NPR's Notrious Right-Wing Bias

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That's how Duncan Black sees it, anyway. He links to a report by National Public Radio's ombudsman that found experts from right-leaning think tanks were quoted significantly more frequently than scholars from tanks on the left in 2005: 239 to 141. And as Black notes, those 141 come from Brookings and CSIS, which aren't terribly far left.

First of all, I've got a few questions about this count. Are CSIS and Brookings really the only left-leaning tanks that provide experts for NPR stories? Let's try Googling NPR for the New America Foundation. Whoop, there's a bunch of hits. How about the Economic Policy Institute? Oh, gosh, there's a bunch more. How about the Institute for Policy Studies? Hits galore! And those are just the first three leftish tanks that came to mind; I hear there might be a couple more out there. To say the ombudsman pulled his numbers out of his ass would be an insult to asses everywhere.

Second, I notice that Duncan quotes the numerical result, but omits this bit, which immediately follows it:

There may be other experts who are interviewed on NPR who present a liberal perspective. But they tend not be based in universities and colleges and are not part of the think tank culture. That seems to be where most conservative thinking on the issues of the day can be most easily found.

That's putting it mildly. Even if the count were accurate, it wouldn't be a super useful comparison. If, as the conventional wisdom has it, the right is dominant among the think tanks, it's precisely because the right's think-tank network was deliberately set up as a kind of alternative-academia for conservative and libertarian scholars who perceived major universities as unwelcoming. If you're a reporter looking for a quote from some credentialed scholar, you're going to have an easier time finding a professor to offer a view from the left; you're more likely to go to a think tank when you're looking for a contrasting view from the right. So what, exactly, is this supposed to prove again?

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  1. As skeptical as I am when people make broad assertions about liberal media bias, Julian is also right to tear apart Duncan Black’s claim. Whatever NPR’s bias may or may not be, any factoid that only takes into account think tanks is relatively useless. You need to look at the full range of experts quoted, not just think tank experts.

    For all I know, a full look at all experts quoted could still reveal a particular bias. But, if you want to make a claim, get your numbers right, dammit! As somebody who just spent an afternoon poring over papers and arguing with colleagues to resolve some conflicting interpretations of data, I have no patience for sloppiness with numbers!

    Incidentally, the fall out is that I was right and they were right, but we were asking two different questions.

  2. Let’s not forget that a generally right wing think tank may hold a few left wing opinions. This creates a useful way to conceal a leftist bias or give leftist views a mainstream appearance.

  3. site:npr.org 2005 “New America Foundation”>Googling NPR for the New America Foundation. Whoop, there’s a bunch of hits. How about the Economic Policy Institute? Oh, gosh,

  4. Anyway, I know I mostly reiterated Julian’s point. I guess that, after spending an afternoon plugging away at a data interpretation issue, I got pissed that somebody would dare to put useless numbers into print.

  5. There may be other experts who are interviewed on NPR who present a liberal perspective. But they tend not be based in universities and colleges and are not part of the think tank culture.

    Surely this is a typo for “…tend to be…”?

  6. And of course the multiply oxymoronic Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    Of all the words in their name, I think “Center” might be accurate, though I can’t prove it.

  7. Julian,

    Last year, I was on vacation (away from the internet) and I heard YOUR NAME on All Things Considered, which my grandparents like to listen to. (It threw me out of my vacation reverie briefly, but I recovered) Anyway, I forgot all about it until this posting. So, for the count, do you consider yourself a left-wing expert or a right-wing expert on the critical topic of getting “Dodgeball”‘ed in DC bars?

    Google “NPR Julian Sanchez”, and this is the top item:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3866348

  8. I believe in that context I’m a right wing-man expert.

  9. Besides all this, the idea that NPR gives more voice to conservative opnion is ridiculous on it’s face.

  10. I like this too,
    The 141 come entirely from Brookings and CSIS, which are hardly hotbeds of progressivism in a way which provides any balance to AEI/Heritage/Cato/Hoover/Manhattan. emphasis mine

    So if by “conservative” you mean classically liberal, well then sure.

  11. The worst thing about NPR is not the liberal bias, it’s the smug, condescending tone of voice used by all the announcers.

    What broadcasting school teaches that or does NPR teach it in-house?

  12. I listen to NPR fairly often in the morning. Zeus knows that you can almost hear them trying to be objective. But I’ve rolled my eyes too much and said “National Proletarian Radio” one time too many to buy any crazy arguments that they don’t lean quite a bit to the left. The local kids probably make it sound worse than it is, and I imagine there’s some attempt to toss in some rightish stuff to fend off the death blow from Congress, but I think even joe would acknowledge some leftishness in NPR-Land. They do enunciate very well, though.

    I don’t think the media in general is all that left-leaning, by the way, though certainly most reporters are, well, not conservative (or probably even libertarian). That’s offset quite a bit by the lust for marketshare and the somewhat conservative nature of the media conglomerates, I’m sure.

  13. NoStar,
    I have to disagree. I like smug and condescending. It’s that their smug condescension is so unwarranted that grates on me

  14. It seems that on NPR, libertarians are listed as either “right-wing” or “civil libertarian” depending on whether the topic is economic or social, respectively, never “left-wing” and rarely “libertarian”. Sometimes, they’ll use “right wing” instead of “civil libertarian” on a social policy topic to suggest “dissent in the ranks”, under the assumption that libertarians are just a cranky subspecies of conservatives.

  15. Their enunciation is downright weird in my opinion. Can you imagine the school where they drum that robotic tone into the readers?

  16. I have a friend that is suspicious of Cato because of the donations given them by oil companies.

  17. CSIS is only considered center-left because as a general rule, they absorb the policy experts from the party out of power. When I was there 5 years ago they were considered center-right.

  18. That was almost as funny as Kos’ claim the military overwhelmingly chooses Democrats.

  19. T.Rev, if there’s a typo, its in the ombudscritter’s original text.

  20. Rimfax,

    Every time I hear the Cato Institute cited, it’s described as “libertarian” or “free-market”.

  21. You have to go easy on Atrios. He probably was just mentally exhausted after hitting the “Open Thread” button one too many times.

  22. Julian wrote: “…the right is dominant among the think tanks, it’s precisely because the right’s think-tank network was deliberately set up as a kind of alternative-academia for conservative and libertarian scholars…”

    I sense some na?vet? in this statement. More than just a scholarly abode, a good look at how think-tanks operate reveals an unwholesome pattern of pushing the political envelope, where they mainly act as an extension of corporate interests and have a significant role in shaping public opinion. Funding for college studies pales in comparision to what these institutions garner.

  23. “The worst thing about NPR is not the liberal bias, it’s the smug, condescending tone of voice used by all the announcers.”

    Who can listen to the phrase “I’m Robert Siegel” and not immediatly turn the dial?

  24. ZILLA, I’m a former university researcher, and I think you are underestimating the funding that universities get–I’m talking private funding here, mind you–by an order of magnitude. The think tanks are a drop in the bucket next to the universities. Also, I don’t think universities or think tanks are necessarily “captives” of their funding institutions. I don’t doubt that such capture happens, but I think it’s less prevalent than a lot of people think.

    Reason is the captive of Big Sushi 🙂

  25. I thought Reason was the captive of Big Carpet Fitness.

    BTW, I hear that all that static electricity discharging on your genitalia really hurts.

  26. “Notrious”?

    I’m a captive of the porn lobby.

  27. The New America Foundation puts out some real good shit. Reading the material on their website had a lot to do with making me go from liberal to libertarian.

  28. Herrick,
    Do your balls still hang to the left or did they convert too?

  29. This is just silly.

    Even if they do quote conservatives more (which they apparently don’t) what’s to say that it isn’t just to eviscerate the person who they’re quoting? And the whole idea behind bias is that it comes out in the reporter’s reporting, not that the people the reporters talk to are biased.

  30. …and to the a**hole that’s thinking of lecturing me about “whom”: stfu.

  31. “The worst thing about NPR is not the liberal bias, it’s the smug, condescending tone of voice used by all the announcers.

    What broadcasting school teaches that or does NPR teach it in-house?”

    It’s got to be the same people who teach various blitherers and jabberers on TEEVEE shows that they must wear an insipid and ghastly grin all the way through their segments, no matter how serious might be their subject matter. Goddamned waterheads.

    His manifest refusal to comply with this convention is one thing that always attracts me to Hitchens’ appearances. He never looks like he’s doing an audition for Sesame Street.

  32. I second Herrick above, and wonder if you’re precise in calling the New America Foundation liberal. I notice on its home-page that it prominently features an op-ed by Maya MacGuineas endorsing tax reforms that Bush’s panel called for, and NAF is also home to Joel Kotkin, who seems like a Friend of Reason to me.

  33. Re the snarky tone: those beknighted announcers simply try to emulate the BBC readers–and yes, it is lower than condensending—but that is why NPR requires taxpayer support.

    I simply can’t believe Atrios would be so stupid to try to generate statistics–all you have to do is LISTEN to NPR, the Diane Rehm Show, Lisa Mullen of the world, and understand that wouldnt know their left arm pit from their anus.

  34. Not that anyone asked for my opinion, but I think there’s a huge difference between NPR’s Washington-based news shows, i.e., All Things Considered and Morning Edition, which are pretty darned professional, and all the other junk that makes its way onto the (let’s not forget) locally programmed stations.

  35. …and to the a**hole that’s thinking of lecturing me about “whom”: stfu.

    You mean “the a**hole who’s thinking” of lecturing you? 🙂

  36. Apparently I must get a different NPR out here in the flyover Midwest. Why, this evening’s drive home featured a “fair and balanced mix” of offsetting viewpoints from the left-wing NY Times and the ultra-conservative, right-wing hack, E.J. Dionne discussing how the President’s latest speeches were only good in that he finally admits he lied to get us into war.

    And I always smile when the wife leaves the radio on in the morning and I get to hear that Rush Limbaugh wannabee, Peter Overbee (who’s always so excited to share his latest conspiracy story that he’s literally slobbering on the floor with his words).

    Right-wing indeed!

  37. Am I the only one who cringes whenever NPR talks about poor people and then plays some banjo music or Pete Seegarish-type rural “folk” music to show how “caring” they are? I also hate their phoney background sounds (like clattering plates for restaurant worker subjects).

    Talk about condescending and stereotyping!

    Blech. I hate NPR.

  38. Yah. I was driving home today and waiting for NPR to report on the Iraqi election. I got three minutes of discussion about voting in Falluja, which had been ‘invaded’ and (leveled?) by the US less than a year ago and the explanation that the high turnout was evidence that the Iraqis wanted the US to leave immediately.

    There was no other discussion. This was at 3PM EST, I think.

    Yup, totally rightwing bastards.

  39. In any other country where the government funds the radio station, the station is slavishly pro-government.

    Just how did we get so lucky to have the opposite?

    Let Air America buy NPR and end the government subsidy.

  40. Talk all you want about NPR’s bias – but if any of this results in Car Talk or Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me disappearing, I’m going to mess someone up.

  41. “I also hate their phoney background sounds (like clattering plates for restaurant worker subjects).”

    What are you talking about? The sound effects are the best part of those stories!

  42. Even if they do quote conservatives more (which they apparently don’t) what’s to say that it isn’t just to eviscerate the person who they’re quoting?

    Someone finally said it: NPR is so busy setting up their straw men and stereotypes that of course they mention the right more than their own ilk.

    They simply need fodder.

    I’ve been chuckling at these biased clowns for twenty years for just this reason.

    But as long as they invoke Edward R. Murrow, well, that certainly makes up for the viscious slant.

  43. Am I the only one who cringes whenever NPR talks about poor people and then plays some banjo music or Pete Seegarish-type rural “folk” music to show how “caring” they are? I also hate their phoney background sounds (like clattering plates for restaurant worker subjects).

    Talk about condescending and stereotyping!

    Heh. Count me in. The most condescending Nazi Pinko Radio elements are those predictable snippets of music that subtly tell us just how to think about the preceeding propaganda.

    Not All Things Considered, indeed. And to think they take themselves seriously.

  44. Counting/tracking bias at NPR is pointless — nothing will ever come of it. De-funding NPR is wishful thinking — it won’t happen any time soon.

    Instead, let’s embrace the idea and push for a desperately-needed Radio Free America.
    (I’m being facetious. The market is doing a pretty good job, as usual.)

  45. NPR is great on some human interest and cultural stuff – but, well, I’ve been listening most of my adult life and it is so biased, condescending, and unaware of people who live a different life that I don’t see how they report well. (All Christians, for instance, are suspect, except for those from really odd, really unusual sects.) And when are they going to retire the officious, hypocritical, sneering Daniel Schorr. I’m glad they treat age with respect, but they seem to actually think he is wise. Years alone do not buy wisdom.

    On the other hand, it is better than the local alternative station my children listen to because their various boyfriends have broadcast on it – its about the only place their bands get airplay. Besides local bands, that one has Hightower (even Austin, I think, doesn’t play Hightower), the BBC and Pacifica. While they go to the public for money, at least the government isn’t supporting them.

  46. “The worst thing about NPR is not the liberal bias, it’s the smug, condescending tone of voice used by all the announcers. What broadcasting school teaches that or does NPR teach it in-house?
    Comment by: NoStar”

    At most radio station you’ll have a signal processor attached to the talent’s microphone; on that processor, there are buttons labelled “Top 40”, “sports talk”, “NPR”, and the like.

    The talent working at NPR has the same type of voice as your garbageman… you just press a button, and VOILA! Snooty!

    (are you SURE I’m joking? *chuckle*)

  47. Technically an a**hole is not a person, so it’s OK to use “that.”

  48. Heh! Try to stop using it!

  49. I’d call it right-wing bias on NPR. Any radio network that could so eagerly oppose the toppling of Saddam’s fascist regime is ultra-right-wing.

    It’s true they all used to be liberal Democrats at NPR. Now they’re just Democrats frozen in 1985, so conservative they don’t want anything to change — not Saddam’s repression, not the dying Social Security program, not anything.

    Oh, they will fight for one liberal cause, the right to abortion. But that right hasn’t been threatened for 20 years.

    NPR is soooooo conservative they don’t dare consider a new liberal idea that might help the helpless or free the world. NPR’s question always is, How can we do this the old way?

  50. But c’mon, liberal or not, what other station are you gonna find someone like terry gross on? I mean c’mon, the lady intimdates Gene Simmons out the fucking ass, she can get down with Iggy Pop or the voice of spongebob, and write a fucking thesis on any of her topics.

    Fresh Air rules.

    Also, I wouldn’t know how to pronounce Eugene Volokh’s last name without NPR.

    (And the carpet humper is onto something. This board seems to be filled with people who don’t like to be under the thumbs of others, should it be any different for your physique?

    Why pay money to a gym or trainer when you can do pushups, crunches, squats and other “carpet humping” techniques at home and get a good build.

    We should also respect the man’s sexual choices, as many of us so often complain about others not doing for gays/trannys/bigamists. Its not that unusual. Where do you think the term “shag” came from anyways?)

  51. Wow jared, that is the first defense of the carpet humper I have ever seen on this site. I applaud your courage for taking an unpopular stance on this issue.

  52. National Proletarian Radio?

    Nazi Pinko Radio?

    And to think I always thought NPR stood for ?Not Particularly Relevant?.

    Silly me.

    Whiskey Jim

  53. I don’t think the point was to prove right-wing bias on NPR, so much as to shoot down the accusation that NPR suppresses conservative viewpoints. There are a lot of people, like Doug Fletcher above, who don’t need no numbers or studies or nuffin, and JUST KNOW that NPR systematically squashes any political viewpoint beyond the UC Berkeley Sociology Department.

  54. …and the channel switcher for me is, “…and I’m Mee-shell Nor-ris.”

    Aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!

  55. NPR carries the BBC because it’s so “objective and respected.”

    Do we have a count of liberal to conservative commentators on BBC News?

    And how about NPR and BBC own commentators or interviewers. Almost all seem to me liberal or even further left. Do we have a count on them. Listeners might be interested to know about the political orientation of those folks.

    Good post and thread.

    John
    http://www.johnincarolina.com

  56. For me the channel switcher is when Mandalit del Barco, who talks in a straight middle-american accent, suddenly become Charo when she pronounces her name.

    “Born in Lima, Peru, to a Peruvian father and Mexican-American mother, Mandalit grew up in a small town in Kansas and in Oakland, California.”

    Ummm, if you were born in Peru, and your mother was Mexican, wouldn’t she have been a “Mexican-Peruvian” mother?

    Sort of like the “African-American Africans” line…

  57. Talk all you want about NPR’s bias – but if any of this results in Car Talk or Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me disappearing, I’m going to mess someone up.

    Sing it brother. There is no question that public NPR (and PRI which is different but I don’t bother to keep track of which is which) and PBS produce a lot of awful awful stuff. But the best of what they produce is the best that is produced. How I wish the class of 94 had put an end to all state funding of all art and entertainment. I totally agree with my fellow libertarians that no tax dollars should flow into NPRs coffers. That’s why I send them my own money. It’s a myth that public radio and television’s existence depends on government funding. I for one would double my contributions if they got off the public dole.

    Oh and the nails on the chalk board?
    I’m Diane Rehm

  58. I listen to NPR religiously, and I have noted they tend to quote conservative sources much more these days, but it’s hardly right wing. As noted above, the Washington shows are of a different stripe than the other stuff, especially “Marketplace”, the most laughably non-business “business show” there ever was.

    “…tonight we check in with Amanda Huginkiss, who’s waitressing her way across America and sends in her latest dispatch from the working poor.”

    Diane Rehm is an old bat. I can’t stand to wait on her drawn out pronunciations, I swear there must be someone hand cranking her windpipe.

    Despite this I love NPR — it’s entertaining in the same way as Rush Limbaugh. What I want to know is, is the NPR feed on satellite radio devoid of the pledge drives and once an hour reminders to mail in your pledge? If so, what do they use to fill in the dead air?

    This is important, only a few shopping days left before the solstice celebration.

  59. “And when are they going to retire the officious, hypocritical, sneering Daniel Schorr. I’m glad they treat age with respect, but they seem to actually think he is wise. Years alone do not buy wisdom.”

    Heavens, yes! Few things about the MSM illustrate their stuck-in-the-Seventies editorial slant than commentaries by fossils like Daniel Schorr, Andy Rooney, and Studs Terkel. Editorializing the news is bad enough, but if they’re going to do it I wish they would have it done by somebody who has had a new idea during the last thirty years.

  60. Zarba, “He’s not only the first African-American to win a medal in the Winter Olympics; he’s the first African-American FROM ANY COUNTRY to win a medal in the Winter Olympics.”

  61. Thanks for all the reasoned discussion of NPR’s faults. Now how about something positive for those of us who would like a news source that isn’t particularly biased or thats biased but overtly so.

  62. The ombudsman quotes an NPR reporter who did a story about the Pentagon’s purchase of media coverage in Iraqi media (a listener had complained that the story quoted someone from a conservative think tank without giving that person’s sinister right-wing, government background):

    “using a lone conservative was not merely justifiable in the story, it was necessary for balance. Out of four sources whose voices were heard in that story, two were critical of the military’s policy of planting news stories in Iraqi papers, and a third was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talking about Iraq’s ‘free media’ before news of the program was disclosed. To neglect a point of view of a significant segment of the public, and certainly a significant segment of defense analysts, would slant the story.”

    This is their idea of balance: Selecting a story which focuses on something questionable which the Pentagon did, quoting two sources who criticized the Pentagon, adding a quote from Rumsfeld which appears ironic in retrospect, and then interviewing a single pro-Pentagon source, and a listener thinks this was too right-wing!

  63. I had to laugh – I make a take-off of “NPR News” called “PR Gnus” that consists of NPR broadcasts edited-up to change what the newsreader’s saying (“From PR Gnus in Washington, I’m charged with arson of a building…” etc). PR Gnus is played on about a dozen weirdo radio stations, usually as part of one of those Flying-Saucer Death Kult programs.

    Anywho, to make the shows I have to listen to a lot of NPR news shows *very* carefully, and my conclusion was that they have a left-wing bias, but that they try hard to hide it. On the other paw, one of the guys who plays PR Gnus on his show thinks NPR is part of the Big-Bidness Right-Wing Conspiracy.

    Here’s a sample:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~northwind4/bd_PR_Gnus1254.ogg

    (ogg is an open-source variant of mp3; you can play it with most modern versions of WinAmp (etc), or get a plugin from various places.)

  64. To be fair, despite hurting my eyes in the aforementioned eye-rolling over NPR, I do listen fairly regularly during the morning and evening commutes. The fact is, slanted or not, it beats the tabloid morning news and the ranting call-in shows in the evening. I prefer books on tape (the Teaching Company rules) and also listen to sports news and even, sometimes, music, but NPR shows up on my dial pretty often. Besides, my only national interview was on NPR back in 1997 (I was on a copyright law panel for a symposium at Ohio State–back when I was an “intellectual”), so I must “show the love” 🙂

  65. I wrote to the NPR Ombudsman:

    You count “right” and “left” think tank citations. One need not split hairs over which is which, because, that’s the wrong yardstick for fair representation. Rather than the citation, it is the reporter’s wording and emphasis that misrepresents what is worth understanding to develop a more accurate map of reality upon which to base decision-making. All it takes is a transcript and a yellow highlighter to see NPR’s underlying problem.

  66. I can’t stand NPR. I hate the always banal “a day in the life” or whatever the hell show it is that has sound effects accompanying some idiot’s rambling life story.

    Oh, and “Wait Wait don’t tell me” is ghastly. Just wrong.

    I do like Prairie Home companion, if only for the fact that they frequently feature Leon Redbone.

  67. Oh, and the word, ‘media’, is plural. Media ‘are’, not media ‘is’.

    And Promethia, I must have missed your post earlier. I concur.

  68. Ginny: “All Christians, for instance, are suspect, except for those from really odd, really unusual sects.”

    That’s because they’re cute and harmless. All the rest are just scary. Ooo-oooh!

    Joe: “…and the channel switcher for me is, ‘…and I’m Mee-shell Nor-ris.'”

    I was going to say the same thing except I couldn’t figure out how to spell it to give the right emphasis. How pretentious does that sound?

    Pro: “…I do listen fairly regularly during the morning and evening commutes. I prefer books on tape … and also listen to sports news and even, sometimes, music, but NPR shows up on my dial pretty often.”

    I just want to see your car. I haven’t seen a dial radio in a car in years. 🙂 Does it have vaccuum tubes, too?

  69. kcom, funny you should notice the “dial”. I typed it, then thought, “Maybe I should change that to LED display”. But I like using anachronisms, see 🙂 I still “dial” phone numbers, too.

  70. “Talk all you want about NPR’s bias – but if any of this results in Car Talk or Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me disappearing, I’m going to mess someone up.”

    How does this comment skate by on a libertoid board without someone pointing out that the shows people actually want to listen to will get picked up by other outlets?

  71. Just like a libertarian to decry the use of a collective noun.

  72. Hmmm–I do see a trend emerging here–many of us listen to NPR, understand it it is more f**ked up than Hogan’s Goat, but love it because (1) it is the epitome of liberal fatuousness (2) it has Tom and Ray of Car Talk (3) and Garrison Keiler occasionally has good performers you can’t hear any where else–Plus: it makes us nauseous by the time we get to work so we have acid build up; it makes us crave a drink of alcohol when we get home to take the taste of ATC out of our mouths, and we secretly support it because we wouldnt have anything to laugh at, now that the NYT times is charging us to read MoDo. Is this an American institution OR WHAT? And yes–Daniel Schorr is the poster boy for alzheimer’s research.

  73. NPR used to highlight the fact that it could be found on the left side of the dial. They try a little harder to make the bias less obvious now. One of their pet tricks is to lead with the Democrats’ response to some initiative or speech of the president. Another is to have the Democrats speak, while the Republican position is droned by the announcer.

  74. sbw – I don’t know about reporter bias, but the shows I hear most often are interview/panel discussion shows where the host asks questions and then the guest (or guests) answer at great length. If the host has a bias it doesn’t matter because the guests do most of the talking and my impression is that the guests they invite aren’t preponderantly either right or left.

    JDM – and my (liberal) response to that would be that those shows – Car Talk and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, would never have been picked up by the risk-averse, bottom-line-oriented, for-profit media. Same goes for Sesame Street.

  75. Official Libertarian Disclaimer: I oppose funding NPR and PBS, because I believe the free market can handle my radio and TV needs. I further oppose government-generated nonsense as a general proposition.

    That’s a small “l” up top, though it looks like a big “L”. And yes, I can listen to NPR and oppose it. Just like I watch rockets go up and oppose (politically and often technically) a great deal of what NASA is doing.

  76. “How does this comment skate by on a libertoid board without someone pointing out that the shows people actually want to listen to will get picked up by other outlets?”

    You mean like highly-rated “Freaks and Geeks,” which got cancelled because its very large audience wasn’t the right demographic to appeal to marketers?

  77. Mark and Joe,

    A) My point is just that no one took the libertarian boilerplate response yet; you two aren’t the ones I’d expect to take it. Though no, I wouldn’t disagree with anyone who did

    and

    B) In the real world, outside of your heads, privately financed programming of all kinds is expanding at an exponential rate. So I’ll just let the argument rest on principle here, rather than wasting time looking up what actually happened to “Freaks and Geeks” (as opposed to the conveniently skewed liberal factoid presented by joe) or playing “would not/would so” for 20 posts with Mark over the counterfactual arguments we’ve both presented.

  78. I listen to NPR religiously but it’s not because I particularly enjoy it.

    It’s like Daiquiri Ice at Baskin Robbins. Once you get a taste of it, the other stuff available just isn’t anywhere up to snuff. Should I rather listen to Power Ninety-Whatever? Should I rather listen to Magic Ninety-just a bit more? Should I listen to the DJs ask callers to hold on, we’ll have psychic Madame Joneseti on in just a minute?

    Yes, NPR sucks.

    But it’s still better than anything else on the dial.

  79. i don’t listen to npr too much as i need the classical music station to keep me from erupting in a rage whenever i’m on the highway.

    however, and maybe this is unique to my local affiliate, every evening on the drive home they air Marketplace which seems to be all about business and what’s good for it – not a bunch of leftish stuff. it’s a great show and i find it extremely educational.

    maybe conservatives should come up with an good alternative. rush? hannity? savage? that’s the crap on the “conservative” station. give me npr over that nonsense anyday.

    why does it take a liberal station to air a show like Marketplace anyway? you’d think a conservative station would be all over a show like that. nope – just screaming loons.

  80. Do you have any reference, joe? I know that Freaks and Geeks was critically acclaimed, but I thought their ratings were awful (partially due to the inital timeslot).

  81. I’m able to stomach Robert Siegel pronouncing his name like it’s a rare and wonderful cultural experience by visualizing the ballooning of a large bullfrog just before the croak. I think it’s the slight yet portentious pause between “see” and “gull” that triggers the gag reflex in most.

  82. “So I’ll just let the argument rest on principle here, rather than wasting time looking up what actually happened to “Freaks and Geeks” (as opposed to the conveniently skewed liberal factoid presented by joe) or playing “would not/would so” for 20 posts with Mark over the counterfactual arguments we’ve both presented.”

    Wow, JDM has such an astounding level of intellectual honesty, and is so certain of the correctness of his position, that he will neither look into the facts of a situation, not engage in counterfactual speculation.

    That is impressive.

  83. That isn’t possible, Jaybird. If there was anything of value on NPR, for-profit stations would provide it, too.

    There is not a $10 bill on the sidewalk. No, there isn’t. There isn’t!

    Sigh. Look, The Market works by Supply and Demand…didn’t you take Econ 101?…

  84. Rich Ard,

    What happened was that the show was given lousy timeslots, moved, and was often pre-empted. It managed to develop respectable ratings despite the circumstances, but not as high as a show needs to have to be continued, and among an undersireable demographic.

    Basically, the tests showed that the show had its highest appeal among a demographic cohort that wasn’t terribly appealing in terms of selling ad revenue, so the show wasn’t given the time slot and promotion that shows the networks are behind typically receive.

  85. “he will neither look into the facts of a situation, not engage in counterfactual speculation.”

    It’s fun to argue with joe, because you don’t have to make new arguments, you just need to keep pointing out that he’s just continually misunderstanding or misrepresenting your old one.

    I won’t “look into the facts” because the “fact” you presented –

    “Freaks and Geeks,” which got cancelled because its very large audience wasn’t the right demographic to appeal to marketers”

    Is, in all likelyhood, false.

    In fact, someone just said that the real reason was that the ratings weren’t “as high as a show needs to have to be continued.” Strangely, it was you.

    I don’t need to go around and around with Mark, because we’ve both already said what we think, and everyone knows the path the argument will take anyway, and I doubt either of us is that interested in it.

    And again, I was just saying a comment I would expect was missing. There could be an interesting discussion about that, (maybe not) but if no one wants to take it up, oh well, such is life.

  86. joe,

    You’re the one asserting that “Freaks & Geeks” got cancelled despite the fact that it had a very large audience. So prove that, or accept what JDM points out – the claim is most likely false.

    “Sigh. Look, The Market works by Supply and Demand…didn’t you take Econ 101?…”

    Wait a second, let me see if I’ve got this right… You scoff at the concept of supply and demand economics, which has been repeatedly shown to be a reliable model, while considering your current set of shamanistic beliefs and practices about city planning to be authoritative? Hmmm…

  87. Robert Sea-Gull I can live with, but “and I’M ME-chelle Norris” is worse than fingernails on the chalkboard.
    Eric Alterman today sites this study as proof that there’s no leftwing bias in the media. That automatically nullifys the study.

  88. A few years ago a radio station I liked switched to an all-Spanish format. Not having learned Spanish, I tried some other stations including the local PBS/NPR station.

    After a few weeks I noticed that not only was their slant on the news biased toward the left, but what they chose as news was also biased toward the left. Most of their ‘news’ fell into certain broad categories. Such as:
    Exploitation of workers.
    Exploitation of women and children.
    Exploitation of the environment by Big Corporations.
    Oppression of races and ethnic sub-groups.
    Political corruption (emphasis on red states).
    Failings of the health care industry.
    Inadequate public funding of education.

    After a couple of weeks it was like hearing the same broadcast over and over again. I’d had enough. Happily, I found the local library carried the Recorded Book editions of Patrick O’Brian’s novels.

  89. You know, I have wondered what would happen if Congress finally zapped NPR. Would other stations try to pick up the audience? I think the answer would be yes, in part, though I’m not sure how big a share we’re talking about.

  90. I submit that if one were a left-leaning NPR commentator, one would have very little difficulty consulting one’s friends, colleagues, hell, coffee table for new and interesting sources for lefty viewpoints. The other side of that coin is that when one is a left-leaning NPR commentator, one is at a loss as to where to discover more conservative viewpoints. What’s the natural reaction? “Let me see, I’ll consult my handy list of people who think That Way. Good thing they keep them all corralled up in think tanks. Whatever would good, Left-leaning NPR commmentators do without those great centralized concentrations of conservatives?”

    As you can see, I’m implying that when immersed in a culture (leftism or rightism) one can find it very difficult to really discover the other side’s views, except through “official channels.”

  91. Even if they do quote conservatives more (which they apparently don’t) what’s to say that it isn’t just to eviscerate the person who they’re quoting?

    I’ve heard a number of stories on NPR where the format is to frame the story in a manner that suggests some (often moderate) liberal bias, throw in a conservative (or very occasionally libertarian) counter-sound bite introduced along the lines of “but not everybody agrees”, then return to the story as presented. Not all, just many.

  92. And Marketplace is PRI, not NPR. It just gets broadcasted a lot on NPR stations.

  93. And, um, incidentally, PRI is at least one model for a private version of NPR. “Private” doesn’t always mean “commercial”, that’s just a bad mental shortcut people across the political spectrum sometimes make.

  94. And hey, aside from having to wait to make each post, writing just a sentence or two a post is kinda fun

  95. I’ve heard a number of stories on NPR where the format is to frame the story in a manner that suggests some (often moderate) liberal bias, throw in a conservative (or very occasionally libertarian) counter-sound bite introduced along the lines of “but not everybody agrees”, then return to the story as presented. Not all, just many.

    Very astute. It is not the bulk time given to the viewpoint, but the “set” of the piece. A good writer or producer can fashion a piece that is outwardly unbiased in appearance, but that nevertheless successfully supports a specified point of view. That’s one reason that “equal time coverage” is a ridiculous suggestion for eliminating bias. Way back in high school AP Government I was assigned to present an argument that I entirely disagreed with (I know, the intent is to teach good logic and gain a strong knowledge of all viewpoints) but I really couldn’t bear to give a straight endorsement of that view. So I crafted a great speech in support of the offending measure in the general style of a well-known fascist dictator of the 1930s and ’40s. I did such a good job that no one could bring themselves to agree with the viewpoint after I was done with it. I believe it had something to do with government-provided health care insurance, if I recall correctly.

  96. Long thread; I apologize if this was mentioned already, but there are more scientific ways to try to measure the ideological bent of various media outlets.

    Tim Groseclose of UCLA and I have a recently published study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that rates NPR’s Morning Edition based on what groups are cited as objective expert sources (not just think tanks). Morning Edition is fairly mainstream and liberal; comes out looking like a conservative democrat in Congress terms of what sources are cited (e.g., Hollings).

    The criticism here about limiting citation counts to think tanks are right on… In contrast, our analysis takes into consideration that groups are cited for reputational and ideological reasons, and we consider about 200 different groups in our analysis.

    A pre-publication pdf version of the study is available at my website, just search on Milyo and A Measure of Media Bias.

    We also reference several other studies of media bias that might be of interest to some posters here.

  97. Don’t forget that 3 out of every 4 broadcasts of Morning Edition or All Things Considered must have a story on the doings in Israel and their continued subjugation of the Palestinians. I can think of a better uses of my tax dollars.

  98. And Marketplace is PRI, not NPR. It just gets broadcasted a lot on NPR stations.

    yeah i know. i’d still like to know why the local conservative station doesn’t carry such a show like the npr station does as opposed to housing a stable full of raving loons. you’d think such a station would be all over the market & business news of the day.

    such examples lead me to believe that left leaning media outlets are less biased than their right leaning counterparts.

    again, i prefer the classical station to any of them.

  99. Did someone mention Terry Gross? I remember listening to her interview Bill O’Reilly. Previously, she had interviewed some major lefty like Al Franken, and was practically falling all over herself asking puffball questions, but then with O’Reilly, she suddenly turned into Ms. Tough-Guy Attack Journalist. O’Reilly finally walked out on her. Yes, I know O’Reilly is an annoying, bloated, pompous windbag, but even so, I thought he deserved better.

    Fresh Air? Feh.

  100. A few years ago a radio station I liked switched to an all-Spanish format.

    Slainte, are you a WHFS refugee?

  101. joe – I don’t really know about Freaks & Geeks, and I won’t argue the facts of the events, but I’d like to point out that the customers of a radio station are the advertisers, not the listeners. So you can’t really claim that the radio station is failing its customers when it takes off a popular show, if the listeners aren’t the eyes/ears the customer wanted. Not exactly warm and fuzzy behavior, I agree, but not market failure either.

    “Remember, when it comes to commercial TV, the program is not the product. YOU are the product, and the advertiser is the customer.”
    — Mark W. Schumann

  102. Did you hear Melissa Block interview Donald Rumsfeld on “All Things Considered” this afternoon? After about a dozen doom-and-gloom questions about the successful Iraq elections, Rumsfeld suggested she ask how it was possible Iraq made so much progress so fast.

    Block shot back that “the majority of Iraqis still want U.S. forces to withdraw quickly.”

    Rumsfeld was too polite to point it out, but what Block said is not true. The recent ABC News poll found that while most Iraqis want the U.S.-led coalition forces out as soon as their army and police are ready, only 26 percent want coalition forces out “now,” and only 19 percent more want coaltion forces out immediately after their new government is formed. That adds up to 45 percent — not a majority.

    Nice job, Melissa. Tell us the Iraqis want us out quickly, and maybe we’ll get out too quickly. Is it that NPR can’t stand liberation?

  103. Fuck NPR. These are the assholes who are regularly at the top of the Arbitron ratings in many communities and still have the slippery brass balls to come whining with their hands out every year while lobbying Congress to keep their subsidized share of the radio pie. They also treat libertarians and conservates like shit. So fuck em. Let ’em go out there and sell ads like everyone else.

  104. Is it me or do any of the rest of you hate the condescending name “ALL Things Considered”?

    Some things? Yeah, sure.
    A few things? Okay.

    But all? Give me a freakin’ break. It’s a one hour show.

  105. “Notrious”?

    I’m a captive of the porn lobby.

    Comment by: SY at December 15, 2005 08:04 PM

    Si, SY.
    (Help! SY and juan are being lapped-danced upon here in cyberspace!)

  106. “kcom, funny you should notice the “dial”. I typed it, then thought, “Maybe I should change that to LED display”. But I like using anachronisms, see 🙂 I still “dial” phone numbers, too.”

    Yeah, me too. 🙂

  107. In fairness, I think “All Things Considered” is meant to be read as “We’re open to talking about all sorts of topics, including various kinds of stories you wouldn’t expect to see on your typical evening news broadcast” rather than “We are omniscient.” An “all ages” concert is not one in which the audience is guaranteed to contain at least one person of every age.

  108. JD, you may not be able to argue that the radio station is “failing its customers” in an economic sense, but you can certainly argue that it’s failing its listeners. This is my point – the assertion that the market is a good reflection of the public’s choice doesn’t stand up, because the market works by the principle “one dollar one vote,” not “one man one vote,” and therefore, some listeners are more equal than others.

  109. rob, JDM, if you cheapen your arguments by ignoring the context of events, I guess that’s your decision.

  110. joe – I notice you still haven’t offered any proof regarding your “Freaks & Geeks” example. I motion the court of HNR opinion for a dismissal of the charge that “F&G” was cancelled for the reasons joe claims.

    “This is my point – the assertion that the market is a good reflection of the public’s choice doesn’t stand up, because the market works by the principle “one dollar one vote,” not “one man one vote,” and therefore, some listeners are more equal than others.” – joe

    What IS your point with this? I certainly have no difficulty in acknowledging that free markets are not the same as a straight one person, one vote democracy. Just because you prefer to vote with your dollars for a Mercedes doesn’t mean you have enough dollars to afford one. And it doesn’t mean you should get one thru gov’t intervention even tho you can’t afford it…

    Julian – I think you’re right about the title of “All Things Considered.” Just because they’re considered doesn’t mean they make it to the broadcast. Of course, that doesn’t meant that “All Things Considered” is any less of a target to be lampooned for its condescending, faux-omniscient tone…

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