In the wake of On the Media‘s Sisyphean effort to debunk the charge that NPR’s news coverage has a liberal bias, Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep ventured into the lion’s den – the Wall Street Journal op-ed page – to attempt the same.
Inskeep’s summary of NPR’s current image problem:
A video editor created a faux organization, set up a meeting, and secretly recorded the bone-headed remarks of an NPR executive. The editor, activist James O’Keefe, spliced together clips to suggest that NPR was prepared to take money from an Islamist group allegedly founded by members of the “Muslim Brotherhood in America.”
Emails show that NPR refused the money, and the conservative website The Blaze discovered that the executive’s remarks were repeatedly lifted out of context. Nevertheless, the executive and his CEO were dismissed.
[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.
Beyond that, Inskeep says, he’s met a bunch of people – American soldiers in Iraq, Republican lawmakers, regular folk in America’s heartland, even (yikes) Sarah Palindrones – who listen to NPR.
So what’s the problem?
Well, for starters, does having conservative listeners mean by definition NPR’s content is not liberal?
Don’t some liberals watch Bill O’Reilly just to make sure they still hate him?
Something tells me NPR’s critics are not yet convinced by NPR’s defense.