Conservatives Praise NPR's News Coverage

In the wake of the recent undercover video of NPR fundraising executives making controversial comments about the Tea Party movement and other topics, some conservative commentators and activists are speaking out, telling Media Matters that NPR's coverage has been good.

“I think NPR tries harder to be fair than just about any other media source. It doesn't mean they succeed. They do give evidence of trying,” said Michael Medved, a syndicated conservative talk radio host. “I listen almost every day to Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I think that they do as good a job as anybody in media in reporting the news.”

Medved said he opposes federal funding for NPR and added that he might donate to the network if it gave up government funding.

He also told Media Matters: “NPR is not like ABC or CBS or NBC. I think they make a genuine, constant attempt to try to play it up the middle. They have gotten much better. There were very, very serious complaints from the Jewish community some years back about coverage of Israel and I think the coverage of Israel is much more fair ... They have improved.”

Asked about NPR's Tea Party coverage, Medved said: “It is more fair than what you tended to get on network news.”

Tony Blankley, a conservative syndicated columnist and former Newt Gingrich press secretary, says he has always been treated fairly on NPR.

“I've been on NPR regularly for a very long time,” he said. “From a personal perspective they have always given me plenty of access, I am clearly a right-wing commentator so I cannot complain. There's a conservative on and there's a liberal on, so that's all fair.”

He added, “It is what their view is on what constitutes news. They are much more concerned with what is going on in the third world. That is a news judgment. For every story they run on conditions in some third world country, it is space not used for some story that we conservatives think is relevant to a conservative audience.”

Still, Blankley stressed the ability of conservatives to appear on NPR and speak their mind: “No editor or host has ever suggested, 'Could you not be quite so conservative on this show?' I have been open and free to express my opinion.”

Tea Party activists have also said they have been treated fairly by NPR.

A Dallas Tea Party official, whose organization was profiled in a 2009 NPR story, told Media Matters today that while she believes NPR is generally biased, its reporting on her group was “very fair.”

A separate Dallas Tea Party activist told conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds at the time that the group was “very pleased” with the story.

In comments to Media Matters, Reynolds added:

“There is no question that NPR generally has a leftist slant and attitude, but I have certainly gone out of my way to praise them on a number of occasions. They have done some Tea Party coverage that has been good.”

Reynolds said: “I have praised their coverage on the Nidal Hasan story, and they were ahead of the curve on that. They were on top of that. I think they do a good job, they are conscientious.”

“My own interaction with them has been fine, ” he added. “I have found them to be fair. I think their coverage is often quite good. I think NPR does a good job.”

Two of the nation's most respected media writers also found a fair and equal news approach by NPR.

“NPR generally represents both sides of an issue and tends to high journalistic standards,” said James Rainey, media writer for the Los Angeles Times. “When lawmakers on Capitol Hill, from both parties, are being candid they will tell you that they listen to NPR to get good, thorough coverage of the big issues facing the nation.”

Ken Auletta, the top media writer for The New Yorker, said, “I think NPR has the best radio news in America.”

“They do a very good news job. I don't believe they have a conscious political bias. My sense is that when I listen to NPR, I feel that they try to be fair,” Auletta added. “They try to present the news with real fairness and balance. Fox News, too often, is not fair and balanced. Private radio rarely fills the void that NPR fills, which is serious news.”

Asked about the undercover tapes, Auletta urged people to listen to NPR's actual coverage.

“If you ignore that idiot's comments and can listen to NPR, you would be much harder pressed to find a bias.”