David Carr Mocks Idea of 'Journalistic Independence' at Murdoch's News Corp.

New York Times media reporter and columnist David Carr discussed the surprising recent audience gains of the newly controversial National Public Radio in "Gains For NPR Are Clouded," featured on the front of Monday's Business Day section.

Carr sometimes grasps the conservative point of view on media issues, but on Monday he joined his boss, Executive Editor Bill Keller, in chiding the journalism of News Corporation, the media consortium owned by Rupert Murdoch. (Carr went after the purported conservative bias at Murdoch's Wall Street Journal in a December 14, 2009 column, "Tilting Rightward at Journal."

On Monday he described an NPR under siege while defending the necessity of publicly funded journalism against new calls for budget restraint.

It is an argument that is not just being made here, but in Europe as well, historically a sanctuary for publicly financed media organizations. In 2009 in a now notorious speech, James Murdoch of the News Corporation railed against being forced to compete with the publicly financed BBC, suggesting that "the scope of its activities and ambitions is chilling," and that the private sector was perfectly capable of informing Britons.

"The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit," he suggested.

I'll just skip the joke about a News Corporation executive talking about journalistic independence and point out that the invisible hand is not going to send a lot of reporters to far-flung conflicts or to cover hard news that is the opposite of sexy.

Carr dubiously denied NPR has an "overt political agenda," but did fault NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (caught on hidden camera calling the Tea Party racist) for playing into conservative beliefs with a lecture on wine that "reinforced every extant stereotype of NPR as a collective of wine-sipping, conservative-hating boobs drunk on their own specialness."

Many in Congress, including Mr. DeMint, have argued that NPR's serving of news comes with a heaping side dish of squishy liberal ideology. And that's true to a point. In terms of assignments and sensibility, NPR has always been more blue than red, but it's not as if it has an overt political agenda. Working in public broadcasting probably disposes you to certain kinds of government assistance - to public broadcasting, for example.

[Ron] Schiller, in his secretly taped remarks, seemed to agree, and provided plenty of ammunition for NPR's critics, even suggesting it might be better off in the long run without public money. And not only did Mr. Schiller call members of the Tea Party racists, but he followed up with a ponderous lecture on a varietal of wine - which is not a winning topic when lunching with devout Muslims, even fake ones - and thus reinforced every extant stereotype of NPR as a collective of wine-sipping, conservative-hating boobs drunk on their own specialness.