Marquette Warrior: Bias at PBS and NPR

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bias at PBS and NPR

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a Republican Chairman, a fellow named Kenneth Tomlinson, who oddly enough was appointed by President Clinton.

Recently, Tomlinson has been making waves by making an issue of the liberal bias of PBS and NPR.

Tomlinson commissioned one Frederick W. Mann to do a content analysis of three PBS/NPR shows, and not surprisingly, it found a strong liberal bias.

A detailed analysis of the Bill Moyers NOW show provides the following data:
  • Of 136 segments reviewed, 92 clearly opposed Bush Administration policies. Another 16 were neutral or didn’t deal with Bush policies at all.
  • During the period analyzed, a total of 67 liberals and Democrats appeared on the show, as opposed to 23 conservatives and Republicans.
  • Of the 23 conservatives and Republicans who were allowed on the air, 11 opposed Bush Administration policies.
In other words, not only were liberals overrepresented, but conservatives and Republicans appear to have been chosen because they opposed the Bush Administration.

On the Diane Rehm show on National Public Radio, the guests broke down as follows:

Total Participants: 46
Liberal Viewpoint: 22
Conservative Viewpoint: 5
Neutral Viewpoint: 14
Entertainment: 5

Having been on the Diane Rehm show outselves, we can testify about the bias. Defending the death penalty, we had to face not only two advocates on the other side, but a hostile Diane Rehm, and overwhelmingly liberal callers.

As you might expect, NPR has been strongly biased in reporting on this issue.

We heard the segment they broadcast last Friday, and they completely omitted any discussion of Mann’s data. For NPR, the issue is the “controversial” actions of Tomlinson, and not how they themselves report public affairs.

For example, they quoted NPR/PBS supporters who fussed and fumed about how Tomlinson is “politicizing” the CPB. Never mind that public broadcasting is already politicized — which is why its supporters like it.

Another liberal supporter complained about how Tomlinson had been “snooping” on newspeople on PBS and NPR. Of what did the “snooping” consist? A content analysis of what was broadcast to millions of Americans!

The Charter of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting requires it to be unbiased and nonpartisan, so Tomlinson is doing nothing more or less than try to see that the taxpayer funded organization lives up to its own mandate.

People in public broadcasting probably aren’t lying when they say they aren’t biased. They are so immersed in the liberal culture of elite journalism that they can’t see that their worldview is just one way of viewing events.

In an astonishingly honest self-examination, The New York Times has admitted to a lack of diversity of viewpoint. Don’t look for anything similarly honest from public broadcasting any time soon.


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