposed to be an advocate for the audience, a watchdog to keep the media outlet honest. But several new ombudsmen are following a more comfortable rut: kissing the hand that feeds them, and defending the media outlet from "baseless" public criticism. Patrick Pexton is doing that at The Washington Post, and Edward Schumacher-Matos is doing the same at NPR.
Late Monday, the NPR ombudsman slammed NewsBusters and National Review Online. The pull quote summarized: "I want to learn from the advocacy groups. But not much of their criticism holds up." He even suggested there was "certainly no liberal bias" as NPR flooded the zone of the London phone-hacking story that leftists thought could be Rupert Murdoch’s undoing:
In 2008, NPR's All Things Considered tried to take apart the "swift-booking" of Barack Obama by conservative author Jerome Corsi, insisting in several places "we know" Corsi's reporting wasn't factual. On Friday's All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik took a looser standard in publicizing the Palin-bashing book by liberal author Joe McGinniss. Folkenflik eventually found book experts who disdained the difference between a "warts and all" book and an "all warts" book. But none of the book's claims were held up individually as false. It just on the whole "felt unreliable."
This leads the listener to wonder what might be true: Palin's cocaine-snorting, the premarital sex with NBA stars, the neglect of her children? Which? Folkenflik brings up McGinniss's tawdry publicity stunt, renting right next to the Palin home in Wasilla, running some mini-soundbites of outrage from conservative talkers like Sean Hannity ("creepy") and Bill O'Reilly ("immoral"). But Folkenflik tweeted Friday "How rascally is the writer behind 'The Rogue'?" All in all, the stunt was a plus:
CNN's Fareed Zakaria made a bit of a Kinsley gaffe Friday.
On NPR's "Morning Edition," Zakaria said, "The people who watch Fox are not going to watch CNN...Our competitors should properly be The New York Times, the BBC, NPR" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Wednesday's All Things Considered, NPR's David Folkenflik erroneously claimed that NBC's Meredith Vieira "notably failed to contradict Donald Trump or others casting doubt on where Mr. Obama was born. Vieira...acknowledged those remarks passively." In reality, the Today show challenged the billionaire about the birth certificate issue, twice asking, "Do you believe he's [Obama's] lying?" [audio clips available here]
The media correspondent began his report by noting how "there comes a moment in almost every American presidency when the commander-in-chief turns media-critic-in-chief." After playing two clips from President Obama's press conference earlier in the day regarding the release of his birth certificate, he continued, "Mr. Obama said that for too long, the nation has been distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers. Notice, however, the President's words didn't criticize the carnival barker. He criticized those who get distracted, like the press corps sitting in front of him."
[View video clips from Vieira's April 7, 2011 interview of Trump below]
The $1.8 million grant George Soros gave to NPR was for local reporters in every state capital. But that doesn't mean NPR isn't also beginning to look like a Soros-pleaser on the national scene. Once again on Monday, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik went after Rupert Murdoch, and a voice-mail-hacking scandal at his U.K. tabloid News of the World. In England, the socialist newspaper The Guardian has been all over this story of disreputable media conduct, but The New York Times also filed a story on April 8.
Folkenflik found dramatic former Murdoch employees, like Andrew Neil, who made Watergate analogies. Folkenflik insisted the damage to Murdoch may not be contained, and then quoted Neil: "Who knew - the old Watergate question - who knew and when did you know it?" It began like this:
ROBERT SIEGEL: One of Britain's most popular newspapers has admitted that it hacked into the private voicemails of celebrities and politicians. NPR's David Folkenflik reports that the story underscores close ties between the authorities and Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
You would think after the Juan Williams debacle, NPR would keep away from bashing Fox News again. But even as NPR's liberal bias remains controversial in Congress, NPR is still waging war on Fox. It's apparently the only national news outlet worth questioning. On Thursday night's All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik profiled Bret Baier, but delighted liberals by announcing that he had studied six months of guest lists for Special Report with Bret Baier, and he insisted liberals were underrepresented:
FOLKENFLIK: I reviewed six months' worth of Baier's panels, and the same mix typically prevailed: two clear-cut conservatives and one other analyst, sometimes a Democrat or liberal but usually a journalist from a non-ideological news outlet. As I told Baier, that would seem to under-represent the left and also to cast reporters as though they're surrogate liberals.
On the morning before NPR announced its internal review of its leftist purge of Juan Williams for appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, media reporter David Folkenflik was "reporting" that the problem with the American news media is its painful lack of bias. Come again? "Mainstream news reporters don't tell you what they think enough of the time." That came from the star of the Folkenflik story, journalism professor Jay Rosen, a favorite of Bill Moyers. On the website, the story was headlined: "American Media's True Ideology? Avoiding One."
Anchor Steve Inskeep began: Yesterday on this program, we heard a story from London about the boisterous world of British newspapers and how they, unlike their American counterparts, openly embrace a point of view. Today, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik brings us an influential media critic who argues that mainstream American journalists do cling to their own ideology. It's not exactly on the right, not exactly on the left. He calls it the voice from nowhere."
It's not hard to imagine that Jay Rosen is "influential" in liberal media circles when he tells them they're not being liberal enough for him. Folkenflik set up his theory and his hopes and dreams for more bias:
"She took the admission of my visceral fear of people dressed in Muslim garb at the airport as evidence that I am a bigot. She said there are people who wear Muslim garb to work at NPR and they are offended by my comments. She never suggested that I had discriminated against anyone. Instead she continued to ask me what did I mean and I told her I said what I meant. Then she said she did not sense remorse from me. I said I made an honest statement. She informed me that I had violated NPR's values for editorial commentary and she was terminating my contract as a news analyst."
Williams chose not to participate in the review (perhaps knowing his view of the firing was already quite public.) The idea that Weiss's departure is coincidental doesn't come across in the Board's findings:
One laudable practice at National Public Radio is reading listener reactions on the air. On Monday night's All Things Considered newscast, they noted several listeners objected to NPR media reporter David Folkenflik stating Fox offered "voracious conservatism" while MSNBC merely offered "leftward tilt." Anchor Michelle Norris relayed:
The Pew Research Center last year found that public trust in the media was at an historic low because of those perceived slants. Well, several listeners thought our story had a bit of a slant. Stan Henney of Longmont, Colorado, writes: The reporter described Fox News as voraciously conservative, and MSNBC as tilting to the left. Both are subjective, not objective descriptions. I personally think that while some Fox personalities can be aggressive, MSNBC does a lot more than just tilt.