I’ve been thinking about the reflection on NPR that Robert Miller contributed to Liberty, several weeks ago.
I listen to NPR (KUOW-Seattle) when I'm driving — and when it doesn't annoy me with its bias. Bias is not the same as lies. The stories seem real enough. But NPR and its local affiliate show their bias by professionally reporting stories of particular interest to progressive Democrats.
Some are stories of interest to everyone, but many are of particular interest to them. I can recall no stories of particular interest to people on the right, or that make a rightwing point. They present the world progressives care about, and define the issues as progressives define them — honestly and professionally. Once a story is defined, they can follow the rules of objectivity, but the result is still biased.
The stories seem real enough. But NPR and its local affiliate show their bias by professionally reporting stories of particular interest to progressive Democrats.
On the issue of immigration, for example, it's all about the fate of asylum-seekers and "undocumented" people. I can't recall any explanation of why it might be good or in the American interest to control who comes into the country, or to consider the problems of people trying to do that. If they report about the homeless encampments, it's interviewing the homeless, or social workers or politicians sympathetic to them, and it is about how to help the homeless. If the subject is the workplace, it's about how sexist it is, or some other bad condition, and how to change it. If it's money in politics, it's about how bad it is, and the need to repeal Citizens United. If it's about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it's about how great she is. Never a story like that about Clarence Thomas, or about the Constitution from an "originalist" view. If it's about bakers who refuse to decorate a wedding cake for a gay couple, it's a story entirely about gay rights. Not the bakers' rights.
On and on. The bias is real, and it is not subtle. I still listen to my NPR station, because my drive to the library (for research on a book) is not very far, and if it really annoys me I can take my chances on a classic rock station. But it does occur to me that NPR is the kind of radio I would listen to a lot, and maybe even contribute to, if it had at least some of the world as seen through the eyes of people like me.