In the last several years, a number of the talking heads at Fox News have had the audacity to throw around the "bias" label, with National Public Radio (NPR) landing their ire on numerous occasions. In the wake of Ron Schiller's caught-on-camera moment, the pundits at Fox News have been firing on all cylinders, with their coverage of the video "sting" strongly painting a picture that NPR is a bias organization that leans heavily toward the left. An old proverb regarding pots and kettles certainly comes to mind here, doesn't it?
Let's compare these two organizations, shall we? NPR is a cultural output source. Most of their programming revolves around music, art, literature... you know, the stuff that establishes true culture. Their news coverage is strictly factual, reporting the events and nothing but the events, without the color commentary we typically see from other news outlets. Fox News, on the other hand, is a completely different creature. They very selectively report the stories that help them paint a broader picture, providing only the facts that aid in their brush strokes. When the facts and statistics prove that the left is correct about something, they exclude those facts and statistics from their reporting. Every ounce of their broadcasting time is filled by heavily opinionated pundits putting a right-wing spin on the events of the day... even during the few hours where they claim to be broadcasting "fair and balanced" news desk material.
Of course, if you're a fan of Fox News, you'll surely beg to differ with me here, because let's be honest: you agree with the assertions made by Fox News, and therefore, you're blind to their opinions, incapable of watching their broadcasts objectively. When you watch MSNBC, a network which doesn't hide the fact that they are liberally-bias, you roll your eyes and yell at the television, and when they present facts, you call them liars, even though you're unwilling to get off the couch, sit down at your computer, and spend some time trying to prove them wrong.
Let's get back to NPR. The reason some far-reaching conservatives believe NPR is bias can be directly tied to a subject I wrote about a few weeks ago, in an article titled The War on Intellectualism. The basic premise of the anti-NPR rhetoric is that NPR appears liberal, even though no one can actually point you toward a single comment made on-air at NPR that has any degree of liberal bias (check out this challenge presented by a fellow Newsvine columnist and try to prove that statement as false). How does NPR appear liberal? For an answer to that question, look no further than the aforementioned efforts by NPR toward cultural output. NPR dedicates a tremendous amount of their broadcasting time to covering the arts, and therefore, some conclude that they must be liberal, because only highly-educated liberal elitists would take pleasure in learning about how a djembe is made... or what a djembe even is. No one walks into a bar, slams a few quarters into a jukebox, and fires up some pan flute music, right? And for the past thirty years, we've been told with tremendous fervor that liberalism is represented by high society intellectuals who are out of touch with "real America." Therefore, NPR's intellectual broadcasts must in turn be a part of the liberal agenda, an agenda that regular people can't understand because they didn't attend some East Coast liberal university. It has nothing to do with NPR trying to broaden the minds of their listeners, so much as it's entertainment for the elite. These claims are insanity of the highest caliber, but it makes you wonder: If these folks assume that culture breeds liberalism, what then do they think breeds conservatism? A lack thereof?
As much as Fox News touts itself as being "fair and balanced," it's no secret amongst anyone with any ounce of objective reasoning that they're anything but. You might go so far as to say that Fox News is the quintessential bias network in popular media. They have to be, don't they? For a network that spends as much time slamming the "mainstream media" as they do bragging about how they top every other media outlet in ratings, and claiming to take a stand against "spin" while they themselves spin every story that they produce, they sure are quick to toss around the "bias" label. Let's not beat around the bush here. Fox News is labeling NPR as liberally-bias because they themselves are conservatively bias; it's a move that is equal parts "cover our tracks," "hide our own bias," and "criticize liberals because that's why people tune in to our network." Trying to paint it as anything less would be negligent.
A conservative once responded to one of my articles by claiming that "facts have a liberal bias." They claimed that when you take facts and statistics at face value, they always appear to support the liberal side of an argument, but if you read between the lines, or if you extrapolate those facts out for a few decades, you'll find the real truth... the hidden truth. Perhaps that's what Fox News is doing. Perhaps that network is made up entirely of people who know something about factual data that I do not. But as innocent, or as innocently ignorant, as anyone could hope to paint them, Fox News is still the most bias organization in popular media today. For their network to criticize anyone else for being bias would stand as an oxymoron of the highest order.