NPR could replace Vivian Schiller with Mother Teresa, and it wouldn’t eliminate the conflict created by state-sponsored media.
I’m a regular listener to NPR, enjoy the high-quality programming, likely share a lot in common (culturally) with other listeners, and at times sympathize with the network’s socially liberal biases. What I value most about NPR, however, is that it exposes me to points of view that often differ from my own and gives me knowledge to better defend my own perspectives.
Nevertheless, as both Schillers have demonstrated so elegantly, it is impossible to remove all existence of bias from news reporting. In fact, in political science, there is an entire literature devoted to media effects, agenda setting, priming, and the impact of biases on public opinion. We need an open and free media market that allows the voices of all citizens to be heard, without government propping up one perspective over another.
That’s why, as much as I enjoy NPR programming, it’s so important we keep the fourth estate separate from politics. When Washington gets into the business of news media, it threatens the free press that is so central to a healthy democracy.