New York Times media reporter Elizabeth Jensen reported on new NPR CEO Gary Knell on Monday without devoting one word to conservative NPR critics in a piece loaded with public-broadcasting officialdom. The Times is clearly reporting from inside the NPR tank.
But Jensen did find time to quote the radical-left Noam Chomsky lovers at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) from October 7: "The media watchdog group...criticized Mr. Knell earlier when he said he wanted to 'depoliticize' the public broadcasting debate. The group has called such efforts 'code for appeasing public broadcasting’s conservative enemies by adding more right-wing content and censoring things they may not like.'” Jensen also sounded the tinny arf of a lapdog by utterly avoiding any mention of the Project Veritas "Muslim Brotherhood" video sting as she discussed people getting fired (for what?):
The last 14 months were bruising for NPR, starting with the politically controversial decision to fire the commentator Juan Williams and continuing with the departure of NPR’s top news and fund-raising executives and the chief executive, Vivian Schiller, who resigned under pressure in March.
This is sort of like the Times writing around what Jayson Blair did to ruin their image of professionalism. NPR critics would also flag Jensen for utterly avoiding NPR's funding from Bush-hating leftist billionaire George Soros, even as she mentioned what it was Soros was said to be funding:
“One of the strengths of public radio is localism,” he said. “The fact is the stations need NPR because we find these anchor programs, and NPR needs the stations for the local connectivity that they provide.”
NPR recently began a local-national partnership, StateImpact, that finances reporters in state capitals and is building systems to help local stations expand online.
Other than FAIR (and the new NPR boss, of course), Jensen only quoted Knell's old Sesame Workshop boss Joan Ganz Cooney, Mark Vogelzang of Maine Public Broadcasting, and Steve Bass of Oregon Public Broadcasting. The concept of NPR's liberal bias was mentioned only in passing:
Listeners asked him to increase programs for diverse audiences, expand online availability of NPR shows, wean the programmer off federal funds, accept donations via mobile texts, add Spanish-language pledge drives, address charges of liberal bias and increase coverage of Occupy Wall Street, secular Arab violence and “nuclear winter.”
It would have been easy to miss, and it's not quite accurate. "Listeners" to Talk of the Nation did not ask him about liberal bias, since no conservative critics of bias were allowed on air. A leftist listener demanded more bias, prompting host Neal Conan to note the audience wanted more bias: "A lot of listeners would like NPR to take advocacy positions on things like nuclear winter or global climate change or other issues."
Jensen also didn't notice that Knell said federal funding is "crucial" for public radio without noticing that NPR often goes around claiming it only gets two percent of its revenue from the federal government, which can be classified as a "lie," since NPR stations get grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which they then send back to NPR as "program fees" for their shows.
He says he believes federal financing is a crucial component of public radio’s viability. “We’re going to fight for it,” he said, a stance that did not sit well with some critics last week. Calls with several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were part of his first-week agenda.
Apparently, the editors of The New York Times don't believe in calling on "both sides of the aisle" when it comes to media bias issues. Dear Ms. Jensen: We at the MRC do have telephones, and we won't bite you if you call.