IN DEFENDING NPR against well-deserved charges of liberal bias, Tom Ashbrook has succeeded only in demonstrating his own political slant. I am generally a great fan of NPR, which is often the only place on the radio for in-depth discussion of contemporary events. But its clear liberal bias, far from promoting ''vigorous journalism," prevents it from seeing both sides of many important social issues.
If there is a Soviet-era outlook at NPR, it exists in the entrenched liberal mind-set of its own commentators. Why is the attempt to broaden NPR's viewpoint derided as ''meddling politics" and compared to the Kremlin? And why pointedly label Tucker Carlson and the Wall Street Journal ''conservative" while avoiding any such label for the liberal Bill Moyers? I agree that we need more reporting, not more music, and that NPR should be ''journalistically critical to all." Apparently it hasn't occurred to Ashbrook that this critical eye should be extended to NPR as well.