The Cutline

NPR hosts ‘fighting back’ against liberal bias accusations

Joe Pompeo
The Cutline

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NPR has been getting pelted with "bias" spitballs lately from conservative politicians and others who consider the radio outlet too far left for federal funding.

Ira Glass, host of NPR's popular "This American Life," spoke out about the attacks on his employer in an interview with the hosts of "On the Media."

"It is killing me that people on the right are going around trying to basically re-brand us, saying that it's biased news, it's left-wing news, when I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it's not," he said. "And we are not fighting back, we are not saying anything back."

Some of Glass' colleagues are now heeding his call to action.

"Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep took to the editorial pages of Thursday's Wall Street Journal to push back on claims that NPR is a liberal shop.

"The recent tempests over 'perceived bias' have nothing to do with what NPR puts on the air," Inskeep writes. "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.' ... Many other Americans are listening in places like Indiana, my home state. Not much of the media pays attention to the middle of the country, but NPR and its local stations do."

Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, "On the Media" co-hosts, are also on the case. The duo devoted last week's show to debating: "Does NPR have a liberal bias?"

One of their guests, communications professor Daniel Hallin, offered the following: "NPR, like, actually, quite a few of the mainstream news organizations in the U.S., I would say still adheres to the old-style journalism that tries to stick to the center and tell both sides." Libertarian evangelical Christian Sam Negus conceded: "There is a difference between NPR's kind of news coverage and, and the editorial stuff. I do see that bias less obviously in the news coverage."

In the end, "It's incredibly complicated," was Gladstone's answer to the show's own question. (You can listen to the episode and read a full transcript of their findings here.)

Meanwhile, AOL's Daily Finance brings news today that will surely further fire up those seeking to de-fund NPR: Its biggest shows are actually making money.

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