One reason NPR staffers seem to think their output is so fair and balanced and centrist? The NPR listeners. Listen to NPR talk shows, and see how badly the sample leans left. It was especially noticeable on Tuesday morning, after the Republican presidential debate. The Diane Rehm Show had a conservative on (Steve Hayes), and a lefty (Michael Tomasky) and two “mainstream” journalists. But the callers who came through were all leftists (expect the last one was neutral). Rehm began the show saying "I really want to hear your thoughts," but it appears she wasn't talking to everyone in the audience.
If you counted the e-mails Rehm read to the guests, the tally was seven questions from the left, one neutral, and one right-leaning -- in an hour on the Republican debate. Maybe if they said only Republicans should call in, they'd have no callers? The most provocative caller was Barry from South Bend, Indiana, who insisted he had a friend die who lacked insurance on Debate Day, and could not believe how “hypocritical” Republicans were to call themselves “pro-life” and oppose nationalized health care:
BARRY: Good morning. I find it extremely hypocritical that these GOP candidates stood up there and talked about how they're pro-life, yet none of them favor some type of universal health care. I have a friend that died yesterday (unintelligible) health insurance.
REHM: Oh, I'm sorry.
BARRY: Thank you. She worked hard. She waited until you could literally see the tumor through her skin before she sought treatment. And I just find it hypocritical that they all say they're pro-life but don't support universal health care.
But there was also Theresa from Palm Coast, Florida, who was haunted by another Bush running:
THERESA: First of all, I support President Obama's re-election. But I believe that none of the Republican candidates will be the 2012 candidate. It will be Jeb Bush, and here's why. Some years back, Karl Rove said he'd be interested in helping former governor of Florida Jeb Bush become president. I know many people think it's unlikely another Bush would run, but Jeb has a large base. His wife is Mexican descent, so he's got an edge on the Hispanic vote, the Christian right. And the NRA love him. And he has a lot of wealthy influential supporters. Now, as governor of Florida, Bush's policies looked in a shambles. But he's very ambitious, and he's very arrogant. So what do your guests think of the possibility of Jeb running?
Mike in St. Louis was upset there was no focus on homelessness:
MIKE: Listen, I wanted to make a comment based on the situation. Last night, I watched the debate. There is no talk whatsoever about homelessness in this country or the amount of people on welfare. And I think that the media needs to really focus on some of these other issues because people want to know about these things. There are a lot of people, just like your caller before, who had a friend who didn't detect her cancer until it's too late. What are we going to do about this? They seem that they want to be able to give these people a safety net, but yet big corporations have a free pass. And there's a big difference. Thank you.
Bob in Cleveland thought the Republicans didn’t care about the veterans:
BOB: What really upsets me is the way the media lets the GOP candidates get away with their adoration of people serving in the military. I thought Michele Bachmann was going to drop to her knees and worship them in the Navy. And yet, on the other side, when it comes to taking care of veterans -- and this is what infuriates me about the media.
They should've ask the candidates, well, how come the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed were allowed to exist under George Bush's, you know, service as president? Why were veterans being turned away with post-traumatic stress disorder from the VA because it was underfunded? You know, why are so many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war homeless? A couple of months ago, "USA Today" reported nearly 70 percent of veterans were -- of the homeless were veterans I mean, it seems like the Republicans, they use veterans or they use people in the military to make it look like they're for a strong defense. But on the other side -- and it was George Bush and the Republican Congress who were against the new GI bill.
James in Charlottesville, Virginia hated tax-cut politicking:
JAMES: I just wanted to add one comment that's from last night's discussions there and that was that it seems that the central policy of the Republicans, all of them, is tax cuts are the answer to everything. It's -- that's the panacea for the world. But, yet David Stockman, who was Ronald Reagan's director of the OMB, himself said that these ideological tax cutters of the Reagan administration were a significant cause for the great increase in the national debt. So why do they keep sticking to the same plan? And Bush promised no tax cuts, oh, for the wealthy. Oh, they create jobs. And five years later, we go over Niagara Falls, and we don't even have a barrel. So how do the tax cuts really pay off? That's my question.
The only non-liberal caller was at the very end. Kerry from Saline, Michigan asked what “evidence” the candidates brought during the debate, and wondered “what kind of expectations do you think the American public has for the candidates going to the next presidential election around providing evidence, providing statistics and reports from economists?”
As for the e-mailed comments Rehm read on the air, two leaned left, and one seemed pro-Republican. A hive of callers hated Steve Hayes saying "ObamaCare," which sounds Republican:
REHM: And we've had a number of people write in saying, "The commentator should not refer to the current health care bill as Obamacare. That feeds into the Republican argument. The bill, now law, is the Affordable Care Act." And we should remember that.
Then Danny in Arlington, Texas, says, "It appears Republicans have no plans on how to fix the economy. They just talk about how bad President Obama is doing. The only thing they talk about is less regulation. Less regulation is what caused the banking crisis and the recession. I don't understand what they plan to do."
REHM: Susan Page, here's an email from Cedric in Charlotte, N.C., who says, "I thought Rick Santorum was the break-out star of the debate, very knowledgeable. Could he be the VP nod to the right if Romney wins? Bachmann was solid overall. Her answer on gay marriage, supporting an amendment but not trying to get state laws overturned, was a consistent, mature, surprisingly nuanced though typically conservative position. She couldn't be hypocritical, considering Republican love of states rights."
That must have really hurt liberal ears. When people say Fox News is impossibly slanted to a right-wing audience, that it almost seems unanimous, an obvious rebuttal is always National Public Radio. Can you imagine making liberals pay taxes for Fox News?