Wash. Post Media Critic: NPR is Liberally Biased

     Veteran Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz admitted recently what many conservatives have long argued: taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR) leans heavily to the left politically.


     “With the rise of Fox News and conservative talk radio and NPR on the left and certain liberal cable programs, there is, polls have shown, that people like hearing opinions that reinforce their own,” Kurtz said on the September 30 edition of CNN’s “In the Money.”


     The Post media critic was responding to a question from panelist Andy Serwer, who asked if media outlets were becoming identified a particular ideology or political party, like the news media in Britain traditionally have been.


     Kurtz didn’t mention NPR’s taxpayer-funded status, and the radio network’s own Web site downplays taxpayers’ role in its funding, but unlike Fox News or Kurtz’s newspaper, it is the recipient of federal tax dollars.


     “A very small percentage – between one percent to two percent of NPR's annual budget – comes from competitive grants sought by NPR from federally funded organizations, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting [CPB], National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts,” NPR’s Web site informs visitors, adding that some 13 percent of the average budget of local NPR stations comes from the taxpayer-funded CPB.


     In a December 2003 column, National Taxpayers Union (NTU) president John Berthoud noted that taxpayers chipped in $363 million to CPB’s 2003 budget.


     “The dollars flow to CPB and then to PBS and NPR (and member stations) in the form of direct handouts as well as tax deductions for contributions made by individual viewers,” Berthoud wrote, adding that CPB’s congressional appropriation had shot up “an incredible 45 percent” in four years.


     Howard Kurtz’s admission that NPR’s liberal bias appeals to a liberal audience is notable because Kurtz often has withheld passing judgment on the political agenda of left-leaning media personalities.


     For instance, in an April 3 blog posting to NewsBusters.org, the Media Research Center’s (MRC) director of media analysis Tim Graham caught how Howard Kurtz proclaimed himself “agnostic” on whether MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann used his program to advance a left-wing agenda.


     “The true test will come the next time there’s a Democratic president,” Kurtz insisted in a Washington Post online chat, although he later conceded “there’s no other daily cable show” that gives President Bush “such a hard time night after night.”


     The MRC is the parent organization of the Business & Media Institute.