NPR Makes Time for Veterans Day Tribute...to Obama

On Friday, NPR's Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep marked Veterans Day by inviting in Eric Shinseki, Obama's secretary of veterans affairs. But the main person honored was not a veteran. Instead, it was President Obama.

NPR brought on Shinseki to hail "the president stepping out and leading in this area, trying to provide incentives for hiring young veterans. And this is the jobs bill. This is his speech in August at the American Legion. We won't balance this budget on the backs of veterans. I mean all very, very strong statements."  This may not be surprising, but there's no record of NPR going out to interview the veterans affairs secretary on Veterans Day in the Bush years.

Inskeep did interview Shinseki two years ago -- on November 13, 2009. An NPR listener on Friday would have found the Secretary's chat just as an administration PR officer would want it: a retired Army general still caring for the troops.

INSKEEP: Just before this Veteran's Day, we sat down with retired Army General Eric Shinseki. He's now secretary of Veteran's Affairs and he had a piece of paper in his hand, an essay written by an Iraq War veteran as he applied to college. The veteran wrote of his experience overseas.

ERIC SHINSEKI: Six months into the tour, I was a turret gunner, our vehicle drove over a roadside bomb. Initial report listed me as killed in action. I had broken every bone in my right leg, shattered my knee, cracked my pelvis open, had traumatic brain injury. Two years and more than 15 surgeries later, I'm ready to start down a new path.

INSKEEP: Those are the words of Evan Cole(ph) , who was accepted to college. They were read there by Eric Shinseki, whose job is to help veterans start down that new path. We spoke with the secretary at a moment when many veterans are struggling to get into school or get a job.

SHINSEKI: It is true that for our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, at 12.1 percent unemployment, they exceed the national rate by about three percentage points. And I think this is why we hear the president stepping out and leading in this area, trying to provide incentives for hiring young veterans. And this is the jobs bill. This is his speech in August at the American Legion. We won't balance this budget on the backs of veterans. I mean all very, very strong statements.

NPR is far too polite toward Obama to suggest that perhaps his failure to nudge the unemployment downward is hurting veterans, so you can't exactly honor him for achieving something for them in the job market. The closest the interview came to the economy still stinking was in wondering why the vets have a higher unemployment rate right now:

INSKEEP: Large corporations like to take in people who have worked in a very large organization that seems to function well. Why wouldn't that be holding true now?

SHINSEKI: Tough economic times. Toughest in my lifetime.

Somehow Gen. Shinseki was born after the Carter Misery Index years? Since Obama's been president now for 33 months, doesn't he bear some blame for a "toughest in my lifetime" economy?  Not on NPR. They know who's giving them money -- both liberal politicians and liberal listeners who donate.

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