So Ron and Vivian Schiller are out at NPR. This comes in the wake of controversial decisions - such as the firing of opinion journalist Juan Williams for having the audacity to share his opinions - and a public relations... well, let's call it a snafu. While being videotaped by colleagues of James O'Keefe - he of the YouTube videos that brought down ACORN - Ron categorized Republicans as being "radically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamentally Christian," before launching a full-throated attack on the "radical, racist, Islamaphobic Tea Party people." He followed these comments with criticisms of the "Zionist coverage" that supposedly dominates the rest of the media before explaining the obvious intellectual superiority of liberals to conservatives. Having insulted the taxpayers that unwillingly fund their operation, Ron and Vivian were, to all appearances, politely fired. Ignoring the irony of a YouTube video bringing down the heads of one of America's great establishment media organizations, I have trouble believing this will have a great long-term impact on the way NPR is run. NPR's bias is not the result of the Schillers' influence, and their departure will not result in a profound shift in ideology. The truth is that NPR will always lean left. NPR produces news coverage favorable to liberals because it knows that if elected, liberals will protect NPR funding. By the same token, liberals protect NPR funding because NPR produces coverage favorable to liberals, thus increasing their chances of being elected. It's an obvious conflict of interest, far more so than corporate funding of private news organizations. Consumers at least have an impact on the financial success or failure of private news firms. They exert no such control over publicly-funded entities like NPR.
So while it's refreshing to see the Schillers given the boot, it's hard to imagine that we'll suddenly be treated to fair and balanced news coverage. For NPR, there's simply too much at stake to go down that road.