NPR Omits Liberal Affiliation of Pro-'All American Muslim' TV Critic

Tuesday's Morning Edition on NPR slanted toward TLC's controversial "All American Muslim" series by playing sound bites from two who support the reality TV show versus only one opponent. Correspondent Elizabeth Blair also failed to mention that one of the supporters works for the left-leaning Center for American Progress, while clearly identifying the opponent as being from a "conservative" group.

Host Renee Montagne noted in her introduction to Blair's report that "criticism against the home improvement chain Lowe's isn't letting up. It started after Lowe's dropped its ads from the reality TV show, 'All-American Muslim,' in response to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Now, an online petition has nearly 20,000 signatures, calling on the store to reinstate the ads."

The reporter continued that "'All-American Muslim' follows the daily lives of five Arab-American families in Dearborn, Michigan." After playing a clip from the series, she outlined that "some of the women wear head-scarves, some don't. There's a newlywed couple and families with children. There's a police officer and a high school football coach."

Blair then turned to Alyssa Rosenberg, whom she identified as a "blogger for The Atlantic.com," as her example of the "lots of TV critics...[who] really like the show." Rosenberg stated that she "expected it to be, you know, another sort of cheesy reality show, but it's a really diverting, charming, domestic drama."

What the NPR correspondent didn't disclose is how Rosenberg is the culture blogger for ThinkProgress.org, which describes itself as "a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund....Through this blog, CAPAF seeks to provide a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies." On Monday, the blogger wrote an item titled "The Cowardice of Lowe', And the Bigotry of 'All American Muslim' Bashers," where she claimed that the home improvement chain "has managed to give the impression that they’re rather aggressively folding to virulent Islamophobes."

On the other hand, Blair clear identified her one opponent of the TLC show, David Canton, as being from the "conservative Florida Family Association." The reporter managed to balance the total number of sound bites from supporters and opponents at three each, but she ended the report with a sympathetic line, which quoted from Rosenberg: "An advertising boycott campaign can be harmful to a show that isn't very good to begin with, says critic Alyssa Rosenberg. But, she says, that's not the case with 'All-American Muslim.'"

The full transcript of Elizabeth Blair's report from Tuesday's Morning Edition:

Elizabeth Blair, NPR Correspondent; Image Taken From http://platial.typepad.com/news/2006/04/platial_on_nprs.html | NewsBusters.orgRENEE MONTAGNE: Criticism against the home improvement chain Lowe's isn't letting up. It started after Lowe's dropped its ads from the reality TV show, 'All-American Muslim,' in response to pressure from a conservative Christian group. Now, an online petition has nearly 20,000 signatures, calling on the store to reinstate the ads. Lowe's, in a statement, says simply, it is committed to diversity.

NPR's Elizabeth Blair has the story.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: 'All-American Muslim' follows the daily lives of five Arab-American families in Dearborn, Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (taken from TLC's "All American Muslim"): Dearborn is a whole other world, number one most concentrated community of Arabs outside the Middle East.

BLAIR: Some of the women wear head-scarves, some don't. There's a newlywed couple and families with children. There's a police officer and a high school football coach.

Lots of TV critics, like Alyssa Rosenberg, a blogger for The Atlantic.com, really like the show.

ALYSSA ROSENBERG: I expected it to be, you know, another sort of cheesy reality show, but it's a really diverting, charming, domestic drama.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (taken from TLC's "All American Muslim"): I'm very worried about my wife now, in the effect that, you know, with this whole pregnancy, she's becoming a little bit more stressed, and she's becoming very sensitive to a lot of things.

BLAIR: The conservative Florida Family Association doesn't like the show.

DAVID CATON: Our concern with 'All-American Muslim' is it does not accurately represent the term 'Muslim,' which is a follower of Islam.

BLAIR: David Caton is the group's president.

CATON: And a follower of Islam believes in the radicalization- use of Sharia law, which provides for honor killings, mutilation of women, and numerous other atrocities to women.

BLAIR: And when they called for advertisers to boycott, Lowe's pulled its commercials.

IMAD HAMAD: This is funny and stupid at the same time.

BLAIR: Imad Hamad is the Michigan director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.


HAMAD: This is a series about American Muslims in America, and what he's looking for, they are not in America. If he wants a documentary or a series about extremists in different parts of the world, then the focus and the spin is totally different.

BLAIR: The Florida Family Association sent letters to more than 80 advertisers. David Caton claims that, in addition to Lowe's, dozens of other companies have also pulled off the show.

CATON: Home Depot was the first company to send an e-mail to us and say we're not going to advertise again on the program.

BLAIR: Not so, says a spokesperson for Home Depot. Caton also claims Pernod Ricard pulled its advertising. Not exactly, says the liquor company. Both companies say they just didn't have any ads scheduled on any upcoming episodes. TLC says it stands by 'All-American Muslim.'

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2 (taken from TLC's "All American Muslim"): In our culture, we don't normally have a rehearsal dinner. So having that opportunity to have both families come together ahead of the wedding, it's like going to a family barbeque.

BLAIR: An advertising boycott campaign can be harmful to a show that isn't very good to begin with, says critic Alyssa Rosenberg. But, she says, that's not the case with 'All-American Muslim.' Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center