Brian Mann to Ken Stern: NPR isn’t in your liberal bubble

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JD Lasica/Flickr

Stern in 2007

In a New York Post article published Saturday, former NPR CEO Ken Stern said he worked among liberals while at the network and added, “When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.” His essay coincides with the publication Tuesday of Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right, a book in which Stern describes a year hanging out with conservatives. Stern’s comments in the Post didn’t sit well with public radio reporter Brian Mann, who sent us this open letter to the former CEO. (Read Stern’s reply.)

Dear Ken,

First, let me say that I’m glad that you broadened your horizons and discovered that conservative Americans are actually human. Those of us who report for public radio and for NPR who actually live in conservative areas have known as much for decades. We would have gladly filled you in over a cup of coffee if you’d asked. I’m glad you got there on your own.

Now let me set the record straight on some things. NPR doesn’t exist in the bubble you lived in. NPR and public radio writ large have the largest team of journalists and media professionals active in rural conservative areas of any media network in America. From Alaska to Colorado to Maine, Texas and upstate New York, our station reporters live and work here, as do many of NPR’s editorial staff.

Many of my colleagues at NPR are deeply knowledgeable about these communities. So am I. We grew up in these places. We went (and some of us still go) to these churches. We shop in these Piggly Wigglies and these Dollar Generals. And when we pitch complex, nuanced stories about conservative and traditional American culture, those stories are accepted, edited with care and broadcast prominently.

Key members of the board that leads NPR also come from across rural America. Some of the most dynamic leadership in our network — this is a big contrast with Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, the New York Times and almost every other media franchise — comes from small towns, from rural counties, from conservative bastions. I’m more than a little surprised you don’t know that. You worked closely with that board. Hopefully, this note will jog your memory.

Two final points.

The idea that you never grasped that NPR’s editorial process is more sophisticated than the one you describe in your essay for the Post is baffling. I’m not sure how you were spending your time when you served as NPR’s CEO. But the notion that our newsrooms fell into “groupthink” about which “stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be” is, to borrow a phrase from my part of America, pure horses—. I’ve been part of that editorial process in various ways since the mid-1980s, and my editors have been diligent, informed and intellectually curious.

Finally, I want to call you out on your fairly blatant cultural tourism. You’re not the first one to pull this stunt. For decades city folk have been pulling on a pair of suspenders and spending a few Sundays in church with The Conservatives and then writing books in which you declare yourself shocked — shocked! — to find that they read books and talk in complete sentences and think about race in America. But the fact that you’re not the only city slicker to “spend an entire year” with “the other side” doesn’t make what you’ve done any less ridiculous.

And the fact that you dragged NPR into your pre-chewed “How I learned to love the hicks” narrative, when public radio reporters have been telling conservative America’s story with care and knowledge and intimate, deep, factual reporting for decades? That’s even more ridiculous.

Brian Mann is a staff reporter with North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., and a contract reporter for NPR.

  • Paul Cook

    If audience is a proxy measure of bias, the 2014 PEW report shows that Ken Stern is correct about NPR. The report found: The clear majority of NPR’s audience (67%) is left-of-center, and it is a particularly popular source for consistent liberals, who make up 41% of its audience.. YIKES!

    • Doug Gardner

      You many want to consider the fact that many liberals – though not all – are interested in even-handed and factual reporting, without the breathless cheerleading that characterizes most of the right-leaning news media outlets. Because NPR provides decent reporting, it’s not surprising that discerning news consumers might favor them. This does not imply, however, that liberals or NPR reporters live in an ideological bubble.

      • Brett Powers

        Mmmm, yeah. “Breathless cheerleading” easily describes NPR in its coverage of myriad liberal tropes. NPR cannot ever wait, for instance, to “breathlessly” report on the latest pro LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ pairing/court victory/social slam dunk.

        You might want to consider the fact that many citizens are interested in even handed and factual reporting. . . .etc.

        • CosmicCowboy

          Man alive. I sure see a lot of whining here with little to no evidence to back up the claim that NPR is stuck in a liberal bubble and they call liberals “snowflakes.” Fascinating.

          • Brett Powers

            Yeah. 30 years of listening shows no evidence. Which I provided in OP.

            Whatever, dude.

      • Larry N Janet Gordon

        I would love even reporting. It isn’t on NPR. Closest is OANN, but we need more.

      • losangelesute

        Liberals and NPR reporters don’t live in an ideological bubble? Did you miss the last election? Even SNL did a skit mocking liberals for their ongoing groupthink and haughtiness. I’m an independent and can smell their (your) arrogance from a mile away. It’s no wonder the pendulum has swung so hard.

      • ohiograndma

        NPR provides both intellectual and intellectual sounding reporting. Too many liberals cannot filter out the “noise” of a story to understand the truth behind it, in my opinion. For example, Trump. I would venture a guess that Trump negatives looming so large for liberals are also apparent to conservatives. However, conservatives are more likely to look at the effects of his policies and dismiss his personal pecadillos. I doubt that you, Doug, have heard the complaints on the right about Trump’s executive actions, a
        usurpation of Congressional powers which was vigorously opposed when Obama did it. Any media consumer should ask themselves a few questions. Of what is this person trying to convince me? And why? One can always find the flip side of the argument elsewhere, with either argument based on a particular foundational premise. That is how humans are wired. We do not start with the facts and build a case. We start with a case and find the facts to support it.

    • CosmicCowboy

      Ohh isn’t that just frightening to have progressives using their minds to question things including Trump?

      • Jeff

        We should all question Trump, left and right.

        • CosmicCowboy

          Amen to that.

  • Brett Powers

    Groupthink, Mr. Mann, was the charge, and it sticks, despite your rationalization. Ive been listening to NPR for 30 years while living in the hinterlands, and your ex-boss is spot on. Deal with it.

  • Larry N Janet Gordon

    My mother, from Little Rock, AR, has listened to NPR for years. She is a very big conservative and has become a Trump supporter. She has quit listening to NPR in the last year because of their liberal slant and disrespect for our President. Mr. Stern is spot on.

    • LeFabe

      What has NPR broadcasted that disrespected the President?
      sounds like your mother has been listening to too much Fox News and has finally lost her mind.

      • Dannyboy 76

        And you’ve listened to too much tom Hartman

        • CosmicCowboy

          LOL!!! Watch “the Brain Washing of my Father” sometime.

      • comfort woodstock

        Typical NPR listener response. Now tell us how oppressed you are.

    • CosmicCowboy

      Trump is incredibly creepy, a mysogenist, a serial liar, the list goes on and on. He is very dangerous to our democracy. NPR covers all sides of issues. If you think not then PROVE it!

      • Richard Rostron

        No, Trump is not a creepy, mysogenist, serial liar; that’s only your opinion. And NPR isn’t even as close to neutral as you are (which is to say ‘hardly’).

        • Hi, moderator weighing in here — just a heads-up that we will delete comments on this site that do not relate to public media, which is what we’re here to cover. I’ve removed two on this thread.

          • Richard Rostron

            What comments are you talking about?

          • You and the Cowboy have left a few. Anything that’s just discussion of politics and not public media is getting deleted. There are other forums for discussing politics that you all can go to.

          • Richard Rostron

            WHAT?!!! How can you discuss the POLITICAL bias of NPR without discussing politics. This story IS about politics. That’s the sad truth. It shouldn’t be but, then, if it wasn’t, there would be nothing to discuss here. You’re being grossly unfair in your assessment and criticisms of my posts. Worse than that, you’re the moderator of a discussion the basis of which you don’t seem to understand.

          • We’re happy to have comments (civilly!) discussing whether NPR is politically biased, etc. But an entire comment that doesn’t even mention NPR or public radio is going to get canned.

          • Richard Rostron

            So, you’re saying that I need to specifically use ‘NPR’ in a sentence or the comment gets canned? You’ve got to be kidding? I’ve never, ever seen such a heavy handed approach to ‘a moderator’s’ position. You’ve injected yourself into this area of the discussion inappropriately and with an appearance of bias all your own.

          • Adam Ragusea

            It may indeed be a heavy-handed approach, but I think you should consider that this is not a general interest publication. It’s a trade publication, and Mike is trying to keep these threads relevant to the highly rarified audience for whom this service is intended.

        • Ben Clark

          Hi Richard, this is CosmicCowboy but for some reason my other account is not working. Here is my response to you about DJT in connection with how NPR reports.

          I asked you to prove it if you think NPR does not cover all sides of issues with DJT. I read the transcript, listened to DJT as he said what he said and have seen what he has said in the past where he has lied and shown blatant disregard for women. The Access Hollywood Tape and statements by plenty of women regarding sexual assault by him. There have been plenty of individuals who have been removed from corporate positions for less than this. Sexual harassment toward women can be found in all areas of power from Washington, big Corporations, High up in Religious Institutional Leadership, in Law Firms and in Hollywood.

          Senator Jeff Flake summed much of this up yesterday. Even Republicans are saying enough already. Every time I have listened to NPR I have heard the Tom Ashbrook or others talk on NPR they have simply asked questions that reflect the important questions of the day asked by liberals, conservatives, libertarians, Independents and others. The job of journalists (the Constitution calls them “the Press”) is to speak truth to power. That means to ask the important questions and ask for the truth. It is the job of the press to ask these tough questions for the American people. If the President chooses to ignore or to not answer the questions truthfully that is a very serious problem.

          • Richard Rostron

            No, you didn’t “ask me to prove it.” However, that is the essence of my comment – you’re making a statement as though it’s a proven fact. You now support your statement by expanding on your accusations against the President, but failing to offer any proof.

            As for Sen. Flake, it’s my OPINION that he is well named. It must be a family characteristic that goes way back. I suspect that his great, great, great grandfather was on a tree stump pontificating irrationally day after day and people would pass by saying, “What a flake” and it stuck, and continues to stick.

  • Richard Rostron

    I haven’t read Ken Stern’s book yet, but I will. In the meantime, I’d like to comment on Brian Mann’s response. Horsehockey! I don’t care where you claim to ‘hangout,’ Brian, either you and the editors you admire wouldn’t know ‘liberal groupspeak’ if it smacked you in the face or you don’t want to know. In either case, NPR is as dominated by Leftists as the rest of mainstream media. What percentage of journalists claim they’re Democrats? Is it 80 percent (to 10-percent Republican). Your bias is baked into the cake and it’s hurting this country, the future and the profession.

    • comfort woodstock

      And the shouldnt recieve federal funding if they pick and choose parties.

      • Richard Rostron

        Too true.

      • CosmicCowboy

        They all say that. If there is too much perceived support for a President who is a Republican then liberals and Democrats often think that NPR has gone too far right. If there is a perception of too much support for a Democratic President then many conservatives and Republicans have a fit about it. This goes to show how perception has shifted because the divide is so much wider than it ever was and I partially blame the Corporate Media for that. They thrive on division.

        • Wazoo2u2

          Let’s compare your word choices for bias- Democrats…”think that NPR has gone too far right”; but Republicans… “throw a fit”
          There’s a reason it’s called a bubble.

    • Chewbakka™

      Richard Rostron is my new personal hero. This guy knows what’s going on.

  • Duncan Lively

    To commenters here who are attacking Brian Mann’s professionalism — rather than engaging in broad brush criticisms, please cite a specific instance (or instances) of bias in his work?

    Please be specific about where you see him shading the truth, omitting relevant facts or otherwise using his talents as a journalist to mislead the reader / listener.

    Here is a link to his recent stories:
    https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/reporters/1/brian-mann

  • Bill Norton

    I think represents a malady shared by liberals and conservatives alike: they cannot relate to or recognize how others see them. I’m a retired journalist with 30+ years at a major metro daily. And I’ve listened regularly to NPR since 1980. Perhaps the news at local stations may be more representative of the culture and class of the geographic area they cover. But the voices emanating from the DC headquarters staff and the West Coast staff represent a liberal cant they’re incapable of seeing in themselves. I would challenge Mr. Mann to read the 2014 Pew Study. Liberals do not as a group listen to news outlets that do not reflect their values or beliefs. That’s why Fox is so appealing to millions of viewers. I would challenge him to examine the newsframe used most often by the NPR news division. Here’s a link to read: http://wecommunication.blogspot.com/2015/02/framing-and-media.html. I’d ask Mr. Mann pay particular attention to the “Counter Frames” section. Journalists base news judgment based on certain assumptions. These assumptioms are infected with personal predisposition. In this case, NPR and Fox TV have a malady in common.

    • LeFabe

      Fox News, Sinclair broadcasting, Breitbart, InfoWars… these are not serious news outlets and can be dismissed offhand. They are propaganda and conspiracy theorists. Educated people will gladly read the Economist, The Federalist, Foreign Policy, National Review. But right wing conservative radio is nothing more but lying grifters like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh and aren’t worth anybody’s time.

      • rhinobuster

        Get another hit of that koolaid…..try the Jim Jones brand.

      • Bill Norton

        What constitutes a serious news outlet? If you limit your audience to the publications you mentioned, an audience that you describe as “educated people,” you will miss much of the nation’s news audience and many who consider themselves educated. A serious news outlet is one that has reach and revenue. The latest polls show Fox has both.

        • LeFabe

          thats fucking stupid. Fox is a propaganda outlet.

          • CosmicCowboy

            The sad thing is that pretty much all of the corporate media outlets (including Fox) have corporate shareholders to answer to. That’s one of the main reasons we do not get the kind of news we all used to get prior to the 1980’s. Jerry Springer has had far too much influence on the style of media in this country.

          • politepatrick

            Such an elegant and persuasive post.

      • comfort woodstock

        Educated people like Trinity University professor Williams who called for letting whites die instead of assisting them, educated? This educated notion the left spews is amusing. Try being “educated” and a conservative at any liberalized safe spaced white bashing university . Different political views may get you shot up at the conservative charity baseball practice.

  • Brad Deltan

    “But DGUs happen all the time — 200 times a day, according to the Department of Justice, or 5,000 times a day, according to an overly exuberant Florida State University study. But WHICHEVER STUDY YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE, DGUs happen frequently and give credence to my hunting friends who see their guns as the last line of defense for themselves and their families.” (emphasis mine)

    My god, what the hell happened to Stern? “Whichever study you choose to believe”? Jesus, I really hope he’s been brainwashed into a cult or something, because that one sentence alone should make him persona non grata in every reputable journalism enterprise in the world.

    It also speaks volumes about the board of NPR in 2006 who authorized his hiring. And I’d like to think this incredible intellectual disingenuousness of Stern’s is a major reason why he was forced out in 2008.

    Also, let’s be frank: he has a new book coming out, and was fired by NPR. So he has a hell of a lot of incentive to bash NPR as much as possible and as publicly as possible to jack up book sales.

    • CosmicCowboy

      Thank you Brad. It’s sad that there are only a few Islands of sanity in a sea of insanity here.

      • Brett Powers

        Yeah, that heady odor of Genetic Fallacy in the morning is so rare and refreshing.

  • rhinobuster

    Looking forward to reading the book. Sure has the NPR folks wired.

  • comfort woodstock

    As an avid NPR listener for years, I can tell you NPR is nothing today but one liberal victimhood guest after another. Everything is viewed through race. Obama was a saint, and Trump is the anti christ. NPR is as guilty as CNN NBC ABC for bashing conservatives. I literally ended donations and unplugged my kitchen radio that played 88.5 wfdd 24/7 365. Their liberal victimhood push left me feeling disgusted.

    • CosmicCowboy

      Please show us some examples of this. Perhaps you have a Youtube clip or something to prove this? I know plenty of conservatives who have been victimized. Victimization has no party boundary.

  • CosmicCowboy

    Stern sounds incredibly naive. I was a lifelong conservative living in a conservative rural bubble and I left conservatism and the GOP. I think this letter from NPR is spot on.

  • Paul Cook

    I can’t wait for the NPR book review! Where is Folkenflik?

    Current isn’t reporting it but Ken Stern is/was a Dem Party staffer. From his wiki page:
    He also served as chief counsel for the 53rd Presidential Inaugural Committee and deputy general counsel for the Clinton/Gore 1996 Campaign.

  • VA_Steve

    If this is true, how is NPR still so biased to the left? I remember spending mornings just trying to find one article that articulated a conservative viewpoint. Often I couldn’t do it.

    The criticisms on Sterns may land true. I don’t know enough about the internal workings to say. But there is a reason he has struck a chord and found an audience – he is saying what we have known for years. NPR is biased. That there is so much “conservative cred” and it is still so biased seems even more curious.

    • Robert R Fiske

      Trouble hearing Conservative views.. You don’t get Marketplace on your NPR station? There is a lot of conservatism in the ‘frame’ that NPR works out of.. They DO have a bubble, but it’s an NPR bubble, not necessarily a Liberal one.

      They do offer some truly great content and have built on some very decent ideals, but like the US, they don’t get a carte blanche on ‘Righteousness’ .. They have some serious chinks in their Armor.

      As with the political parties, I think the terminology in this discussion is missing the orientation towards Money and Class, as it tries to hold the whole topic within ‘Left and Right’. NPR gets stuck in its righteousness more than a bit, and I have to think that this descends from a group comprised largely from Upper Middle Class perspectives, where they really strain when they try to show stories (and they do try, and sincerely) about poor and working class, about many who feel like ‘the other’ to the UMC.. There are surely some crossovers with liberalism and the Access to Education, preferences towards Social Policy solutions.. but listen when they start to play on some of the Socialist ideas, and you hear the protectionism towards the owning classes kick in pretty readily.

      • MarkJeffries

        “Marketplace” isn’t an NPR program, even though the “Morning Report” is now part of “Morning Edition.” It is produced and syndicated by American Public Media.

  • David Hall

    very consistent with the NYT editor who admitted their journalists bring their bias into their reporting. Deciding what is and is not news and/or whether the story goes above the fold on page one or is buried on page 26 or in the case of radio/TV whether something is the lead story or gets no minutes at all is where the bias shows up. Also in choosing who is or is not a reliable source to go to for comments. Similar to Bernard Goldberg’s takeaways working at CBS years ago.

  • Brad Deltan

    Mr. Mann points out a fundamental truth most conservatives like to ignore: NPR affiliate stations and reporters are the ONLY mass media outlet with actual reporters “out there”. There’s affiliate stations reporting in the heartland and the coasts. In rich counties and poor counties. In red states and blue states. Conservative and liberal.

    How many reporters (I use the term loosely) does Fox News have in locations besides NYC and DC? Are there any? Seriously, I don’t know but I don’t think there are…

    • VA_Steve

      Quality of reporting by NPR is better than Fox News. I don’t watch Fox News. However, the charge of liberal bias on the part of NPR stands. That Mr. Mann doesn’t see what is blatantly obvious to conservatives reinforces that he is in a bubble, regardless of his rationalizations.

      • politepatrick

        If you do not watch Fox how can you be so confidant that it is inferior to NPR? Hearsay from liberal friends perhaps?

    • Paul Cook

      Huh? What am I missing? Fox has 17 owned-and-operated stations and over 185 affiliates. Fox reports sit in those stations. Yes NPR, has more but how is that not the equivalent of NPR’s member stations?(By the way: None of those Fox stations are tax funded.)

      • Brad Deltan

        Fox News (aka Fox News Channel) is not Fox. Two separate entities.

        Also, yes they are. Every commercial radio and TV station receives billions in taxpayer subsidies every year. It’s called the advertising deduction and it’s more than 10 times what CPB gets from Congress…and every one of us pays for it even though we may detest the media outlets it benefits.

  • ohiograndma

    What Mann ignores is that there are liberal bubbles in “rural” America. Where are the Ohio Public Radio stations based? In Milton, Ohio? No. In Cleveland. Etc. Pretty much college towns, and the stations are affiliated with college campuses, which are notoriously liberal.
    In my youth, I was addicted to NPR and listened to it almost exclusively. Then I started to really LISTEN. Biased? Yes, definitely. Mann actually proves the point Stern was trying to make: Stern is unable to see that NPR exists in a bubble.
    Truly, it would make more sense to admit that we all operate from bias, which is our individualized interpretation of reality. Too often it comes down to presentation and argument, which is understandable but flawed. Instead, we should strive to accept that people’s views are individually influenced by their experiences and genetics. Then we should use that information to try to develop a consensus wherein BOTH parties are slightly disgruntled. I would define that as progress.

    • CosmicCowboy

      I am a 5th generation Wyoming Native and NPR can be heard across close to the entire state of Wyoming for decades. There are some wonderful programs on NPR and most of them are not news based. They always raise a lot of money across the state and Wyoming is about the reddest state in the country. You can hear NPR on the Brigham Young University Idaho radio station as well throughout most of Southeastern Idaho. That is another traditionally conservative region of Idaho.

      • Frank Hawthorne

        Yeah–Gotta watch (‘er listen closely to) that Beethoven…And don’t get me started about Brahms!

  • mashman

    To those commenting about the existence of a ‘conservative bubble’ – there is no such thing!

    No matter where you live, and how conservative that area may be, you are still surrounded by the liberal media. While liberals make up only ~ 25% of the population ( moderates make up between 35%-40%, as do conservatives – http://news.gallup.com/poll/188129/conservatives-hang-ideology-lead-thread.aspx ), they make up over 90% of the national mainstream news media.

    For conservatives, it’s literally impossible to ‘live in a bubble’, believe me, I HAVE TRIED!

  • Bob Adome

    Judas Iscariot walked with Jesus most of his ministry. Did no make him a follower.

  • Paul Cook

    I think the former NYTimes Ombudsman said it elegantly when dealing with the perception, true or not, of liberal bias at the Times:

    …unless the strategy is to become The New Republic gone daily, this perception by many readers strikes me as poison. A paper whose journalism appeals to only half the country has a dangerously severed public mission. And a news organization trying to survive off revenue from readers shouldn’t erase American conservatives from its list of prospects.

    NPR management/leadership is tone deaf to the accusation of bias.

  • Jeff

    Funny, I was banned from Minnesota Public Radio’s blog for making right leaning comments and the individual in charge of that blog didn’t like a true statement I made on the topic of Medicaid. I personally wrote him an email with a document from a doctor friend of mine to back up my statement, he then went on tirade about YouTube comments and I’m still banned to this day. NPR/MPR has a bias problem and the first step is to admit the balance in their newsrooms and then decide if they want to do something about it.

    I dealt with constant harassment from left leaning posters as well as the blog author himself, where if I said half the things said to me I would have been banned at the drop of a hat.

    • Jeff

      Btw, I am saying these things as a person who thoroughly enjoys NPR, MPR & APM. I simply want them to confront their bias and do something about, to be better than they already are. Yes, even confronting left leaning listeners with right leaning ideas from time to time. I just wish all levels of public radio could take these criticism seriously and acknowledge the bias instead of trying to deny it.

    • CosmicCowboy

      Jeff what did you write about the issue of Medicaid? I would like to know. It’s the issues that are the important thing. If people would stick to issues and policies I think we would be a lot better off on social media, etc.

      • Jeff

        I said that many people on Medicaid don’t have deductibles and then produced a document from my doctor friend that showed that adults on Medicaid pay no deductibles in my state of Minnesota. I also made the statement that 20 million more people jumped onto Medicaid thanks to Obamacare which made up the vast majority of new people with health insurance.

        • Ben Clark

          That is so strange that the moderator would block you for stating the obvious. Everything that you wrote here about Medicaid is the truth as far as I understand it.

          • Jeff

            What I was saying didn’t line up with his worldview and he demanded a very high burden of proof, which I provided and then he moved the goal posts. That’s the definition of liberal bias…or just bias in general.

          • Wazoo2u2

            Not strange- it’s NPR, and the end product of that very real groupthink.

          • HeyYouKidsGetOffMyLawn

            One regional public radio station doing what Jeff claims (and I think if what he says is true, it’s very wrong of MPR) does NOT make it NPR nor all public radio.

          • NPR and MPR are two different entities. MPR was founded 35 years ago in direct competition with NPR when NPR refused to distribute “A Prairie Home Companion.” It has since gone on to become an arts & culture powerhouse surpassing NPR.

          • Ben Clark

            There has been a lot of changes made in NPR as of late. I think they are a great organization especially on the local level. Wyoming NPR is supported by a wonderful group of many Wyomingites. There are a host of non-political programs on NPR that are beneficial and interesting.

  • MarkJeffries

    Where’s Lisa Simone, Amy Goodman or someone from FAIR when you need them to tell us that NPR panders to Republicans and that Scott Simon is an apologist for the military? Where are those old buddies from the NPR boards like Dana Franchitto and “ben-balz” to tell us that NPR is a bunch of sellouts?

    And I got banned from MPR’s comments page for DEFENDING public radio from the snobs mostly on the far left (the REAL far left, not centrist Hillary Clinton) who think that public radio has become too populist and not “cultural” enough.

    • “Where’s Lisa Simone, Amy Goodman or someone from FAIR when you need them to tell us that NPR panders to Republicans and that Scott Simon is an apologist for the military? Where are those old buddies from the NPR boards like Dana Franchitto and “ben-balz” to tell us that NPR is a bunch of sellouts?”

      Mark, I’m here. (You left out an “e” in “Simeone”.) I’ve grown tired of trying to tell people what really goes on at NPR. NPR isn’t liberal, but people (such as you) don’t want to believe that. And I’ve never said they’re “a bunch of sellouts.”
      Regardless, NPR could turn into Fox News overnight, and it would still be tainted with the dirty “L” word. That will never change.

      • Stephen Smith

        How can anyone say that something is not liberal, or conservative? Everyone has their own built in beliefs which effect their perceptions. Those at the extreme left perceive everyone else leans toward conservatism, and those at the extreme right see everyone else as not conservative enough. We all fall somewhere in that spectrum. And we all think we are right in being where we are. If we live or work with people who share our beliefs, our perceptions of our “neutrality” are reinforced, which makes it even more difficult to be objective about our own positions.

        • Of course there’s room for improvement. Such is the human condition. All we can do is be aware and try.

          As for “How you state so certainly that NPR is not liberal?” I worked there for years. That’s how I know.

          • Stephen Smith

            Thank you for your excellent service. But that does not seem to address my point. I see how you can feel that NPR is not liberal, but not how you know that to be a fact. I know people who I have considered to be racist for as long as I have known them. They would argue vehemently that they are not. They have much more information than I do on their feelings, but I cannot change my impression in this matter. Both they, and I, are looking at behaviors from different points of view. It may be my error, but we all believe what we believe based on who we are.

            One interesting thing I have observed in this discussion. Right leaning people often state that NPR is liberal. Left leaning people say it is not liberal. But I have not seen a single comment from either camp claiming it is conservative. It seems that if it was truly neutral, someone would have felt it was conservative. Don’t you agree?

          • I’m still not sure what you’re saying. NPR is a corporation, with everything that implies. Mainstream, middle of the road, don’t rock the boat. And above all, protect your monied interests. I don’t deny that they still do some good reporting. But the network has changed dramatically over the past 40+ years.

            If you want some concrete examples, their insistence on using the vile euphemisms “harsh interrogation” or “enhanced interrogation” instead of “torture” during the Bush years. I was still working there then. I used to go into certain producers/editors/reporters’ offices, close the door, and start railing about it. Some of them agreed, but nobody did anything about it. That’s just one example.

          • Stephen Smith

            I must not be explaining myself well. The reason I responded originally is that I think one of the biggest problems our country faces today is a lack of accepting other peoples points of view. I fell that in our national circumstance, basically, both sides of our major arguments accuse the other of being stupid. It is much more nuanced than that, but when you cut through all the name calling, that’s what it seems to come down to. One doesn’t have to listen to, or engage with critical thought with someone too stupid to understand one’s obviously superior position. (Please know that, in my opinion,NPR does not fall into that camp. Otherwise, I would not use it as my primary news source.)

            No one seems to accept that their own position may me biased, or simply in error due to a lack of critical data which they do not have access to, or do not consider pertinent. If you ask someone if they are ever wrong about something they would probably say “Of course. No one is perfect.” But we are never wrong THIS time. I think an acceptance of our own fallibility would go a long way in improving the discourse in many critical issues we face today.

            Also, I may be confusing NPR content with the local content on our NPR station. If so, I apologize.

            I was raised to be aware that no matter how sure I was of something, I just might be wrong. What I hear on my local NPR station seems to lean to the left. And again, if NO ONE claims you are conservative, it seems likely that you are probably a bit liberal. But,I might be wrong about NPR. This time.

          • Eliot

            I’ve left this tab open for a while and keep returning to your comment. Your remark about maintaining some degree of rational self skepticism is crucial and sorely lacking in public discourse. Thank you.

          • Stephen Smith

            Thanks Eliot. I am happy that at least one person understood my point. Apparently it is not as intuitive as I thought it to be.

          • Dean Bruckner

            How many times has someone worn a MAGA hat in an NPR office or studio building?

            How many of you at NPR go to church every week?

            How many of you at NPR are unabashedly, outspokenly pro-life?

            How many of you at NPR have a concealed carry permit?

            The answers are obvious.

          • That’s your idea of what constitutes “liberal”??

            Laughable.

            This might help:
            https://current.org/2016/03/a-critic-sees-pro-government-bias-in-nprs-reporting/

          • Dean Bruckner

            Your comment seems like a non-sequitur to mine. Would you mind expanding on your thought? I was highlighting cultural flashpoints that I can’t imagine being acceptable at NPR, thereby illustrating the point that the culture of NPR is very liberal. I might be wrong. But neither your comment nor the article seems to address that.

            Instead, your article seems to indicate that you take the side of rabid Progressives, for whom abortion is a sacred rite. Worse, you seem to have little clue about how you look to heartland Americans.

            Am I wrong? I don’t think so. The smugness seems to drip from your words.

            I lived five years in the DC metro area. I remember that triumphant Tina Totenburg used to crow on All Things Considered about Supreme Court decisions on social issues that went her way, but she was totally AWOL on those that didn’t. Why did she never report on the radio on those? Was she curled up in a fetal position screaming “I hate you Clarence Thomas! I hate you, Antonin Scalia!” More than likely, she was.

            Progressivism is a cancer that must be eradicated by every legal, moral, prudent and non-violent means available. Progressivism poisons everything.

          • Well, I haven’t told you what I think of you, but you’ve certainly told me what you think of me. Congratulations.

          • MarkJeffries

            Well, it’s sure nice to see that you support the First Amendment.

            Since no one answered your other question, at the end of its run “Duck Dynasty” was only getting about 1.3M viewers, one-tenth of what it was getting at its height in 2003. I would assume that like many other viewers, NPR employees watched the show in 2003 to see what all the fuss was about and then decided it was not for them.

            As for “Last Man Standing,” it was averaging slightly over 8M viewers in its last season, which by today’s standard is OK, but not for a series that started out much higher. Also, it was on a Friday night, where I would assume a lot of NPR employees, along with many others, would be going out for the night. And currently it isn’t even cracking the top 25 in syndication, which would lead me to believe that the show’s popularity has been way overstated.

          • Duncan Lively

            RE: How many times has an NPR employee or contributor worn a MAGA hat in an NPR office or studio building?
            I cannot speak specifically to NPR because I have never worked there. But I can tell you that in the public radio newsrooms I have worked in — all of which adhere to policies similar to those at NPR — any employee who has a role in creating editorial content would be instructed to remove any partisan article of clothing, button, badge etc. Most likely a refusal to do so would result in something resembling summary termination of employment.

            RE:How many of you at NPR go to church every week?
            Like any other workplace that is a deeply personal matter and is it certainly none of the employer’s business. Again though, based on my experience of working in a number of public media organizations, I would estimate that the number of faithful probably matched or exceeded what one would find in the general population.

            RE: How many of you at NPR are unabashedly, outspokenly pro-life?
            Again, where most of my colleagues over the past 25 years are concerned, it’s not a topic of conversation and it is generally regarded as unprofessional to force one’s beliefs on such a personal and sensitive matter upon others. To the extent that it has come up I have found that there is a wide variation of opinion.

            RE:How many of you at NPR have a concealed carry permit?
            Probably more than you would think. Same answer for the number who take pleasure in target shooting.

          • Dean Bruckner

            Religion is deeply personal, but that does not mean it is, or should be, private. That itself is a cultural blindspot for you, I would suggest. No doubt I have them too.

            Still, thanks much for answering these questions. I sincerely appreciate it.

  • Gemma Seymour

    While it is OBVIOUSLY true that most people in the profession of journalism are liberal, since liberalism correlates strongly with intelligence and education, the fact of the matter is, what those liberal journalists can and cannot say is HEAVILY policed by their conservative corporate masters. I would highly recommend reading “The News About the News”, by Leonard Downie Jr. and Robert G. Kaiser—both reporters and editors at the Washington Post for nearly four decades.

    • CosmicCowboy

      You’re correct. The key word is “corporate masters” I wish we had a wall of strong separation between Corporations and The Government. That’s the core problem that most, if not all parties and political belief systems seem to not address directly.

    • politepatrick

      Right on one point but wrong on the other. Corporate profit over quality journalism is not only destroying journalism, it will ultimately destroy profits as well. However, you are uninformed in thinking that the corporate masters of whom you speak are conservatives. Look into this a bit more closely. Find out who is running the NYT, WaPo CBS, NBC and ABC and get back to me. (You probably won’t)

      • Chewbakka™

        You are absolutely correct. Thank you for posting this.

    • wahoo20

      Oh my, Gemma Seymour, you’re not fitting the liberal-elite, look-down-your-nose at conservatives model at all, are you? “. . . most people in the profession of journalism are liberal, since liberalism correlates strongly with intelligence and education, . . .” Really? Obviously true? Have you ever even tried to look outside your liberal bubble for other theories on intelligence and political affiliation? Because they are out there. Here’s one: “An alternative theory, originally proposed by Hans Eysenck, is that higher intelligence is associated with avoidance of extreme political views in general. Hence, more intelligent people are thought to be moderate/centrist in their political views. The argument is that more extreme views, whether right-wing or left-wing, tend to be associated with dogmatism and rigidity, which are more appealing to less intelligent people.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201305/intelligence-and-politics-have-complex-relationship

      What??? Intelligence may be correlated with avoidance of extreme political views in general . . . not necessarily liberal views? What a concept. There might actually be intelligent life in ConservativeLand. Lol.

  • Jeff

    I have to make a few more comments here but Brian Mann’s entire response is filled with remarks that cement the idea of a liberal bubble and the liberal holier than thou attitude. The point of Ken Stern’s article and book (I assume) is to suggest we need to really listen and challenge our bubbles/boundaries that we create among ourselves. Taking a moment to acknowledge that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, maybe NPR could reflect upon the idea of liberal bubble and examine it by giving us statistics about the conservative vs liberal make up of their newsrooms. If it’s not 50/50 maybe NPR could do something to change that or at least make more of an effort to minimize bias based on the true political balance in their newsrooms. That’s clearly not what Brian Mann was doing, instead he went into full snark mode.

    So let’s break down the entire response from Mr. Mann; the first paragraph is pure sarcasm, “I’m glad that you broadened your horizons and discovered that conservative Americans are actually human.” Yep, and it gets worse from there…all snark. The second and third paragraphs attempt to at least refute Mr. Stern’s comments but they don’t quite do it, just because NPR exists in conservative areas doesn’t mean that there are many conservatives contributing in the newsrooms. The fourth paragraph talks about how NPR board members come from rural America, okay, does that make them conservative in any way…liberals and conservatives live in rural America…then of course we go back to full snark, “I’m more than a little surprised you don’t know that. You worked closely with that board. Hopefully, this note will jog your memory.”

    So then the fifth paragraph (excluding the line “Two final points.”) gets into the “NPR’s editorial process” but doesn’t describe it in depth and fully explain HOW NPR avoids liberal bias or “groupthink”. Instead of getting into that process or giving us details Mr. Mann simply says, “to borrow a phrase from my part of America, pure horses—.” There’s even the final statement that “my editors have been diligent, informed and intellectually curious”, sure, but if you’re liberal and they’re liberal I’d assume you’d feel that way…it’s almost a backhanded slap at conservatives who in the minds of some liberals do not have those traits.

    The sixth paragraph gets into assumptions on all sides, assuming that Mr. Stern was simply pulling a stunt to live in and among those who may not line up with his political ideology. Then of course, in condescending fashion the paragraph goes on to dress down Mr. Stern as if he assumed all conservatives were idiots, which belies Mr. Mann’s intent of proving there is no liberal bias at NPR.

    The final paragraph shows complete cognitive dissonance, Mr. Stern was pointing out a liberal bias that does exist at NPR. Mr. Mann didn’t hear that AT ALL, he went on to suggest “public radio reporters have been telling conservative America’s story with care and knowledge and intimate, deep, factual reporting for decades”. Yes, the stories have been told but usually with an agenda, to put conservatives in a bad light or at least to question their ideas and not hear their full truth or hide some key element of a story. It’s not so much about the stories themselves, which are generally fair (except when key facts are excluded) but it’s the editorial decisions, why was that story chosen? Are other major stories being ignored? What kind of airtime are we giving positive/negative stories about politicians from each political party? Why did we ignore a story? Did we demand a high burden of proof on this story which disagrees with my ideology while requiring almost no burden of proof with this story which agrees with my ideology? That’s the conversation I would hope Mr. Stern’s article and book might start but instead we got a snark filled response from a tone deaf NPR reporter. Be better than that, listen.

  • Chewbakka™

    NPR might have correspondents all over the US who cover most aspects of American culture and subculture, but this means absolutely nothing in regards to how they tell stories. NPR is absolutely, 100% a liberal think tank. While this doesn’t make them *wrong*, per se’, it certainly fosters a culture of omitting certain truths which don’t fit their narrative. I still listen to them because I enjoy the types of stories they tell, but I also have first hand experience with being censored from their sites and even WRVO, the local station that I used to pledge to every year.

    To be completely clear Brian Mann is part of the echo chamber at NPR, which is why he reacted so strongly to Ken Stern. Defending your employer’s credibility is one thing, but throwing a verbal temper tantrum is completely different.

  • What if “members” of public stations had a systematic means of providing feedback to journalists and guiding the enterprises though formal governance processes? I suspect the stations would learn to better serve their listeners with more actionable civic information. What if our problem is not “partisan information” but simply BAD partisan information? In our age of weak parties and weak news outlets might we invent new forms of enterprise, building on the strengths of public radio, that provide GOOD civic information?

    • Brad Deltan

      To be perfectly frank, most public radio stations already do that.

      First, there’s the CPB-required Community Advisory Board, which is specifically to advise the station on programming. Historically CAB’s have had wildly varying efficacy but CPB has really cracked down in the last two or three years, providing member stations with a lot more guidance and a lot more enforcement.

      But really, any well-run pubradio station will have numerous, regular avenues to interact with their listening public. Many of these double as good opportunities to promote your station as well.

      I would agree that too many pubradio outlets could stand to go a little further in how they convey information to their audience about how to be more civically active in their community. Typically the attitude is “here’s what’s going on, it’s your responsibility to decide to go out and do something with this information.” I can understand that attitude, but it’s short-sighted.

      I’m more a fan of Paul Bass’s model at The New Haven Independent, which is actually based on a tenet of judaism about how your business should always exist as a vehicle for the betterment of your community. This isn’t about Bass’s particular faith, more that there are actually several independent media outlets that derive their mission by adhering to certain relevant tenets that their religions espouse. Dan Kennedy has written extensively about this: https://dankennedy.net/2014/11/17/hyperlocal-news-civic-engagement-and-spirituality/

      • Brad, I don’t doubt that there are exceptions, and variety of possible media models is almost infinite in fine detail but most public stations are much more interested in their members’ money than advice. And what I am asking about is more robust than advice. General audiences can “vote with their ears” but what I wonder is whether paying members could participate by voting for representatives, executives, etc. and even on editorial positions such as endorsements of candidates and public policies. I also wonder if members could serve as “participatory journalists” formally linked with professional staff to advise on and vet their work.

        I read Kennedy’s book “The Wired City,” and found it much less romantic about the challenges of civic media than reviews implied (my own background is on the sales/business side which makes me skeptical of faddish enthusiasms in the field). But I didn’t find solutions in the book. I find it strange that non-profits like The Texas Tribune are touted as some new model when public broadcasting is already operating on a vastly larger scale. And now “membership” is being rolled out as a new civic media concept, e.g. by Jay Rosen, when public broadcasting has had member support since its inception.

        My question is what would the journalistic process and enterprise structure look like if we started for the citizens’ information problems and worked back rather than assuming that old norms and ideals of journalism are appropriate today. It seems to me that public broadcasting is particularly well positioned to innovate.

        • Brad Deltan

          It’s true that pubradio has had a membership model of journalism for far longer than most others. But I’ve spoken at length with Jay about this topic myself, and he’s the first to admit pubradio has done that…but it drives him a little nuts how pubradio, broadly speaking, hasn’t taken the concept to its logical conclusion. He’s real big on “membership model” meaning “listener trust” and pubradio is, in his view, really bad at that. They’re too addicted to his famous concept of “the view from nowhere”. Broadly speaking, I would agree with that.

          Jay’s got his new thing with De Correspondent and how it’s all built on “consumer trust” and I think it’s really interesting.

          http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/03/jay-rosen-this-is-what-a-news-organization-built-on-reader-trust-looks-like/

          However, I think Jay underestimates a couple things, and this brings it back to our discussion: first is that De Correspondent is based in the Netherlands and the relationship between media outlets and their local communities is just very, very different in Europe than it is in the USA. There’s very different expectations on both sides of the equation and they’re far less profit-focused (especially in a publicly-traded company sense) than most media outlets in the USA.

          Second, and more towards your point, is that a web-only (or print) news outlet has far, far more freedom of time than a radio broadcast outlet does. Radio has to “feed the beast” 24/7/365, no dead air allowed. That puts far more time pressure on a lot of its journalism and doesn’t allow…as much…the freedom to do really in-depth reporting. The fleeting nature of how radio is consumed also mitigates against highly detailed reporting where it can be difficult to explain a complicated concept in real-time with no easy way for a consumer to go back and try to consume it again.

          That all said, I think public radio could benefit enormously from a concentrated effort to kick the “view from nowhere” habit and focus more on the same concepts De Correspondent is based on.

  • jimak

    I know you are but what am I?

  • Frank Hawthorne

    Yeah/Me too re Brian Mann’s rebuttal to Ken Stern: As a 40-yr (small-donations from small, middle-class, Midwestern communities) supporter of NPR & affiliates, I’m always mystified & annoyed to hear how “elitist” we liberals are. Talk about those who wish to divide US by falsely pigeon-holing those who don’t share their politics. While I recognize that public radio, like all other media, has its occasional faults & shortcomings, it far surpasses most of what else is currently polluting the airwaves. Were we not to have such exceptional broadcasting [i.e. the dream of many conservatives] this country would be at great loss for the lack of it.

  • Mojito

    I listen to NPR every day as I travel the highways in my company pickup truck. Anyone who doesn’t recognize the left bias on NPR is not thinking or not a conservative or both. Yes there is an occasional right-side perspective and yes there is occasionally a conservative who speaks but in the main the stories chosen and the moderators who ask the questions and frame the debate are all breathing blue ether. No matter what the issue from guns to the climate, NPR is consistent. Its moderators and guests like to point out how complicated the issue at hand is. Oh how nuanced! Oh my, multi-faceted! Yeah we get it. You’re the sophisticated ones.

  • abcdefg4

    I disagree that NPR is all liberal. I’ve heard this argument for 30 years. They report on the poor, they report on the rich, they call multiple sources for comment, and they do extended pieces on people who rarely get representation in other news media. I grew up in a town of 800 people in the rural South. I know right wing, I know left wing, and I know that the goal line on what constitutes “liberal” keeps moving, just as it does for “conservative.” I trust NPR to get stories right, and when they don’t they correct themselves. That’s human, and that’s good journalism.

  • Jon Wieneke

    I dont know if NPR exists in that liberal bubble, but that certainly is where you report from.

  • ziffle mcguinness

    I listen everyday and have yet to hear anything but what I consider to be liberal perspectives. It some of what I do to try to understand so called liberals. Most of what I hear is promotion of liberal ideas. They frequently make statements that inaccurately support liberal/democrat talking points. I bet they went on for months with people saying 17 intelligence agency agreed the Russians hacked our election long after it was reported by the government that this was a false narrative. I could name many more of these types of false statements from political narratives of the left. Now this may be a function of the station near where I live and not representative of NPR nationally.

  • Brad Deltan

    If you’re listening for evidence of bias, you will always find it – regardless of whether or not it exists.

  • Todd Ericsson

    If you don’t know, with complete and absolute certainty, that NPR is liberal…and on its best day just left of center…then you are in no way a conservative. I have been listening to NPR for 35 years and over the last 20 years they have drifted farther and farther left. I have challenged them in the past, and Robin Young (Here and Now) even allowed me to be interviewed on her show. Unfortunately, that interview was intended to show that they are diverse, but that was the only voice of conservatism on that show for years and years. And there is nothing wrong with NPR being liberal. The problem arises when those who hold, at their core, liberal assumptions and beliefs about the world proclaim their neutrality. When you are incapable of discovering your own assumptions (and the bias that comes with said assumptions) then you are incapable of being truly neutral. I have asked every NPR host and show I was able to poll everyone at NPR and discover their biases. Unfortunately, these requests simply lead to more invitations to be interviewed or to call into a show. It is inadequate to claim that a caller will, in any meaningful way, offer a truly balanced perspective. If NPR wants to impress me, then look inward, engage in some due-diligence, be transparent about your findings and implement programs that will continuously address the natural biases that humans carry with them in all things…and that need to be ferreted out of real and genuine journalism. But alas…I expect that this comment will be ignored…derided…or produce an invitation to call into some show.

    • Jeff

      Amazing comment, I agree 100%!

    • Brad Deltan

      “If you don’t know, with complete and absolute certainty, that NPR is liberal…and on its best day just left of center…then you are in no way a conservative.”

      By definition you just admitted that what is more likely is that NPR hasn’t changed at all, what’s changed is that the definition of a “conservative” has drifted far, far more to the right.

      • Todd Ericsson

        Not sure how you reached such a flawed conclusion.

        Those who claim to be “conservatives” in defense of NPR are simply right-of-center individuals who are most often fiscal conservatives and social libertarians (i.e., David Brooks is often set in contrast to EJ Dionne but that automatically sets the conversation left of center on all subjects other than economics). The use of these libertarians as conservatives leaves real conservatives out in the cold – since libertarians often agree with liberals on non-economic issues.

        Conservatism is about the preservation of the Constitution first and foremost. Not the interpretation adopted by the US Supreme Court, but the meaning in-fact embodied by the document itself, and the intentions of those who drafted it. Marbury v. Madison made sense in the context of actual ambiguities within the Constitution itself, but the US Supreme Court has gone much too far. Conservatism is offended by such judicial activism. Curiously, given just how far left the left has moved, many true liberals have come to embrace libertarianism, which has made for an odd contrast. Many of these now libertarian minded individuals now think of themselves as “conservatives”. This has then lead many of them to view those who are truly conservative as “extreme”. This in turn causes some to believe that NPR is “balanced”.
        My conservatism has been steadfast for decades – but I have certainly come to appreciate some of what libertarianism has to offer. This should make NPR seem even more “reasonable” over time, more balanced, and NPR was once relatively balanced. Unfortunately, given NPR’s willing conflation of conservatism and libertarianism, NPR has become increasingly more liberal; and, even more unfortunately, increasingly less journalistically professional.

        I understand the left’s desire to imagine that conservatives are more “extreme” but nothing could be farther from the truth. My conservative friends and colleagues have remained true to their principles and their convictions. My liberal friends and colleagues, on the other hand, have become much more extreme. Their views on race, gender, capitalism, etc. have become shockingly extreme – and in many cases irrationally extreme.

        There is little doubt that the over-the-top reaction to the Presidential election has produced much of the extreme behavior and sentiments we see in society today – however, the changes in NPR have been decades in the making.

        But again, this is not about whether liberals can be good journalists, this is about the failure of NPR to address the known biases of its journalists. This is about NPR taking more effective steps to ensure that local public funds (ultimately used to pay for the national entity) are being used to inform the masses in an impartial, unprejudiced, neutral, non-partisan, objective, open-minded, equitable and even-handed manner, and not being used to push a liberal agenda.

        NPR is now an echo chamber, and that is an insult to left and right.

        Not long after posting this, I had a conversation with a liberal friend who chose to disparage the Church and the Constitution in one sentence. My question back was simple, “When have you last read the Bible and the Constitution?” Her reply was, “I don’t need to read either one. I listen to the experts.” When I asked who those experts were, she named entirely liberal sources, NPR among them. That is an echo chamber.

        I have long wondered why liberals are so quick to defend NPR, without ever asking themselves why they are so comfortable with the NPR programming. The vast majority of NPR’s programming makes me uncomfortable (and is often offensive) but I still listen. Why? To avoid my own echo chamber.

        You should try it sometime. Listen to Pat Gray, Ben Shapiro, etc.

        Or feel free to reach out and we can chat about any or all of this. Godspeed to you in the meantime.

  • Dru Sefton, Current
  • Jim Mcculley

    Living near Brian dealing with him on many occasions I found his cultural tourism remark hysterical. He lives in one of the few pockets of 60’s hippies in this rural area. Where liberal group think is the norm. His community is the exception to prove the rule in most of the Adirondacks with several other areas where wealthy elitist have moved into to push out the local sub culture that NPR have such a distaste for. Brian if anything in this region is the same cultural tourist that he slams Ken for. The only differences is Brian doesn’t allow himself to embrace the culture. I am sure when the stupid un caring,volunteer fire fighter who supports Trump supporter shows up at his house at 3 am to put out a fire.he will embrace the culture for that moment.

    • Jeff

      I only found this article because public radio hosts were passing it around, patting themselves on the back, reassuring one another they don’t have a bias on Twitter. Of course, that’s the exact action we’d expect from a group that does in fact have a bias.

    • Dean Bruckner

      That’s what I was thinking. How many NPR staff and reporters go to church weekly? Does Brian go to church weekly?

      Single digits, and 97% consensus that he does not.

  • EastTex

    I actually agree with a good part of the letter to Ken Stern regarding the value of the book, excepting the main point of denial of a liberal bubble at NPR. I bought Stern’s book for my Kindle, but could only get through about the first quarter. The following is a quick review I submitted to Amazon, which was rejected for some reason – I’m guessing something to do with political position, which is hugely ironic given the subject of the book itself. I hate this leftist censorship crap, especially since I am a huge fan of the Kindle. Here’s the offensive review:
    ” I was really intrigued by the concept of this book, but the title, and especially the subtitle, totally misrepresented the content. The author never really got to know the Trump base at all, at least in the first quarter of the book, which is how far I got before returning it. A few desultory acquaintances with a few people whom I guess Stern considered representative of the base. I mean, really, a pig-hunting outfitter in Texas who obviously held this aimless fool in contempt, and Jerry Falwell, Jr.? Then, after a very sketchy outline of the encounter, he would fill the rest of the chapter with studies and statistics to halfway explain how he might have, just barely, and maybe not really, misunderstood people of the right, or not, because it’s hard to know if any of that really proves anything regarding gun rights, religious freedom, or blah, blah, blah. I wouldn’t waste my time.”

    • DCListener

      Maybe because you only read a part of the book?

      • EastTex

        Taking your comment as serious conjecture I looked back at some of my past reviews where I had also made the comment that I had stopped reading early in the book. I recall others’ reviews in the same vein. Looking at the Amazon guidelines for reviews I can only assume that it is more likely the muzzling of my kind by Bezos and the ever-more-rich-and-powerful Leftists. I hate that, because I really love my Kindle and Amazon is so convenient to we denizens of the backwoods.

  • How useful is the left-right or liberal-conservative dichotomy in the first place? Doesn’t this whole discussion point to the fact that such one dimensional models give one much guidence http://bit.ly/flatearther

    • Brad Deltan

      It’s extremely useful to ex-executives who have a book to sell.

      • Useful also to a comedian, Harmon Leon who published his own “Republican Like Me” book in 2005 (widely panned). Our political intuitions of friend or foe have their uses but can be much improved by the disciplines of science and reason.

  • Gregory771

    Having recently spent some time listening to right wing talk radio, I don’t wonder why conservatives see NPR as left wingers. Any show that bills itself as conservative might as well open with the ‘Horst Wessel Song’…. NPR isn’t left leaning, it’s sanity-leaning. Conservatives seem pretty scary to me, and conservative is how I would have described myself up to 2008.

  • DCListener

    I suspect those who work for NPR North Country Public Radio don’t spend a lot of time with their national counterparts. NPR is actually more centrist than they’re given credit for, but they’re hardly the vox populi that this author believes either.