Politics

NPR has history of being accused of liberal bias

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Conservatives have long criticized National Public Radio (NPR) for its perceived liberal bias. With Juan Williams’ recent firing — for comments about Muslims he made Monday on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” — NPR critics are again highlighting the government-funded radio network’s left-wing tilt.

“Juan Williams has done nothing wrong. What he said echoes what the vast majority of Americans believe,” Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, said in a statement. “It’s their tax dollars that fund NPR. But NPR is ignoring them. Instead, they are kowtowing to the agenda of radical anti-Americans like CAIR, and doing the bidding of George Soros, who hates Fox News with a passion.”

Conservatives have long been disturbed with NPR, which they perceive as having a left-wing bias, for both the choices of their stories and for the manner in which they cover divisive topics.

One of the more recent, visible instances of NPR programming that inspired conservative angst regarded an animated cartoon called “Learn to Speak Tea Bag,” which disparaged the Tea Party.

Even more politically liberal commentators have noted the liberal bias of NPR. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes that in 2004, when there was a debate over the launch of Air America, the sentiment of many pundits was, “wait, don’t we already have a liberal station: NPR?”

On “The Chris Matthews Show,” for example, the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan, who has veered in the direction of the political left in recent years, asserted that Air America was redundant because NPR already represented the liberal point of view.  “I have three letters for you, NPR . . . . I mean, there is liberal radio,” he said.

In 2009, in an incident some viewed as hypocritical, executives at NPR requested that their correspondent, Mara Liasson, reconsider her frequent appearances on Fox News due to what they felt was the network’s partisan coverage.

Joe Scarborough voiced the feeling of many at the time. “Well I just want to say, I love NPR and I listen to NPR, but I’ve been listening to reformed, pot-smoking hippies for the past thirty years on NPR with a very substantial left-wing bias — and I don’t care that they eat tree bark like Euell Gibbons, and I don’t care if they are still smoking pot in their sixties,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They put on great radio. But for NPR — for NPR, the leadership at NPR to question the bias of Fox News is a joke.”

Interestingly, a 2006 Pew Study found that the audiences of notable right of center programs, like “The Rush Limbaugh Show” and “The O’Reilly Factor,” were more knowledgeable than NPR listeners.

  • cstngl2

    Oops:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201010210054

    Just in case there was any doubt about whether The Daily Caller should ever be taken seriously, this paragraph from Caller political reporter Caroline May should put the matter to rest:

    Even more politically liberal commentators have noted the liberal bias of NPR. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes that in 2004, when there was a debate over the launch of Air America, the sentiment of many pundits was, “wait, don’t we already have a liberal station: NPR?”

    Now, here’s what the 2004 FAIR report actually said:

    News of the April launch of Air America, a new liberal talk radio network, revived the old complaint, with several conservative pundits declaring that such a thing already existed. “I have three letters for you, NPR . . . . I mean, there is liberal radio,” remarked conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan on NBC’s Chris Matthews Show (4/4/04). A few days earlier (4/1/04), conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Nightline, “The liberals have many outlets,” naming NPR prominently among them. [Emphasis added]

    See the difference? FAIR said “several conservative pundits” declared that NPR is a liberal talk radio network. The Daily Caller portrayed that as FAIR noting that liberal pundits had made that claim.

    And in the process, the Caller completely ignored this portion of the FAIR report:

    Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

    FAIR’s four-month study of NPR in 1993 found 10 think tanks that were cited twice or more. In a new four-month study (5/03–8/03), the list of think tanks cited two or more times has grown to 17, accounting for 133 appearances.

    FAIR classified each think tank by ideological orientation as either centrist, right of center or left of center. Representatives of think tanks to the right of center outnumbered those to the left of center by more than four to one: 62 appearances to 15. Centrist think tanks provided sources for 56 appearances.

    So the Daily Caller took a FAIR study that debunked the claims of conservatives that NPR is biased towards liberals, ignored the debunking, and pointed to the study as evidence that liberals say NPR is biased towards liberals.

    In other words: No, the Daily Caller should not be taken seriously. Ever.

  • Pingback: NPR CEO: Juan Williams’s views of Muslims should be between him and his shrink « Hot Air

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com apollospeaks

    WHY DOES NPR TOLERATE APOLLOSPEAKS?

    If NPR found Mr. Williams’ comments on the Factor so damning and offensive to Moslems as to necessitate the termination of his contract then why do they tolerate ApolloSpeaks? Why do they post my even more offensive and politically incorrect articles on Mohammed and Islam on their website? In several of my 64 pieces that NPR posted I crossed the line and dared call Mohammed a “thieving mass murdering terrorist thug” and said, God knows how many times, that “Islam was a religion of hate, intolerance, discord and war.” If NPR gave Mr. Williams the boot for saying that he’s nervous around traditionally clad Moslems on airplanes then why haven’t they booted me? Why do they post “racist bigoted Islamophobic” articles that blatently ridicule the prophet and founder of Islam? A man so great, wise, holy and perfect that he stands above criticism (according to most Moslems) and was the closest thing to God on earth? What utter, puking hypocrites!

    Click my name and see for yourself the complete list of my worse than Juan’s anti-Islam articles posted by NPR.

  • 76United

    NPR are a bunch of racists. White people on NPR have said they wanted Limbaugh dead and they didn’t get fired. This is racism, straight up. This is about a white run company, NPR, hating a black man.
    Thanks, Janeane!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nile-Ryan-McCoy/1337081646 Ryan in Iowa

    Juan is to good for NPR anyhow. When Huckabee starts his run for President, they should make the timeslot Juan’s, and let him headline his own show. In the meantime, I always look forward when Juan Williams guest hosts for Bill O’Reilly.