Steve Inskeep, Just Because I Listen to NPR Doesn’t Mean I Think it is Unbiased

>NPR Journalist Steve Inskeep argued, in a recent opinion article for the Wall Street Journal, that NPR does not have a liberal bias. To support his argument, Inskeep offers a single piece of evidence—conservatives listen to it. The assumption Inskeep is making is that if NPR had a liberal bias, conservatives would not listen to it. As a conservative and an NPR listener, I take exception to this line of reasoning.

There are many reasons that a conservative might want to listen to NPR: it’s convenient (they can listen on the way to work), they find Robert Siegel’s voice soothing, they enjoy the music, or they find it informative. By arguing that conservatives listen to it because it is unbiased, Inskeep is actually giving NPR less credit than I. I think conservatives listen to NPR despite its liberal bias because it has such good programming.

Of course, I have no survey data to back up my hunch, but neither does Inskeep. I can, however, speak as one who has been an avid listener of NPR for nearly two decades. NPR offers great programs, and does an excellent job of giving voice to different sides in political debates. This does not mean, however, that it is unbiased.

I will offer three examples to illustrate NPR’s liberal bias. First, none of NPR’s daytime programs—Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, On The Media, and On Point, for example—feature a conservative. Second, none of NPR’s opinion journalists—Nina Totenberg, Mara Liasson, E. J. Dionne, Ted Koppel, Brian Unger, and Michel Martin, for example—are conservative. And third, the language they decided to use to describe the two sides in the abortion debate (NPR uses pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights) reflects a liberal bias.

So, Steven Inskeep, this conservative NPR listener would like for you to know, just because I listen to NPR does not make NPR unbiased.

For more of my thoughts on NPR, see some of my posts at LearningAboutPolitics.com.

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