NPR Listeners Loathe 'Fox's Sleazy Reporting' and the GOP 'Propaganda Machine'

The producers of NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered deserve credit for reading listener mail on the air, often to make corrections in the broadcast. But there was really nothing but liberals in the mailbag on Thursday, all furious at NPR for not being strong enough in denouncing Fox News and Andrew Breitbart:

MICHELE NORRIS: Here's some of what you had to say about our coverage of the story. Frank Holk(ph) of Wytheville, Virginia, writes this: I found it distressing that you spent the entire time talking about the actions of the administration with barely a mention of Andrew Breitbart and Fox News. Holk continues: Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to discuss their role in the matter? How about a discussion of Fox's sleazy reporting and Breitbart's fraudulent video editing?

ROBERT SIEGEL: I could not be more furious. That's from Michael Walker of Mountain Grove, Missouri. He felt our reporting came up short, taking specific issue with our statement that conservative activists have blurred the lines between journalism and advocacy. Mr. Walker says: Andrew Breitbart has done no such thing. He has eradicated the line between fact and fiction, or if you will, between the truth and a lie. If NPR cannot call the actions of this prevaricating charlatan a falsehood, then who will?

NORRIS: But Phil Corsello of Denver, Colorado, believes Sherrod's firing revealed, in his words, an insecure administration. He writes: It was major for what it revealed, the White House's willingness to sacrifice one of their people before the facts were known in an attempt to quell the Republican propaganda machine. The action was, from the get-go, amateurish, unsavory and disloyal, not a declaration but a whimper.

Sounds like an outpouring on JournoList, doesn't it? The same sound came from callers and e-mailers to the NPR-distributed Diane Rehm Show on Friday. Politico reporter Jeanne Cummings kept denouncing Breitbart, but pronouncing it "Breet-bart" (as in sweet, instead of as in bright).

Here is the conclusion of Wednesday night's story by reporter Ari Shapiro with the blurred-line passage that infuriated Michael Walker, the man from Missouri as insufficient in its denunciation:

SHAPIRO: In the last year and a half, there has been a pattern of conservative activists blurring the line between journalism and advocacy, and doing it with striking success. An earlier Breitbart project led to the downfall of the community activist organization ACORN. And conservative activists helped to remove White House advisor Van Jones from his Green Jobs post. Breitbart described this movement in the NPR interview Monday.

Mr. BREITBART: The first 10 years of the blogosphere was basically a checks and balance on The New York Times and The Washington Post, and bloggers saying, that story is not correct. Well, what's happening now is that bloggers are starting to become reporters. They've said to The New York Times, if you're not going to report stories, we're going to report stories.

SHAPIRO: Of course, not all stories are created equal.

Translation: And some of us are professionals, and some of you are rubes.That's pretty snotty, especially considering that NPR has a serious problem with blurring journalism and advocacy. But it's probably the "striking success" part that infuriated the Left. It's ludicrous that the Michael Walkers of the world want a line between journalism and advocacy.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis