Public broadcasting is often a sacred cow in the media. Reporters don't often dig skeptically to find self-dealing inside the walls of PBS or NPR stations. But kudos should go to Paul Farhi and The Washington Post for offering such a story on Tuesday.
NPR listeners in the Washington metropolitan area get their news programs on WAMU-FM, based at American University. One of its regular features is called Capitol News Connection, which offers little newscasts within WAMU's regular NPR news shows. Farhi found a conflict-of-interest case, and notice how the adjective “public” can fall away from public radio:
As it happens, the founder and chief executive of CNC's parent company is also the wife of the WAMU executive charged with determining which programs the station airs.
WAMU officials say they see no problem with the admittedly unusual arrangement, which isn't mentioned in any of WAMU's public filings or press material about the program. The station executive, Mark McDonald, has recused himself from any dealings about Capitol News Connection, according to WAMU.
National Public Radio is strongly urging America to get over its apparently rabid case of Islamophobia. On Sunday night's All Things Considered newscast, anchor Guy Raz played audio clips of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin opposing the Ground Zero Mosque, and then launched into how much this resembles historic anti-Semitism:
In his column today, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof points out that in 1940, 17 percent of the population considered Jews to be a menace to America. Almost every ethnic group in this country has gone through a period of transition when they had to fight to prove that, indeed, they were Americans.
Rabiah Ahmed and a group of Muslim leaders thought their community had to do the same today. So this week, they launched an online video campaign called "My Faith, My Voice."
The secular-left stronghold of National Public Radio dumped on conservative Christians again last week. On the August 25 edition of the nationally distributed talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the topic was Christianity vs. Islam in northern Africa. Gross's guest was author Eliza Griswold, who Gross explained was the daughter of Frank Griswold, "the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America in 2003, when Gene Robinson became the first openly gay person ordained as a bishop in the church."
With those PC credentials established, Gross asked about Griswold accompanying Rev. Franklin Graham to Sudan in the Bush years, when Graham asked the Muslim dictator there for the right to preach the Christian gospel, and he was refused. But NPR's Gross was most worried that "very extreme" Graham was ruining America's reputation in the Third World:
GROSS: I guess, you know, I'm wondering, when Franklin Graham, who was perceived in the United States by a lot of people as very extreme, when he goes to a place like Sudan, establishes hospitals there, meets with the president, is he seen as representative of what Americans believe?
Even though liberal MSM types like Ron Elving, senior Washington editor at NPR, have a hard time understanding what's going on, they are giving credit for Joe Miller's Alaska GOP Senate primary (apparent) victory to pro-life voters.
But the title and opening paragraph of Elving's August 26 piece not so subtly tell us he thinks Alaskans have gone crazy...
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, during a discussion of the Ground Zero mosque controversy, after Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson recommended that the mosque be moved as a compromise, NPR’s Michel Martin – formerly of ABC News – compared relocating the mosque to similarly treating a Catholic church after the Oklahoma City bombing.
Even though McVeigh -- who described himself as "agnostic" despite his Catholic parents -- timed the bombing to coincide with the second anniversary of the Waco disaster to signal that he was motivated by revenge, Martin ridiculously responded: "Did anybody move a Catholic church? Did anybody move a Christian church after Timothy McVeigh – who adhered to a cultic, white supremacist cultic version of Christianity – bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma?"
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, August 22, Reliable Sources on CNN:
Todd Purdum, a former White House reporter for the New York Times in the Clinton years -- a man so impressed by Clinton's first press secretary Dee Dee Myers that he married her -- discussed his latest Vanity Fair article on how Washington is broken on the NPR show Fresh Air on Tuesday. Purdum's most noteworthy complaint is how the Washington press corps is mean-spirited, even "profoundly silly" in its "perverse rituals" of questioning President Barack Obama. (See Lachlan's blog, too). Dave Davies, the substitute host for Terry Gross, helpfully summed up the thesis:
DAVIES: In the afternoon, you say there's this what you call one of the most perverse rituals of the modern presidency. That's the press briefing. Why is it perverse?
PURDUM: Well, if what the congressional leaders do is Kabuki theater, what the press do is really it's really comic theater. It's opera bouffe (comic opera), I guess. But, you know, I used to cover the White House 15 years ago for the New York Times, and I went to the briefing every day, and I confess that I thought it was kind of silly then.
From his usual perch on the NPR show Fresh Air, liberal linguist and Berkeley professor Geoffrey Nunberg predictably sneered on Tuesday at Sarah Palin's use of "refudiate," and then her refusal to correct herself. He suggested she obviously doesn't read enough. "You have to frequent the places the word hangs out in, the kinds of books and periodicals that have semicolons in them." But he also tried to cover his tracks a little bit by suggesting eloquence is overrated in politicians:
Palin could have picked up refudiate from someone else or come up with it on her own. The question is why she didn't correct it along the way, before she got called on it and felt the need to defend it. After all, the course of our lives is strewn with abandoned misconceptions about words. I'm always struck by how tenacious these are. A word will go right past me five or 10 times before I suddenly have this duh moment. As in, duh, it has a 'c' in it. Or duh, compendious doesn't mean comprehensive at all.
But Palin apparently never had a duh moment with repudiate, probably because she hasn't encountered it often enough.
Initial requests for jobless benefits rose last week to their highest level since April, a sign that hiring remains weak and some companies are still cutting workers.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000. Analysts had expected a small drop. Claims have risen twice in the past three weeks.
It seems that not even the truth can possibly overturn the narrative that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have brought transparency to Washington.
Last Wednesday I wrote about how the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill Obama signed into law last month contains a provision exempting the Securities and Exchange Commission from Freedom of Information Act requests. Such an exemption would surely have been grounds for a media outcry during the Bush administration, yet apart from The Wall Street Journal and CNN, only blogs have been following the developments. The latter opted simply to parrot the administration's claims without challenge.
Other media ouetlets, such as National Public Radio and MSNBC, completely ignored the controversy, in stark contrast to their extensive coverage of the Bush administration's attempts to curtail the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. NPR's Don Gonyea said "When conflicts arise over what should or should not be open, the administration does not hesitate to invoke the memory of 9/11. And while it's true that 9/11 changed the security landscape, it's also true that the administration was tightening the control of information much earlier . . ."
Fox Business is reporting that the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that President Obama signed recently includes a provision that exempts the Securities and Exchange Commission from responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Fox wrote:
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
Several years ago, the media was confronted by several similar issues involving attempts by the Bush Administration to narrow the provisions of FOIA and exempt certain agencies from having to respond to requests filed under that act. The question that remains in these next few days as the media reports on this story is weather their response will be as condemnatory as it was when George W. Bush was in office.
In all of its Shirley Sherrod coverage this week, National Public Radio never managed to interview a conservative guest on the subject (other than a few tossed-in audio clips of Andrew Breitbart), although NPR never landed a Sherrod interview, either, despite her whirlwind tour. On Wednesday night's All Things Considered news program, anchor Michele Norris interviewed Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, who predictably scorned the right wing's "Fox obsessions" and "notorious smear artist" Andrew Breitbart. This judgment might be questioned, considering Alter wrote in 1996 it was a "weak case of media malfeasance" when his own magazine's sleuthing about the authenticity of medals spurred an admiral's suicide.
Norris offered Alter only softball liberal questions, allowing him a comfortable platform to promote his pro-Obama book The Promise while he disparaged the conservatives:
NORRIS: Let's set aside the specifics of the Shirley Sherrod case for just a moment and look at what this episode perhaps reveals about the culture of the White House and how it deals with race, and also the culture of the media and how it looks to, in some cases, exploit race for ratings.
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?
NPR's blog The Two-Way is running the apology of public-radio producer Sarah Spitz, who claimed to her fellow liberals on JournoList she would "Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" if Rush Limbaugh were dying in front of her. But they also wanted to insist that her ties with NPR were few:
In fact, Spitz has never been an NPR employee. For many years, she has worked for KCRW, a public radio station in Santa Monica, California, as a producer and publicist.
KCRW is one of some 900 independently-operated public radio stations across the country that air NPR's news, talk and entertainment programming. Like network TV affiliates, they air national programming but act autonomously.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
So much for the idea that NPR is an oasis of civil discourse in a desert of vituperation. Spitz is a producer for trendy-hot NPR station KCRW and its nationally distributed talk show Left Right & Center (which could be called Three Leftists and Tony Blankley). But Spitz has also done stories for NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered.
Few seem to remember now, but throughout the 1970s, the advertised threat to society from global cooling was as prevalent as the current global warming alarmism. Publications including The New York Times, Time and Newsweek - the same ones hyping the dangers of a warming planet in 2010 - were warning about global cooling then.
A prominent global cooler from that era has recently passed away. Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climatologist and United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change member died in London on July 19, as noticed on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." (h/t Tim Graham)
In an interview with NPR's Michele Norris, White House Science Adviser John Holdren remembered Schneider, not for getting the science wrong at first but for inventing this field of science, with its acknowledgement that mankind could change the climate.
George W. Bush’s linguistic difficulties, such as “Is our children learning,” “If the terriers and barrifs are torn down, this economy will grow” and “They misunderestimated me” made him the butt of many a joke back in the day, especially since they used to be played on cable news channels. Yet the current occupant of the White House—not to mention his vice president—does not seem to have found the media’s funnybone. Even Barack Obama’s teleprompter problems never got that kind of coverage, neither did that fact that his speeches are written at two grade levels below Bush.
Then there was the time in Februrary, when Obama mispronuncicated “corpsman” as “corpse-man” and the media ignored it, or when he said he had been to 57 states and they excused it, the mediahasjumped all over Sarah Palin’s invention of the word “refudiate.”
The word was coined on Fox News July 14, in response to the proposed Cordoba Center in New York City, a $100 million community center and Mosque three blocks from the World Trade Center site, but developed into a full-blown meme Sunday when she posted to Twitter:
Someone at NPR.org is feeling wildly optimistic about the political direction of President Obama and the Democrats. A transcript from Weekend Edition Saturday was headlined "Obama's Very Good Week." They summarized: "Obama scored a couple of significant victories during the week, earning a weekend break in Maine with his family. But it's not clear whether his wins will improve public approval." Not clear? When NPR anchor Scott Simon and White House reporter Scott Horsley discussed the polls, it wasn't a good week in the world of public opinion. It looked "terrible for the Democrats." Find the sunny side of this:
SIMON: And the skepticism about the president's economic program, if you take a look at the polls, its not just limited to his obvious political opponents, is it?
HORSLEY: Yeah, for some time now we have seen doubts about the stimulus program - widespread doubts. This week the White House released a report saying that the stimulus had saved or created as many as three and a half million jobs so far. But what the public is really focused on is that still painfully high unemployment, and slower private sector growth than any of us would like.
When President Bush nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005, the media did not hesitate to describe both men as "very conservative," but when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan this year many in the press couldn't seem to identify any liberal ideology. The Media Research Center has produced a video compilation of examples to further demonstrate the obvious double standard. [Audio available here]
During ABC's live special coverage of Roberts's nomination on July 19, 2005, then This Week host and former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos declared: "This is a very conservative man with a strong paper trail that proves it." NPR's Nina Totenberg could hardly contain her urge to label, using the word "conservative" several times during a July 23 appearance on Inside Washington: "John Roberts is a really conservative guy...he's a conservative Catholic....[President Bush] has given conservatives a hardline conservative."
The same labeling followed Alito's nomination months later. CBS's Bob Schieffer opened the October 31 Evening News by proclaiming: “Conservatives wanted a conservative on the Supreme Court, and said the President ought to risk a fight in the Senate to get one. Their wishes have been fulfilled.” Later that evening, on a special 7PM ET hour edition of CNN's The Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer described: "...there is a new nomination and new controversy. A battle shapes up as the president picks a staunch conservative who could help reshape the U.S. Supreme Court."
Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit mocked the curious turn of phrase National Public Radio Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving used on his Watching Washington blog to defend a recent NPR survey showing dire straits for the Democrats in the fall.
Beneath the surface, the NPR poll was all about the tyranny of constituency, the down and dirty of serving the folks back home. House districts (and states' legislative districts) tend to be intricately drawn demarcations of the folks back home...
That’s why the NPR survey, done by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Republican counterpart Glen Bolger, focused on the 60 Democratic districts likeliest to be lost to Republicans this fall.
The NPR survey also included ten marginal GOP districts that Obama won in 2008. What they found in these 70 districts was that respondents favored Republicans over Democrats, 49 to 41, and President Obama drew 40 percent approval and 54 percent disapproval. No wonder NPR-loving liberals were unhappy.
Elving's "tyranny" phrase was a reflection on Joe Barton's apology to BP:
Saturday demonstrated a staggering disparity in how media view those involved in the Gulf Coast oil spill cleanup.
While news outlets heaped scorn upon beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward for attending a yacht race in England Saturday, there was no such anger shown towards President Obama and Vice President Biden for going golfing.
In fact, as this Reuters piece illustrated, despite what our Commander-in-Chief was doing, it was perfectly acceptable for his administration to criticize Hayward's recreational exploits on his day off (h/t Hot Air headlines):
On Tuesday night's All Things Considered newscast, Michele Norris sadly relayed news of the Gore separation: "The Gores had a storybook romance: college sweethearts, four beautiful children. Their playful affection energized the campaign trail. The concession was you don't make that kind of stuff up. The Gores' union became a model of stability in a hard-charging town where partnerships, even romantic ones, are sometimes seen as a matter of convenience."
Norris discussed the matter with Rebecca Traister of the liberal website Salon.com, who said she felt "ashamed" and "sort of silly having an investment in a couple that you don't know," and that's when the inevitable secular-left analysis began: traditional, monogamous, heterosexual, reproducing marriage is an archaic social construct:
TRAISTER: And so it is a little bit like mom and dad breaking up out of the blue, except they're not really our mom and dad - and I am aware of that, I just want to make clear.(Laughter)
NORRIS: In some ways is the presidency and the requirements that presidents have solid marriages, is that a bit out of step with larger society, where almost half of all marriages end in divorce?
NPR's Juan Williams on Sunday spoke an astonishingly inconvenient truth about the Gulf Coast oil crisis: "[President Obama] just hasn't conveyed that he really cares about this issue, and that he's not off to the side watching."
This was in stark contrast to Time's Joe Klein who said this weekend, "This is more Bush's second Katrina than Obama's first," and New York Times columnist Frank Rich who on Sunday blamed the oil spill on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Rand Paul.
No, Williams, participating in bonus online coverage of "Fox News Sunday," made it crystal clear that unlike many of his colleagues in the Obama-loving media, he's not carrying the administration's water on this critical issue facing the nation (video follows with partial transcript and commentary, relevant section at 5:50):
Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative Attorney General of Virginia, came under attack on Friday night's All Things Considered on National Public Radio. This is one angle of Climategate the national media have noticed. But they pitch the battle as Cuccinelli vs. Science or Cuccinelli vs. Academic Freedom.
What's most infuriating is the notion that it's Cuccinelli who's "politicizing" science, and not Michael Mann's openly politicized e-mails explaining his data manipulations and plotting to censor his political opponents. Somehow, the Union of Concerned Scientists is painted as non-political.
Host Michele Norris began: "The University of Virginia says it will fight a demand from the state's attorney general. He wants the school to turn over private e-mails and documents related to a former professor's climate research. The case has sparked a national debate over academic freedom."
NPR’s All Things Considered aired a long report on Thursday night on nasty Internet commenters – but reporter Laura Sydell’s examples centered on anti-Obama and anti-Muslim commenters (including one who wanted Obama shot), and no one from the left (like the Huffington Post people regretting Cheney wasn't shot in Afghanistan). She began with a sympathetic sick family that favored ObamaCare:
LAURA SYDELL: If you want to know what it's like to get attacked online, just ask Miki Hsu Leavey. She wrote a thankful letter to the editor of the local paper when the health care bill passed. She has lupus. Her 24-year-old son can't get health care because of a preexisting heart condition and her husband was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Ms. MIKI HSU LEAVEY: So my thank you note was really about the relief I had mentally.
SYDELL: When Leavey looked at the site the morning it was posted, she got comments like this one.
Ms. LEAVEY: Oh, my poor baby is sick. Only the great Obama can save him. Makes me sick just reading it.
Sigh. Dionne tried to make the special elections sound like a great week for liberals:
DIONNE: I didn't know tea gave you a hangover, but I think Rand Paul's victory in Kentucky has already given Republicans --
SIEGEL: He won the Senate nomination.
DIONNE: -- he won the Senate nomination. And already, his rather pure strains of libertarianism is causing Republicans trouble. He seems to be against the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination at lunch counters and hotels and the like. So, that's going to be an interesting race to watch.
Novelist Marc Acito offered a perfect elocution of National Public Radio snobbery on Thursday's All Things Considered. In defending the defensible cause of proper English, Acito equated Palinesque populism with a complete lack of respect for the intellect. Acito even sang (badly) from My Fair Lady to illustrate his point:
You see, My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and both pieces explore the ramifications of learning how to speak properly at a time when elocution was valued as a symbol of education and upward mobility. Emphasis on the was.
Listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt say the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and it's almost inconceivable that ordinary Americans trusted someone who sounded like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island. We are now in an age when Sarah Palin speaks to a quarter of the electorate even though she talks like she's translating into Korean and back again. Even the rhetorically gifted President Obama has felt compelled to drop his G's while trying to sell health care reform.
Liberal media outlets were quick to pounce on the new Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky about his views on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not just Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, but NPR All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel on Wednesday night. The sharp questioning of Paul is a contrast with NPR's interview with Joe Sestak, the new Democrat Senate nominee in Pennsylvania in the same newscast.
NPR anchor Michele Norris glanced right past an important, newsworthy, unresolved issue in Sestak's race, from much more recent history: did the Obama White House bribe him with a job offer to stay out of the primary, as he claimed last year?
NORRIS: It's been reported that the White House at one point tried to get you to back away from this race. Who told you to back down?
NORRIS: And did that continue even after you started to gain on Arlen Specter?
In February, Congressman Joe Sestak, D-Pa., alleged that the White House had offered him a "high-ranking" job in exchange for him refraining from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in that state's primaries. Since Sestak defeated Specter on Tuesday, a number of media outlets have profiled him
The White House denies that it ever made such an offer, which means either the Obama administration or Sestak is lying. Either would be a huge story. Yet a number of major media players, including the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press, have ignored the potential controversy.
The Washington Post devoted 16 paragraphs to a glowing profile of Sestak. But at no point did the paper mention his allegations. The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes noted on Twitter that the piece in the Post "was about Sestak being difficult for estab/WH Dems. How do you leave out public charges he made about WH and job?" He also asserted that "If players/parties were different, it wld be at the top of the coverage."
Last Friday on TV, NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg touted Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as "spectacularly successful" -- twice. But that was mellow compared to her Tuesday report for Morning Edition, where she enthusiastically pitched her record as dean of Harvard Law School as a Superman legend (The audio valentine is here):
NINA TOTENBERG: In some ways, the descriptions of Elena Kagan as dean sound a little bit like the beginning of the old "Superman" TV series.
INTRO TO OLD SUPERMAN TV SHOW: Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands!
TOTENBERG: Translate that to Harvard, and you can almost hear the music. (Superman music in background)
On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington, NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg twice used the term "spectacularly successful" to define Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Host Gordon Peterson asked her what "we" know so far:
We know she was a spectacularly successful dean at Harvard Law School where she was the first female dean -- that she just moved the place, got it really moving again. Students loved her. She knocked heads on the faculty to get hires done. She was a spectacularly successful policy bureaucrat in the Clinton White House.
And what you see right now is a spectacular demonstration of hypocrisy where Republicans who loved the fact that Harriet Miers didn't have judicial experience, because that was kind of needed on the Supreme Court , now they say it's a serious deficit. And Democrats, who used to want to know about someone's ideology, now say 'oh, it's improper to ask.'