Pubcasting Battle: Sifting Through the Evidence
Nearly two months in, the initial flush of arguments defending public broadcasting has died down. All of the major players have stated their cases pro and con (see my roundups from previous weeks below), and now have begun picking apart the various claims:
- Does Public Radio Have a Liberal Bias? The Finale! —On the Media has been doing a bangup job of presenting all of the various methods for devining bias in media, including source bias, story selection bias, content analysis, listener diaries, partisanship of audience members, and more. Their conclusion? D'oh! Bias is in the eye of the beholder. That's exactly the problem, argues Trevor Burrus at conservative site The Daily Caller. All programming choices start from an embedded perspective. "Everyone sees their version of the 'tilt' as more objective than anyone else’s. The only variable is whether a group has sufficient political power to influence programming choices," he writes. Over at Forbes, Hoover Institution Fellow Henry Miller proves this point by dissecting the biases of hosts and shows.
- The Friday Podcast: Economists On Federal Funding For NPR—Meanwhile, Planet Money reporters reached out to a set of economists to find out if public broadcasting can truly be considered a "public good." Their answer? Well....maybe. Double d'oh! The Economist tweaks them for their "just-wondering drive-time voice," writing "if we use the definition of 'liberal' in the old saw, 'someone who won't take his own side in a fight,' then I think the evidence of the past few weeks is that, yes, NPR is a thoroughly liberal institution." A new fake Twitter wag, @CoweringNPR, seems to agree.
- Why Do We Keep Falling for O'Keefe's Smear Jobs?—Mother Jones' editors disputes James O'Keefe's claims to be an investigative journalist, writing " as far as we can tell the only group of journalists he has anything in common with are habitual fabricators like Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Janet Cooke."
- Ending Federal Funding For National Public Radio Would Jeopardize 9,000 Jobs—PoliFact Virginia disputes Rep. Jim Moran's (D-Va.) claim that funding restrictions would cost thousands of public radio jobs, suggesting that it wouldn't threaten any local radio jobs at all. What's more, it might just be a boon in the short term, reports Radio Ink magazine—donations are up.
- Future Obituary? Public Television, 50, Dies of Apprehensive Innocuity—Maybe none of this matters if public broadcasting has become so dull that no one wants to consume it, suggests Christopher Lukas in Current. "The system has aimed at substituting high-definition pictures for high-definition ideas, blandness and familiarity for guts and the imagination to break new ground." Radio too, writes Bill McKibben in the New York Review of Books, is "balanced to a fault—the great weakness of its news coverage has become an addiction to the Washington conventional wisdom, I suspect precisely because it’s the safest place to moor in our stormy partisan seas."
Catch up on this series of posts tracking different cases being made for and against public broadcasting:
- March 23: Pubcasting Battle: Top Five Pieces this Week
- March 17: Pubcasting Battle: Highlights and Low Blows from the Past Week
- March 9: Pubcasting Battle: Breaking Responses to Schiller's Ouster
- March 8: Pubcasting Battle: Now it Gets Ugly
- March 3: Pubcasting Battle: A Slight Reprieve, and a Push for Reform
- February 22: Defend or Defund? Advocacy Ramps up as House Nixes Pubmedia Budget
- February 14: Public Broadcasting Faces Harsh Congressional Challenges
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