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NPR Host Decries 'Fairness Bias' - When Media Overcompensate to Conservatives

NPR host Brooke Gladstone admits that journalists are generally more liberal than regular Americans, but she thinks they overcompensate for their bias by giving too much of a voice to conservatives. For instance, Gladstone believes conservatives do not deserve an equal voice with liberals in the global warming debate.

Gladstone, whose interview appeared on the blog of CNN's In the Arena, has voiced in the past that the media have a "tendency to bend over backwards to prove they aren't liberal." In the interview she clarified the media's over-reaction as "fairness bias."

Aren't those two words contradictory? Apparently not for Gladstone, who thinks the press can be "too fair" to conservatives in giving them more air-time than liberals, or granting them an equal voice when their argument doesn't warrant such a pedestal. According to her, this is the product of conservatives "hammering" the liberal bias of the media since the days of Nixon.

"I do not for a second advocate banning any voices from the air, but to give equal time to those who dispute say, global warming, merely muddies the water," Gladstone claimed. "The public is not served by hearing prolonged presentations of a nonsensical debate. Give them a voice, but not an equal voice. That's the same as lying in order to appear fair."

For the full interview on CNN's In the Arena blog, click here. The transcript of Gladstone's relevant remarks is as follows:

[Q:] You point out that "Journalists will bend over backward to appear balanced by offering equal time to opposing viewpoints, even when they aren't equal." What should journalists do when confronted by complex and/or politically-charged issues?

[A:] This is what I call fairness bias, which is the product of four decades of hammering - starting with the Nixon White House - that the media have a liberal bias.

It is true that journalists tend to be more "liberal" than the average American. But hyper-awareness of that fact has caused some of our most respected mainstream media outlets to bend over backwards to compensate - offering far more conservative voices than liberal ones, and according equal time to two sides of issues that are not in fact, equal.

I do not for a second advocate banning any voices from the air, but to give equal time to those who dispute say, global warming, merely muddies the water. The public is not served by hearing prolonged presentations of a nonsensical debate. Give them a voice, but not an equal voice. That's the same as lying in order to appear fair.


- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.