Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Brief Summary of the Conservative Arguments Against NPR

(Partly inspired by this latest Cal Thomas editorial (link here), but applicable to a wide range of Conservative whining around the issue the past few weeks.)

1). NPR has a well-known liberal bias. Tax payers shouldn't have to pay for NPR because it has a liberal bias. We should cut public funding, and if liberals like NPR so much, why not just let them make up the difference out of their own pocket?

2). Aha!! Liberals are contributing to NPR. And worse yet, NPR is accepting money from liberal donors. That just proves it has a liberal bias. Therefore we should cut its budget.

And return to point number one. And round and round the circular logic goes.

I actually enjoy NPR. More because I think they do quality programing than because of any ideological slant.

Of course you should always have your eyes wide open, and know about the ideological constraints of any media you listen to. Chomsky has some very interesting stories about his own experience with NPR (link here).
[And I know I link to a lot of Chomsky stuff, but this clip is seriously worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch, especially if you listen to a lot of NPR.]

As a nominal anarchist, I should have problems with state funded media. And indeed I do have some misgivings. Government funded radio is necessarily going to reflect a certain point of view that would be different from, say radio controlled by the workers.
I think this is a reason to be skeptical of it. I don't think this is a reason for doing away with it completely, because I tend to believe the world is a richer place for having more opinions available.

From an anarchist perspective there is of course a legitimate question about whether citizens should be forced to fund government radio, and in theory this is a reasonable objection to NPR. But in practice, the commercial networks have been doing such a poor job of keeping us informed that I shudder to think how the political dialogue would suffer if we were only left with cable news and talk radio. So until we reach the anarchist utopia of citizen controlled radio, I'd just assume prop NPR up as a counterweight to the corporate controlled media.

Also, call me crazy, but I don't think NPR is all that liberal. Of course if you go through their archives with a fine enough tooth comb you can prove any point you want to (as Cal Thomas does in his column), but even then his examples are pretty weak. If these are the best examples of liberal bias he can come up with over several years, then that's saying something in and of itself.

But the intended result of this is entirely predictable. After being beat-up so much for having a "liberal bias", the head executives at NPR are going to be very careful in the future about including any information or view points that Republicans might possible disagree with. At best NPR will become totally toothless and afraind of covering any contraversial issue, and at worst they will start to shift to the right. And this I believe is the true objective of the Republican campaign against NPR.

Link of the Day
Chomsky: is Iran a threat?

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