Some Thoughtful Responses to 'Murdoch and Liberal Bias at NPR' : NPR Public Editor From readers of my column on NPR's coverage of the bribery and phone-tapping scandal at News Corp. comes a mathematical measure of bias, discovery of Fox News in the trenches, overworked Shakespearean tragedies and a request to pass the steroids.
NPR logo Some Thoughtful Responses to 'Murdoch and Liberal Bias at NPR'

Some Thoughtful Responses to 'Murdoch and Liberal Bias at NPR'

Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive officer of News Corp., is driven from his apartment on July 12, 2011 in London, England.

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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive officer of News Corp., is driven from his apartment on July 12, 2011 in London, England.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

I wrote this week that NPR's coverage of the legal, ethical and shareholder travails confronting Rupert Murdoch and New Corp. was professional, sound and showed no signs of liberal bias.

That got people talking – especially as Murdoch this weekend faces a contentious shareholder meeting and news came out that the scandal is taking its toll on the already-strained relationship between Murdoch and son James.

Here are some of the most thoughtful (and humorous) comments, including from Facebook and Twitter:

On the Blog

Lynn S (fact_or_belief):

I'm curious how most readers would choose to define "neutral"/"unbiased" in the context of news reporting.

I have a strong math background and a lot of experience working w/ measures (including measures for non-physical constructs), and I don't see how to come up w/ a neutral point for news reporting, both because we don't have a decent measure of bias in the firstplace, and because for any chosen measure of bias, different measures of central tendency (e.g., mean, median) will likely identify different centers.

It's much more straightforward to rank reporting from more conservative to more liberal than it is to determine where "neutral" is in that range. (If this doesn't make sense to someone, consider temperature. Given two temperatures, you can consistentlydetermine which one is colder, but whether either one is below zero may depend on which temperature scale one uses: Celsius, Fahrenheit, etc. And unlike temperature, which is unidimensional, news reporting is multidimensional, which makes the issue of trying to measure bias that much more complex.)

Michael Brownholtz (MCB):

1. So what if NPR sends one of their reporters to London to cover this? I did not realize that NPR had to check in with the "news police".
2. This is a really big story. The Murdoch empire is an extremely large andinfluential one, and the issues brought up in London could easily happened here. Just look at the amount of money paid out in settlements.
3. I listened to both interviews with David Cay Johnston. He came clean about his mistake, and made certain that everyone knew that it was his responsibility. NPR was the forum used to make his erroneous claim, and NPR was the forum where he made his correction.
4. Fox News should also have stopped circling their wagons with their "us against the world" mentality. What they did in the UK was wrong. So stop trying to defend it.

Vernon Wong (vdbwong):

Why does NPR have to face charges of liberal bias against the Fox Channels and Murdoch when all of the commentators on the Fox Channels unabashedly bash Obama and all Democrats including all Liberals and Progressives. Is it because they are so clearly biased against all things Liberal that they do not face criticism? Does this make sense?


Rebecca Edgar: Bias is subjective. Using other media as a yardstick defeats any argument to the contrary, no? As does saying facts don't appeal to independents or conservatives.

Hanni Guinn: As Stephen Colbert says, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias".

Jeff Johnston: My God, the simple fact that you have to go to such great lengths to confront this meme is illustrative of the fact that the media has — if anything — a far, far right bias.

Lucien-Joseph Galloy: Really, NPR doesn't have much of a liberal bias in regards to the information that it presents, but it does tend to publish articles that are of interest to progressives more so than most news organizations.


@derekahunter: Liberal at NPR finds no liberal bias at NPR. Related: Barry Bonds finds no steroid use in Barry Bonds @SchumacherMatos

@Apinak: Instead of more liberal bias debate, look at 99% vs 1% bias. How many labor leaders on NPR? How many non-rich guests?

@publicradionerd: What's over-used isn't scandal or empire, it's "Shakespearean tragedy." Give my doctorate in it a break!