Conlict of Interest

I do want to expound a bit on my objection to the Public Broadcasting public/private funding model.

Imagine one day Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke walks into his office and is like “This job is bull crap! I know I have a charter from the federal government to use all the financial tools at my disposal in an impartial way but I make the same amount as that Citibank-guy-who-golfed-all-day’s executive assistant and I can now only invest in T-bills. I’m going to get sponsored!” He then dons a NASCAR suit and peppers his Fed minutes with Excedrin testimonials as the “Chairman of Headache Relief”.

Ridiculously inappropriate right?

Well this is precisely what NPR has been doing since their financial crisis in 1983; using their government supplied pedestal to hawk other wares; albeit in a manner far less gauche. Instead of acetaminophen and caffeine they compliantly push the agendas of primarily leftist advocacy groups.

These agendas may be perfectly valid just as Excedrin may be the best product for relieving headaches but both should have the same barriers to the marketplace as their alternatives.

The only option to resolve this clear conflict of interest is to either move public broadcasting to 100% public funding or defund entirely.



There are many studies like this. Many of them have better methodologies. What makes this one unique is that it comes from the journalism institution journalists respect most.

Mainstream news sources are biased and that’s okay. I believe the market is in the process of sorting this out. However there is one institution that is outside the market. I again come back to the question: Why am I compelled to fund -- with my income taxes – an overtly political organization? Why can’t an angel investor like George Soros take over NPR and make it the slightly more reasonable cousin to Air America listeners want it to be?

UPDATE: Here are the exact findings as they pertain to NPR:

NPR—Morning Edition – more time for the Democrats
Like the media overall, the first 30 minutes NPR’s Morning Edition produced more stories about Democratic candidates than Republicans (41% vs. 24%). What was different was how little negative coverage Democrats received, especially compared with all other media. Stories about a Democratic candidate were more seven times more positive than negative: 41% positive vs. 6% negative. The majority of coverage, 53% of stories, was neutral.
Looking at specific candidates, stories about Barack Obama carried a clearly positive tone two-thirds of the time. Not a single Morning Edition story was negative. Furthermore, 43% of Hillary Clinton’s coverage was positive vs. 14% negative.
Stories about one of the Republican candidates was more evenly split in tone: 30% positive to 20% negative and 50% neutral. Similar to its public broadcasting counterpart, the NewsHour, NPR devoted more attention to lesser-known candidates. Mitt Romney, the candidate running third for the GOP nomination in most national polls, was the most covered Republican figure, tied with Mike Huckabee, a mostly unknown candidate at the time. Often considered the GOP front runner, Rudy Giuliani, only had one story devoted to him and John McCain had none.
NPR was also the one outlet where there was a marked difference between the total amount of airtime vs. total number of stories. While 24% of the campaign stories were about a Republican candidate, just 15% of the total airtime was spent on them. This suggests that stories about the Republican candidates were brief, creating an even greater gap in the total coverage of Republicans and Democrats.

Update: Fox News and NPR are equally biased

By a margin of 33% to 16%, Americans say that CNN has a liberal bias. The nation’s adults say the same about NPR by a 27% to 14% margin.
There is one major exception to the belief that media outlets have a liberal bias—Fox News. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say it has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias.
When it comes to delivering news without bias, 37% believe NPR accomplishes that goal. Thirty-six percent (36%) say the same for Fox and 32% believe it’s true of CNN. As noted earlier, just 25% believe the major broadcast networks deliver news in an unbiased manner. Results for other media outlets will be released over the next week.