David Bauder, AP, October 3, 2006
New York — PBS’ “NewsHour” tilts too heavily toward Republican white men in its sources and needs to do a better job promoting diverse points of view, a watchdog group said in a report issued on Tuesday.
Two-thirds of the partisan sources appearing on Jim Lehrer’s nightly newscasts between October 2005 and March 2006 were Republican, and 82 percent were men, said the liberal advocacy organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
The show works hard to reflect diversity, PBS spokesman Rob Flynn said. But with Republicans in power in both the White House and Congress, it’s only natural that they will be seen more in a news program, he said.
FAIR’s researchers found minorities used as sources 15 percent of the time, even though they make up 31 percent of the population. Hurricane Katrina sources, mostly victims of the flood, make up about half of those sources, he said.
In stories about the Iraq war, people who advocate a U.S. withdrawal were outnumbered by more than five-to-one, the liberal group said. Its researchers said they couldn’t find a single peace activist had appeared on “NewsHour” during the six months studied.
“I think people in commercial broadcasting, and particularly in public broadcasting, are constantly looking over their shoulders skittishly, worried that they will be labeled liberal or left-wing,” Rendall said.
Responded Flynn: “I don’t think we go one way or another to compensate for the bias of conventional wisdom.”