Chris Pokes NPR

Chris Pokes at NPR’s Bias

Last month I happened to see a piece in The Hill about then-NPR CEO Vivian Schiller facing the National Press Club and asking with a straight face, “What bias?”  If you’ve been following the story, you know that Ms. Schiller’s “Moi?” was followed by the Ron Schiller (no relation), the head of fundraising, who let his mouth run about the Tea Party.  Between Ron’s up-front hatred and Vivian’s ham-fisted firing of Juan Williams, the network is now down two Schillers.  Both were encouraged to move on.  The weekly show “On the Media” followed the events up with three weeks of navel gazing (they called it soul searching, but they didn’t seem to find much).

I listen to NPR quite a bit.  I take it with a large grain of salt.  What I know that they mis-report on the gun issue leads me to question what they report on other topics, such as the economy, health care, and the federal budget.  Nonetheless, I have yet to find any radio or television coverage that provides as high a signal to noise ratio.  I have on occasion contributed to my local station, being sure to make the pledge during their music programming, and accompanying my check with a note complaining about the bias of NPR’s news coverage.

Dear OTM:

I know one area where NPR is biased. I spend a significant amount of my time thinking and writing about the positive aspects of guns. I have quite a bit of knowledge in this very narrow field (enough that I’ve been interviewed on ‘All Things Considered’), and the bias at NPR is palpable.

My bet is that Brooke, Bob, and Ira have not shot a firearm in the past year, if ever. I’ll risk stereotyping to speculate that their views, as well as the views of their friends and colleagues are probably better represented by organizations like the Violence Policy Center or the Brady Center than the National Rifle Association or some other pro-gun group.

I commend to you the work of Jonathan Haidt ( The issue of guns is a “tribal-moral” issue in the sense that Dr. Haidt uses it. According to that view, Brooke, Bob, and Ira are of the Northeastern Media tribe, while I am of the Southwestern Gun-Owning tribe. The Northeastern Media sometimes refers to my tribal group as “gun-toting” — any hint of bias in that language?

Not only do I hear stories that portray guns and gun owners in a negative light, I don’t hear stories that mention the positive aspects. I can’t recall any mention on NPR of successful civilian defensive uses of guns. It happens, but I’d never know it if I only listened to NPR.

I can’t recall ever hearing an NPR report on competitive shooting except maybe for a rare Olympic story. The National Matches held every summer at Camp Perry, Ohio typically draw thousands of participants, yet I’ve never heard coverage. I suspect you might cover a golf tournament of that scale.

In the narrow field of firearms, I have enough independent knowledge to know that the NPR bias exists. On other topics where I have less knowledge, I can only assume that the same bias is present.

Chris Knox

I sent a similar note directly to their letters address, but saw no response to this or that direct note.