David Margolick has an interesting piece about NPR in the new issue of Vanity Fair. He spends much of his time on Juan Williams, but this observation about NPR‘s right-wing critics is an important observation:
Apart from the occasional stories about gays or Palestinians (and maybe even gay Palestinians), there’s precious little on NPR these days for conservatives really to hate. For them, despising NPR and cutting off what amounts to the few pennies it collects from the federal budget has increasingly become more a matter of pandering, or habit, or sophomoric sport, than of conviction or serious policy. The editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, once confessed to former NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin that he really didn’t believe NPR was liberal; he just said so “to keep you guys on the defensive.” And that still seems true.
As Janine Jackson pointed out here (10/7/11), when you hear about new NPR boss Gary Knell talking about his desire to “depoliticize” the debate, what he means is try to do more to placate people like Kristol. Since that’s not going to happen, the only real consequence is to push NPR to the right.