Conservative National Public Radio

It’s Sunday evening and I am listening to NPR while driving home. I am neither apologizing for this nor confessing. I listen to FM stations that carry NPR for their music programs. I listen to NPR itself for the story-telling show, “This American Life,” and for “A Prairie Home Companion.” I even listen to political programs that are locally produced and carried by NPR affiliates because it’s good for me to know what the enemy is thinking. The day of the week matters in this story because I am pretty sure the Sunday spots don’t go to stars. […] The presenter, whose name I did not catch, is interviewing on air another NPR person, a reporter who did and investigation on the topic: Does NPR have a left-wing bias? Imagine!

The presenter snickers at the sound of the name of the investigation. The reporter reports in some detail on the results of his inquiry. It turns out NPR does not have a left-wing bias at all. In fact, it’s to the right of the Wall Street Journal on some issues, he asserts. The presenter snickers.

I don’t have much of an opinion on the investigation itself. I did not hear much about the methods used except that they involved both self-identified liberals and conservatives keeping a journal. I don’t have much against this soft methodology. It’s used all the time. It’s known to be soft; it does not make it useless. I am a little perplexed by the findings because, of course, I am convinced NPR has a left-wing bias. Yet, it’s not the job of research, it should not be the job of research, to comfort our received ideas. One of the ways you know good research in the social sciences, in fact, is that it shakes trees and allows rotten fruits to fall to the ground. Continue reading