From Monday’s Wall Street Journal Letters to the Editor:
It Is Time for NPR to Get Real About Its World ViewAccording to Steve Inskeep’s “Liberal Bias at NPR?” (op-ed, March 24), in surveys of National Public Radio listeners most identify themselves as “middle of the road” or “conservative.” I am sure if I went to a MoveOn.org meeting I would find a lot of people who also believe themselves to be in the “middle of the road”—their road.
What bothers conservatives is that NPR consistently airs America’s “dirty laundry.” Conservatives experience the very reporting on such things as gay rights, women’s rights and immigrants’ rights as “liberal.” For instance, NPR is comfortable covering the continuing legacy of racism against African-Americans as revealed in the many faults of our judicial system. But this mocks the conservative desire to think of our culture as a meritocracy. Conservatives want to tell a story about America absent ambiguity and injustice. Looking at the underside of our ideals is generally seen as “negative,” if not flat out “unpatriotic.” But as a liberal I feel more “honest” and “positive” when NPR helps me see the U.S. as we really are rather than how I simply wish we were.
Steve Inskeep complains that the remarks of NPR executive Ron Schiller were taken out of context, without identifying either the remarks or the context. Among others, the remarks were that the tea party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean, basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting—I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”
The context was a lunch meeting in which individuals purporting to be from an organization dedicated to combating “intolerance to spread acceptance of Sharia across the world,” explained their desire to give up to $5 million to NPR because “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.” If those were not the remarks, what were? If that was not the context, what was? Mr. Inskeep does not say.
The real issue is why, with “a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners,” NPR needs corporate welfare. Mr. Ins keep dodges that one, too, because “as a reporter” it’s not his job to give an answer.
Robert A. Philipson
Santa Monica, Calif.
Both Vivian Schiller and Ron Schiller deserved to be let go by NPR for the same reason. They were exposed as being on the far left and openly critical of those who are not. I would add that Ron Schiller did us all a favor by announcing that public funding was not necessary to support NPR.
According to NPR’s own insights the public radio audience is “set apart by its high degree of education and professional attainment.” The average NPR listener is overwhelmingly white (86%) and is significantly wealthier than the average person. Is there any compelling reason why a government with a $14 trillion debt needs to support this demographic?
I am a conservative who listens to NPR. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there is a liberal bias. There clearly is. I and many others with my political orientation like to listen and read about issues presented from many perspectives. Lots of news organizations without public funding present a conservative slant. The only reason that Mr. Inskeep and other defenders of NPR have to masquerade as unbiased is their public funding. Get rid of that, Steve, and there will be no need to defend the obvious liberal bias.
Mr. Inskeep’s totally misses the point. Whether NPR has a “liberal bias” or not, the justification for stopping public funding is simply answered by his own assertion that “NPR’s audience keeps expanding.” If there is a market for the product that NPR provides, then it can support itself just like any other media outlet.
David M. Long
The real question with regard to public funding for NPR isn’t about bias, it’s about the role and size of government. There is no more reason for taxpayer dollars to go to NPR than to Fox News or this editorial page.
I’ve listened to NPR for nearly two decades and enjoy its programming very much. I have come to recognize NPR’s bias as being largely rooted in what you don’t hear, due to targeted discussion topics and carefully chosen guests. For anyone who thinks NPR’s reporting is not from the left, ask yourself, when was the last time you heard a story that touted the benefits of lower taxes and limited government, the positive role of religion in everyday life, or the extent to which a fetus feels pain? When was the last time you heard NPR report the other side of these issues in a positive light?
Kevin E. Cahill