Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi reveals a story that public broadcasters don't like to talk about: their ratings. They don't want to sound like they care (they certainly do), like they're obsessed like a for-profit company, or that they're taking market share away from commercial radio. But now, in tough times, NPR's rating success is leaking out:
The audience for NPR's daily news programs, including "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," reached a record last year, driven by widespread interest in the presidential election, and the general decline of radio news elsewhere. Washington-based NPR will release new figures to its stations today showing that the cumulative audience for its daily news programs hit 20.9 million a week, a 9 percent increase over the previous year.
The weekly audience for all the programming fed by Washington-based NPR -- including talk shows and music -- also reached a record last year, with 23.6 million people tuning in each week, an 8.7 percent increase over 2007.
The Post routinely leaves the public radio stations out when it surveys the D.C. radio landscape. But there are two public stations in the top ten:
The impending nomination of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has caused a complete mental breakdown among the usually punctilious ethicists in the media. Suddenly, there is no conflict of interest worth investigating, especially Bill Clinton’s multiplicitous foreign connections through the Clinton Global Initiative. Listen to the bow-to-our-king tone coming from NPR "news analyst" Daniel Schorr on Weekend Edition Saturday:
SCOTT SIMON, host: Does Bill Clinton become a complicating factor? Because he not only has financial interests all over the world one way or another, but in some ways, he's been conducting his own foreign policy campaign.
SCHORR: Well, somewhat. Well, he could be a problem but apparently he has satisfied Mr. Obama that he will not be a problem. He has surfaced everything that he got in the way of money from Arab and other countries for his library and for himself. He apparently has given promise that in the future, he will not do anything in his own travels around the world that will interfere with his wife as secretary of state. And if the president-elect is satisfied, I suppose we must all be.
Although the audio that recently emerged of Sen. Barack Obama discussing "redistributive change" came from an interview he did with Chicago Public Radio, National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on Monday as well as "Morning Edition" on Tuesday completely ignored the audiotape of Obama's 2001 interview.
During his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday, Sen. John McCain specifically addressed the recently surfaced audio and even quoted Obama as saying, "One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."
Nevertheless, during Monday's "All Things Considered" report on McCain's campaigning in Ohio, there was no mention of the audiotape or of McCain using Obama's own words against him. Instead, the broadcast focused on McCain's argument that one party ruling the country would be disastrous.
National Public Radio may win the prize as the national media outlet that’s most enthusiastic about a collapse of high finance on Wall Street. On Tuesday night, NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered publicized the delighted reaction of Venezuelan socialist strongman Hugo Chavez, as reporter Tom Gjelten explained that "free-market fundamentalism" was falling out of favor, and the crisis may mean the "end of Reagan-Thatcherism." It may lead to less "economic preaching" about a "free-market gospel" from Washington. All the story’s experts were critical of "free-market ideologues," with no room for a debate.
Gjelten is married to ABC reporter Martha Raddatz, who also used to work at NPR.
MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. At least one world leader is taking some pleasure in the turmoil on Wall Street. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said today that this week's meltdown shows the free-market approach long promoted by the United States has, in his words, "collapsed." Chavez may be overstating the case, but as NPR's Tom Gjelten reports, the current financial crisis is causing some rethinking of the free-market gospel, especially in Latin America.
If the first woman ever nominated Vice President by a major political party left the door open to voting for the second such woman EVEN if she was in the opposing political party, would that be newsworthy?
Well, on Saturday, Geraldine Ferraro told NPR that she hasn't decided who she's going to vote for in November, while also stating that whatever Sarah Palin doesn't know about foreign policy "she will learn very quickly - she seems smart enough."
As Congress takes new aim at speculators for the high price of gasoline, some media reports seem to be following suit. But as The Biz Flog explains this week, there is considerable debate over whether speculators should be blamed for the high cost of oil.
June 23, the same day Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee condemned oil speculators, the "CBS Evening News" and ABC's "World News" blamed oil speculation for a large chunk of the spike in prices.
"There's no doubt speculation plays a role in the skyrocketing price, but how much?" ABC correspondent Ryan Owens said June 23. "Experts say if it were just simple supply and demand a barrel would cost $75. Today it closed north of $135."
Scott Horsley explained oil speculation on June 29 for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," where he pointed out that there have always been financial players in the oil market and there is still a debate over what influence they really have.
Mass murder in real concentration camps in the Soviet Union are ancient history to National Public Radio, but the cause of poor, blacklisted communists in Hollywood charging America was a concentration camp is still a fresh and poignant soundbite. On the June 17 edition of All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block championed a forthcoming new documentary about communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, made by Peter Askin and Trumbo’s son Christopher and featuring big celebrities like Michael Douglas. Block made no mention of Trumbo’s actual Communist Party membership in the age of Stalin, and nowhere in the interview was there even a whisper of an alternative historical point of view, from Ronald Radosh to Kenneth Billingsley.
Block could only lament once again this alleged persecution of communists, once again utterly free of the irony that communists specialized in persecution everywhere they came to power:
On Sunday, I mentioned that the Saturday night version of NPR’s All Things Considered was a pacifist’s dream. It was also a Bush-basher’s delight. Leftist actor John Cusack explained his new anti-war comedy (read: the next box office flop) this way: "The ideology behind this war is so radical and it's so destroying the country that I think a somber serious take on it would just add to the sense of depression and inevitable doom that this administration has unleashed on the country."
Cusack added War Inc. was Bush-inspired: "And the argument of the Bush administration is that there's nothing, no function of state, there's no national interest that is not a corporate interest. Everything is to be privatized, everything is to be -- the core function of government is to create the optimal conditions for a feeding frenzy."
It’s probably a good thing Cusack didn’t try to argue the Bush administration lied its way into war, since Cusack charmed and tickled his NPR interviewer by explaining how they basically lied to major companies seeking to use their corporate logos for mockery by filing innocuous requests, not telling the Financial Times, for example, that their logo was going to be put on the side of a tank for laughs.
Saturday night’s All Things Considered on National Public Radio came to an overtly pacifist conclusion. Substitute host Guy Raz (an NPR Defense Department correspondent) conducted a seven-minute interview with John Cusack on his satirical anti-war, anti-Bush film "War Inc.", and Cusack predictably denounced the war and Bush as absurd. Then came a six-minute interview with a smitten John Lennon fan who’s hoping to make a half-million dollars auctioning the original hand-written lyrics to "Give Peace a Chance," since she was there in Montreal for the original "bed-in" protest that produced the anthem. Then, as the music continued, Raz unloaded a little editorial.
Raz decided to read from Dwight Eisenhower, a "man who knew war better than most," on the need for peace: "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it."
As part of their post-mortem for the zombified Hillary Clinton campaign, National Public Radio is blaming the media (including talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and Fox's Neil Cavuto and Bill Kristol) for demeaning Hillary Clinton "pioneering candidacy" with sexist coverage during her race for the White House. On Wednesday’s Morning Edition, media reporter David Folkenflik interviewed male political reporters (Richard Stevenson of the New York Times and Chuck Todd of NBC) and liberal feminists (Dee Dee Myers and Susan Estrich) to recount Hillary’s burdensome struggles with cackle coverage:
FOLKENFLIK: But journalists and pundits do constantly describe Clinton in different terms than they would her male rivals. In the following clip, Fox News pollster Frank Luntz was asking voters what kind of campaign they wanted Obama and Clinton to wage.
FRANK LUNTZ (Pollster, Fox News): How many of you want them to really argue? Raise your hands. And how many of you want them to make love to each other?
FOLKENFLIK: Just try imagining John McCain and Mike Huckabee in that scenario, or Joe Biden and these remarks by conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
Did Hillary’s misty talk of how much she loved America and wanted to reverse the Bush administration help her win in New Hampshire? NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday night went looking for women voters who were moved. Co-anchor Melissa Block interviewed three Hillary voters in Manchester: "Do you think that the polls underestimated women here?" One said: "I think they really, really did.
On NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered on Tuesday night, anchor Melissa Block talked to primary voters in Milford, New Hampshire, and the liberal ones were very expressive. One touted Hillary as "Mother Earth...a mother to take care of the country," and another broke down into tears at the similarities in the hopes inspired by Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy. She began with Steven Shaheen, making no effort to confirm or deny whether he was related to former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen:
STEVEN SHAHEEN: I just feel the country needs a woman to run this country. I think it needs like a Mother Earth. It needs a mother to take care of the country.
BLOCK, struck by the analogy: Mother Earth.
SHAHEEN: That’s how I feel, I mean, personally. She struck me as the person with more experience, she seems, you know, with a lot of intelligence, a lot of education, and it's a gut feeling inside — can't really put words to that.
The Laura Ingraham radio show began Wednesday morning with a red-hot burst of outrage at yesterday's National Public Radio debate with the Democratic presidential candidates. She called it "an underreported treasure trove of idiocy" and said the broadcast completely lived up the boutique-liberal NPR stereotype -- which is why it was underreported by the rest of the media.
The show began with an NPR question on why America is so hated in the Muslim world, which couldn't be a bigger softball to Joe Biden, and the rest of the candidates, who quickly blamed the Bush administration for the unsettled Muslim world.
The lead-in to NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered last night was all ‘crazy neocon’ Iran quotes last night from the candidates. (They play the theme song, and then you get that featured soundbite or set of soundbites). Sadly, that’s not on the NPR website, but the two-hour debate is here.
Back in March, liberals tried to make a major controversy out of Rush Limbaugh’s parody of Al Sharpton singing "Barack the Magic Negro" (to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon") even though it borrowed the "magic negro" term from a black writer in the Los Angeles Times. Critics thought it was racist and made Sharpton sound like an idiot. One blogger called for station managers to drop Limbaugh and this "worst kind of vile, demeaning garbage." It even became a news story on NBC.
But what about when the left does a similar kind of satire against Clarence Thomas – and on National Public Radio, no less? On October 1, the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a parody by Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, using ethnic and racial stereotyping for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and Thomas. Scalia is pitched as the Godfather (complete with notes from the "Godfather" soundtrack) and Thomas is mocked as Scalia’s goon, who repeats everything Scalia says and even calls him "Boss." Fake Thomas also seems well-versed in the signals of public-restroom sex. (You have to hear it to believe it. Audio here.)
News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast. The "feminine divine" in question was 9-year-old Sajani Shakya. Anchor Michele Norris proclaimed "she is a goddess, or Kumari, venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," who was visiting Washington as part of the Silverdocs film festival. NPR reporter Neda Ulaby began:
ULABY: The goddess is, frankly, a little jet-lagged. But adorned with golden saffron robes and a ceremonial third eye painted on her forehead, she's the most majestic 9-year-old this classroom of American kids has ever met.
It has been over three weeks since the fundamental claim of the "Food Stamp Challenge" was debunked, first by Mona Charen in her syndicated column, then in more detail by yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Yet the "Food Stamp Challenge" has spread.
As noted in this NPR report from April 23, it all started in Oregon. That state's governor, Ted Kulongoski, joined in and put on quite a show, getting plenty of Old Media attention (Associated Press; New York Times [may require free registration]) as he tried to buy a week's worth of groceries with $21, because that was said to be what "the state’s average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries."
The Challenge's claim that the average Food Stamp recipient's benefit of $21 per person per week is all that beneficiaries have available for purchasing food is incorrect, as anyone visiting the USDA's web site could have learned very easily.
As I noted in late April, the Food Stamp Program’s "Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits" provides a table of "Maximum Monthly Allotments" (i.e., benefits), and says the following about benefit levels (bold is mine; I converted the Monthly Allotments to weekly allotments per person by dividing by the average number of weeks in a month [4.345], and then by the number of people):
Yesterday, a friend from Los Angeles called. The person is successful, known, part of the entertainment industry. Jerry Falwell is, my friend said, the reason I can't call myself a Christian in Hollywood. He is what everyone thinks to that when they hear the word Christian. That may well be Jerry Falwell's most enduring and most troubling legacy. Jerry Falwell almost single-handedly blurred the line between Jesus and conservative politics to the detriment of both.
Tom Tancredo has become well-known as the country’s most energetic Congressman against illegal immigration. He’s now running for president on that issue. National Public Radio also has a deeply ingrained reputation – as a taxpayer-subsidized network of gooey liberals. They speak in tones so sleep-inducing that their programs should be regarded as a potential traffic hazard.
On April 1, these two legends met, and sparks flew. The program was Sunday’s "All Things Considered" broadcast, hosted by Debbie Elliott. The trouble began at hello: Elliott introduced Tancredo as a man who "gained national prominence with his fierce opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens."
On Sunday night, when the movie An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar, its star, Al Gore, took the stage with a message about global warming. He called for people the world over to change the way they live, so that they have less impact on the environment.
Not so fast, said a libertarian think tank called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. They called up the Nashville Electric Service and asked about the bills for the Gore's 10,000-square-foot home.
In response to my earlier post today on NPR reporter David Folkenflik's report featuring Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Beck e-mailed me a statement late this afternoon to clarify that he in no way was criticizing Limbaugh in his interview:
"After conducting a 30 minute interview with me on the supposed topic of 'does conservative talk radio reach across party lines, and if so, how?' NPR chose to take a quote from me and use it completely out of context. The quote was not about Rush Limbaugh, which is how it was made to look in the story, it was in response to how the country is dangerously divided along party lines and how that division may be the death of us all. I was also commenting about my disdain for the breed of talk radio hosts whose sole AGENDA is get people elected; they are contributing to this division.
"As Rush said in the story, his goal is to attract the largest possible audience, and that's my goal as well. Rush and I are not "rival" talk hosts, as the story states, since my show precedes him on the same network, and we both work for the same company. I was disappointed to see how NPR chose to make it look like I was insulting Rush, which is something I would never do.”
Don’t go looking for balance on NPR. On their evening newscast All Things Considered on Tuesday, National Public Radio congressional reporter David Welna publicized an anti-war protest with six soundbites – and all six agreed that the Iraq War needed to end as quickly as possible. The protest was from a campaign called "Appeal for Redress," which claims more than 1,000 military people demanding the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. Welna was so easy on the left that he even described Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the story as a "presidential contender" -- which in sports terms, would be like calling the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a "World Series contender."
At least in AP's story on the protest, Kucinich was described as a "long-shot candidate for president." The Washington Post reported the forthcoming protest on the front page of Tuesday's Style section, but at least reporter Linton Weeks allowed some dissent from these self-styled dissidents:
As the religious holidays commence, people who preach tolerance worry that religious (or non-religious) minorities are left out. As Christmas approached and Hanukkah began on Friday night, National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" devoted a story to atheists, but not just any story. It was a story about atheists who feel that ridicule and intolerance of religion is just what this country needs. The message was simple: atheists look forward to when "religious tolerance is no longer tolerated."
Co-anchor Robert Siegel began: "Atheism has never gained much of a foothold in the United States. Barely one percent of Americans describe themselves as atheists. Now, a small group on nonbelievers has a new approach to getting their message out, challenging the faithful with a fiery rhetorical blend of reason and ridicule, especially ridicule..."
Commuting can be dangerous for a conservative if the car radio is tuned into National Public Radio. On Wednesday night’s "All Things Considered," NPR anchor Michele Norris interviewed ultraliberal Henry Waxman, now returning to his perch as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. He claimed that his return meant an end to investigative politics: "And oversight ought to be done based on our responsibility, not our political point of view."
This is simply bizarre, and NPR should know it, and not let it go unchallenged. But Norris did.
I recall an example from 1997, when the Government Reform committee was investigating how the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee accepted contributions from mysterious Asian donors. In the Weekly Standard, Matt Rees really captured how partisan Waxman was:
Hours before the AP released its videotape featuring just a voice of Gov. Kathleen Blanco insisting meekly that she didn’t think the levees had been breached, National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" aired an interview of Gov. Blanco with "ATC" co-anchor Michele Norris. (She pronounces it "Me-chelle.") Norris tells the listener the audio is a bit dated ("We sat down with her in New Orleans this week"), but her questions are incredibly mild and sympathetic, with no question of Blanco’s judgment or competence during or since the hurricane and flooding -- or her "Martha Stewart" state office refurbishing (see below).
Norris began: "The state’s been promised more than 10 billion dollars in recovery assistance from the White House, but Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco says the state needs much more help...She said lawmakers in Washington can’t fully understand her state’s needs until they see the devastation for themselves."
In a common, subtle move of media sympathy, Norris avoided airing her initial question, airing just the Governor’s answer, merely underlining the horror in the hurricane’s path. Blanco explained:
NewsBuster Tom Johnson has condensed his time reviewing NPR broadcasts for MRC (poor man) into an article for The American Enterprise magazine. His general theory is that NPR has traveled from a fairly radical past to a present in which it's fairly indistinguishable in its biases from the rest of the "mainstream" media establishment. Here's an excerpt:
Most old-school or throwback leftist bias on NPR falls into one of three categories, listed below in ascending order of importance.
The first contains examples of a frequently amusing sociopolitical exoticism. In October 2004, for example, All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block referred to Ralph Nader as a "major" Presidential candidate. A few days after the election, reporter Pam Fessler gave "international monitors" plenty of time to gripe about how voting rules in the U.S. vary from state to state.
National Public Radio provided publicity to the leftist website Salon.com on three shows Thursday for their release of previously unseen (if not notably different) pictures of American abuses at Abu Ghraib. Nowhere in their three dollops of publicity did NPR label Salon as liberal or left-wing, or explain that they oppose President Bush and the war in Iraq.