Despite a perception that National Public Radio is politically liberal, the majority of its sources are actually Republicans and conservatives, according to a survey released today by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a left-leaning media watchdog.
"Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge," according to a report accompanying the survey, "individual Republicans were NPR's most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance." In addition, representatives of right-of-center think tanks outnumbered their leftist counterparts by more than four to one, FAIR reported.
Citing comments dating to the Nixon administration in the 1970s, the report said, "That NPR harbors a liberal bias is an article of faith among many conservatives." However, it added, "Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR."
The study counted 2,334 sources used in 804 stories aired last June for four programs: "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition Saturday" and "Weekend Edition Sunday." For the analysis of think tanks, FAIR used the months of May through August 2003.
Overall, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 61 percent to 38 percent, a figure only slightly higher now, when the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress, than during a previous survey in 1993, during the Clinton administration.
"Some people may think is too left of center because they are contrasting it to the louder, black-and-white sloganeering of talk radio," said FAIR's Steve Rendall, a co-author of the report. "It could be that, just by contrast, the more dulcet [tone] and slower pace and lower volume of NPR makes many people think it must be the opposite of talk radio."
NPR spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn responded, "This is America - any group has the right to criticize our coverage. That said, there are obviously a lot of intelligent people out there who listen to NPR day after day and think we're fair and in-depth in our approach."
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