Is National Public Radio (NPR) biased?
Ask its supporters -- many of whom are on the political left in the United States -- and they will tell you the publicly funded network is a model of balance and journalistic integrity. Ask its critics -- many of whom are on the political right – and they will tell you it is hopelessly biased in support of progressive causes.
An August 1, 2014, story on the network’s All Things Considered show on the influence of America and evangelicalism on Brazilian politics gives credence to conservative claims of bias. It is hard not to see this NPR story as being anything other than mendacious agitprop. Unbalanced, lacking in historical and legal context and factually challenged -- this story is a mess.
The charges of bias at NPR are not new. In 2011 the question of NPR’s alleged biased animated conservative news organizations after the NPR Foundation’s senior vice president Ron Schiller was caught out by Project Veritas giving voice to hard left sympathies.
The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle at the time reported:
On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying 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.”
Schiller subsequently stepped down from his post, and while NPR denied its news reporting skewed to the left, the revelations did not come as a surprise to some media watchers. The New York Times’s David Carr, observed that it was “true to a point” that NPR’s world view was formed by a “squishy liberal ideology.”
In terms of assignments and sensibility, NPR has always been more blue than red, but it’s not as if it has an overt political agenda.
Has anything changed in the past three years? The All Things Considered segment entitled “As Evangelical Clout Grows, Brazil May Face New Culture Wars” suggests the problem remains. The consequence of this bias – in this case a reflexive suspicion of evangelicals – means NPR muffed the story.