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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Bias on Public Broadcasting Bias
Topic: Media Research Center
In a Nov. 16 NewsBusters post noting a report detailing how former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated agency rules and procedures in trying to steer PBS and NPR to the right, Tim Graham makes a big deal out of pointing out that "Tomlinson hiring contractor Fred Mann to analyze PBS and NPR content is the first time in forty years that CPB has actually evaluated an individual program for balance."

But Graham doesn't offer the background of Mann, who was paid $14,170 to monitor alleged bias on the PBS show "Now." As Media Matters notes, Mann worked for 20 years at the National Journalism Center, an organization that counts among the alumni of its training programs Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter.

And Mann's "contractor" work makes Graham's MRC look like meticulous by comparison. From Media Matters:

In a June 20 speech on the Senate floor, [North Dakota Sen. Byron] Dorgan said that he had received the "raw data" Mann provided Tomlinson and was "struck and disappointed" by the methods he used in conducting the study. For example, Mann labeled certain segments of the show "anti-Bush," "anti-DeLay" and "anticorporation." In addition, Mann classified all the guests appearing on NOW as either "conservative" or "liberal," labeling Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as "liberal." Dorgan inferred that Hagel had "apparently said something that wasn't completely in sync with the White House" and concluded: "That is not the prism through which someone should evaluate whether something makes sense."

Graham also claimed that "PBS and NPR live up to their reputations for liberal bias on a regular basis," citing a special MRC link page as evidence. But that page doesn't prove much:

-- It's heavy on Brent Bozell columns, which shouldn't be confused with factual reporting or serious research;

-- It fails to note that the PBS shows "Tucker Carlson Unfiltered" and "The Journal Editorial Report," which Graham cited as examples of "balance" on PBS, in fact have a conservative bias; and

-- the frequency of articles is approximately once a month -- which hardly indicates an avalanche of bias examples -- and the most recent article on the list was written in June.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:03 PM EST

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