NPR Is “Fair”: Conservatives And Media Critics Defend NPR's Reporting

Media critics and conservative commentators are responding to the recent controversy over NPR by praising the network's reporting. In addition, some Tea Party activists say that NPR's coverage of their group has been “fair.”

Conservative Commentators Praise NPR

Blankley: NPR is “fair.” Media Matters interviewed Tony Blankley, a conservative syndicated columnist and former Newt Gingrich press secretary:

“I've been on NPR regularly for a very long time,” [Blankley] 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.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Medved: “NPR Tries Harder To Be Fair Than Just About Any Other Media Source.” Media Matters interviewed conservative radio host Michael Medved:

“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.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Reynolds: “I Have Found Them To Be Fair ... I Think NPR Does A Good Job.” Media Matters interviewed conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds:

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.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Brooks: “I thought it was really biased ten years ago, but now I think it's pretty straight.” Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on The Chris Matthews Show:

I think NPR's done a good job over the last ten years of reducing that bias. I thought it was really biased ten years ago, but now I think it's pretty straight, and the federal money for NPR doesn't so much go for the big stations. It goes so they can go out to the rural parts of the country which wouldn't have those stations otherwise. [The Chris Matthews Show, 3/13/11]

Tea Party Activists Call NPR's Coverage Of Their Group “Fair”

Tea Party Activist Katrina Pierson: NPR's Coverage Of Our Group Was “Fair.” Media Matters interviewed Dallas Tea Party official Katrina Pierson, who said that NPR was generally biased but that its 2009 profile on her particular group was “fair”:

[Media Matters] How would you describe their interactions with DTP and what are your thoughts on the reporting they produced?

[Pierson] I think NPR was very cordial to our group. They actually came to TX and spent a few days with us visiting our homes, and our work places. They attended meetings and asked questions. I enjoyed having them here. I think the reporting that they ended up using for All Things Considered, it was fair. It could have been more inclusive of the actual diversity of our group. Our founder married to a Columbian that speaks very little English. They speak Spanish in their home. I'm an african-american woman that does the neighborhood training and media appearances. And with race having been an important issue with regards to Tea Parties, I was shocked that they didn't much reporting on that topic.

The story that they did, however, we believe was as fair as we would get from such a liberal organization. [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Tea Party Activist Lisa Davis: “We Are All Very Pleased With” NPR's Story On Dallas Tea Party. In a December 11, 2009, post, conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds published a note from “Lisa Davis of the Dallas Tea Party”:

Robert Siegel, host of NPR's “All Things Considered,” was in the Dallas area last week and attended several DTP gatherings. He'd called and stated he'd like to do a story and asked if we would agree to let some of the “happenings” be recorded. “Of course” we said. “As long as you are fair.” WELL...he was! The story was on Mr. Siegel's “All Things Considered” this past Wednesday (December 9). Here's the link.

He attended our neighborhood Tea Party, Sarah Palin's book signing, a Tea Party coordinator meeting, and interviewed the founders and steering personnel. It turns out he understood that we are not only protesting and rallying, we are also educating our community. Considering that NPR has a history of being liberal organization, word is that we are all very pleased with the representation! [, 12/11/09]

Tea Party Activist Toby Marie Walker: “The Two Interviews I've Done” With NPR “Were Both Fairly Reported.” Media Matters obtained a statement from Waco Tea Party president and co-founder Toby Marie Walker, who said that NPR “is not unbiased,” but “the two interviews I've done with them were both fairly reported”:

NPR also ran a series of stories about the tea party movement after the elections, and I the two interviews I've done with them were both fairly reported. NPR staff treated me kindly; I wasn't treated any different by them than I would have been by a local radio station. I can only speak to how they have treated me, not others or other groups or individuals.

Overall, I would say that when working with individuals in the movement they have been fair, but they have overall treated the tea party movement unfairly (would they post a sexual slur about OFA on their website?). I hope I can do other interviews or segments on NPR in the future, it helps us to reach a different demographic. [Media Matters, 3/14/11]

Medved: NPR's Tea Party Coverage “Is More Fair Than What You Tended To Get On Network News.” Asked about NPR's Tea Party coverage, conservative radio host Michael Medved told Media Matters: “It is more fair than what you tended to get on network news.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Media Critics Praise NPR: “The Best Radio News In America.”

Auletta: NPR tries to “present the news with real fairness and balance.” Media Matters interviewed New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta:

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.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]

Rainey: “NPR generally represents both sides of an issue.” Media Matters interviewed Los Angeles Time media writer James Rainey:

“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.” [Media Matters, 3/11/11]