NPR: No Such Thing as Unbiased
The thing about bias is that 1) we’re all biased; 2) we often have a hard time identifying when those of similar bias are being biased; 3) we can identify bias, but probably overstate it because of our own bias! Thus, when NPR’s Steve Inskeep defends the unbiasness of NPR, well, my own bias leads me to conclude he’s biased.
[L]et’s consider the fundamental question: the accusation of “liberal bias” at NPR, which drives many critics calling to eliminate its federal funding. It’s not my job as a reporter to address the funding question. But I can point out that the recent tempests over “perceived bias” have nothing to do with what NPR puts on the air.
The facts show that NPR attracts a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners to its member stations on-air. In surveys by GfK MRI, most listeners consistently identify themselves as “middle of the road” or “conservative.” Millions of conservatives choose NPR, even with powerful conservative alternatives on the radio.
I know it’s my bias showing, but conservatives can walk and chew gum at the same time. Hence, they can listen to conservative “talk radio” and still get their hard news from NPR. Frankly, I think that the news from NPR is perfectly fine. It’s all the other stuff–the feature piece selections, the lifestyle/culture talk shows, seemingly all the editorializing (when it is done)–that tilts it leftward. (A locally notable exception is WRNI’s Political Roundtable, which is a balanced affair). You see, it’s not that we expect NPR to be unbiased, just be balanced…and fair (couldn’t resist!). You know, show a few different sides of a political story instead of the one emanating from the Minnesota Prairie, for instance.