An editorial in the Arizona Daily Star says that the ongoing attempts by conservatives to shut down NPR may be off the mark, particularly because conservative citizens make up a significant portion of the public network’s audience.
The piece cites a poll from GfK MRI. It found that 37% of the audience self-identified as liberal, with 25% calling themselves middle-of-the-road and 28% calling themselves conservative. The remaining 10% were scattered among a collection of other smaller identifiers.
The writer, Fred Andrle, said he personally doesn’t hear rampant bias on the network, and cited a more familiar name, conservative talker Michael Medved to back up his position. In Medved’s stated opinion as reported by Andrle, NPR strives to play news straight down the middle most of the time, even if it doesn’t always succeed.
Andrle demonstrated an insider’s grasp of the funding issue. It’s not that NPR is funded by Congress – rather, most of its operating money comes from affiliation fees. However, many stations, particularly in small markets and rural areas that lack a sufficiently large audience base to keep the station going via listener contribution, depend on funding from other sources, including money from Washington through CPB.
If funding is drastically curtailed or cut off, many such stations would be forced off the air.
Andrle thinks it would be a shame for this to happen based solely on an ideological basis, since the polls demonstrate that the network’s audience crosses over ideological boundaries.