On Inauguration Day, National Public Radio wanted to know how the Iraqi people would greet the American transition of power. On the afternoon talk show Talk of the Nation, host Neal Conan talked to NPR Baghdad Bureau Chief Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, and her street interviews led her to the idea that Iraq was unanimous: not a single Iraqi was grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship:
Any Iraqi that you speak to on the street will tell you, and I ask them this question, was the war worth it for you? Did this invasion, do you feel, give you a better life? And across the board, I didn't find one Iraqi who said to me, actually, I'm glad this happened. Most Iraqis have paid the price of, you know, if you want to call it their freedom, in blood, the blood of their relatives.
From the home page and the Most Popular list at NPR.org: National Public Radio took up the cause of social-realist art in government buildings on Monday's Morning Edition, and its ameliorative effects at the Justice Department. "This building is a sermon, a hymn to justice, a tour guide is quoted as saying. NPR Justice Department correspondent Ari Shapiro introduces the art as hymn: "That hymn includes verses that are progressive, controversial and even radical."
The main subject of praise is a mural from the 1930s depicting a lynching attempt thwarted by a courageous judge. Opposing lynching is hardly controversial today. But oddly, Shapiro finds a liberal expert who says this exposes "us" in modern America, even if our youngest voters were born in 1990:
"This is art really doing its work," says [Roger] Kennedy. "And it tells us what our country is really like. It's inescapably us: not somebody else, not the founders, not the 19th century. Because what illuminates the scene are two things: the flame of hate in the back, and the car headlights in the front."
Bill Ayers isn’t the only communist insurgent who’s greeted warmly by the national media. Tuesday’s edition of National Public Radio’s black-oriented talk show News & Notes carried an interview with Frank Wilderson, a rare American accepted into the armed insurgent wing of the African National Congress. The show’s host, former Newsweek writer Farai Chideya, tried to assist Wilderson in explaining how Nelson Mandela looked like a sellout to the South African Communist Party. "We were insurgents for an ethical reorganization of civil society and political economy. And in this day and age it's too easy to mark that kind of activity as a pure terrorist activity," he complained.
National Public Radio's Morning Edition celebrated the end of 2008 on New Year’s Eve with black commentator (and Huffington Post contributor) John Ridley listing the top "non-troversies" of 2008, which he defined as "what seemed monumental then, in retrospect has all the significance of a Dennis Kucinich stump speech." Ridley’s top "non-troversy" was Reverend Wright’s sermon clips about America deserving 9/11 and the U.S. government inventing AIDS. Ridley claimed he was only saying what the Robertsons and Falwells did:
And the number non-troversy of 2008? Are you ready for this? How dare Jeremiah Wright say the bigoted, hurtful things in the privacy of a black church that men of God like Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and the late Jerry Falwell said in public? Barack Obama denounces Wright, comes across as a rational black man, then delivers a historic speech on race in America and ends up in the White House. I mean, the whole thing worked out so well, I have a feeling that somewhere Wright and Obama are secretly sharing a cigar, swapping one of those terrorist fist jabs Fox News warned us about, and saying to each other, ‘We got 'em, baby. We got 'em.’
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
An environmentalist's dream might be a businessman's nightmare. But when it came to describing the the environmental team Pres.-elect Obama has assembled, it was sugar plum fairies for GMA this morning. Rachel Martin, who came to ABC from NPR, narrated the segment.
RACHEL MARTIN: They are calling it the "Green Dream Team."
Which invites the obvious question: who's "they," kimosabe? Running down the team line-up, Martin viewed things from an environmentalist perspective.
Josh Gerstein, a former reporter for ABC News and the New York Sun, blogged about how National Public Radio -- now laying off 64 employees and shutting down two programs -- has some perhaps surprising salary figures for a somewhat public media outlet:
NPR reported its five highest paid employees were: 1. Managing Editor Barbara Rehm, $383,139 2. All Things Considered host Robert Siegel [pictured], $350,288 3. Morning Edition host Renee Montagne, $332,160 4. Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, $331,242 5. NPR afternoon programming director Richard L. Harris, $190,267.
The most eye-catching salary ever reported on an NPR tax form is probably the $505,132 paid to broadcaster Bob Edwards in FY2004, the year he was ousted as host of Morning Edition, quit, and went to XM Radio. He hosted his last NPR show in April, five months before the end of the fiscal year, so the half-million dollar salary (presumably including some kind of severance) seems to have been for just seven months work....
The Washington Post reported Friday that Richard Cizik resigned his position as spokesman and vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals after he declared he was "shifting" toward supporting civil unions for homosexual couples in a December 2 National Public Radio interview.
Against the odds, GOP candidates in the state of Tennessee experienced a historic win. In addition to delivering the state to John McCain, Republicans won both chambers of the state legislature. And, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Sen. Lamar Alexander became the first Republican to carry all but one county in his re-election win -- even taking a quarter of Tennessee's black votes."
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.
On Saturday morning, National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday reported on a most unusual art installation in Manhattan – prayer booths, which look like little phone booths, but come decorated with a kneeler and hands folded in prayer. NPR sent reporter Margot Adler – the pagan witch – to address this issue, and she just happened to stumble across the New York City Atheists as she opened the story:
MARGOT ADLER: You couldn't find a place less conducive to meditation than this corner of 60th Street where cars are streaming east toward the 59th Street Bridge or down 2nd Avenue. And yet there are two prayer booths here a block apart. I'm surprised to see Ken Bronstein, the president of New York City Atheists, checking them out.
(To Bronstein): So you just happened to be walking by at this very moment.
KEN BRONSTEIN: I just happened to be walking by at this exact moment. But I always keep my eyes and ears open.
ADLER: And what Bronstein says is "art-schmart," this is prayer in a public place.
Former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page editor Chris Satullo, who in a July 1, 2008 editorial suggested that “America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday” on Independence Day due to the “waterboarding, the snarling dogs, the theft of sleep” used on some enemy combatants since 9/11, has been hired to become the director of news operations for WHYY, the PBS affiliate in the Philadelphia area.
Inquirer television critic Jonathan Storm, who wrote about Satullo’s hiring on Thursday, mentioned how William J. Marrazzo, WHYY’s president and CEO, complimented the liberal columnist as an “an outstanding journalist with a track record in civic engagement who understands this community like the back of his hand.”
This same “outstanding journalist,” in his November 9, 2008 column in the Inquirer, referred to the ideology of Sarah Palin supporters as “a rump conservatism that is small-town, resentful, anti-intellectual, and lily white” and praised “smarter analysts” such as David Frum, Kathleen Parker, Christopher Buckley and David Brooks, all of whom criticized the Alaska governor and/or supported Obama.
ABC's Steve Osunsami wasn't the only black reporter to get emotional and swoon over an Obama victory on Election Night. Ron Allen of NBC and Byron Pitts of CBS also let their pro-Obama feelings loose on election night.
In the 11 pm hour on MSNBC, as anchor David Gregory proclaimed, "We want to keep soaking up the moment from Grant Park," he turned to Allen for his emotional reaction to the win. He said America opened its eyes and its heart and accepted Obama's skills and talents:
I've heard so many people in the African-American community say that they wish that there was a father, a mother, a relative who had lived to see this day. It's something so many people have said.
Geoffrey Nunberg is a liberal professor of linguistics at Cal-Berkeley and has advised Senator Byron Dorgan and other Senate Democrats on their use of language. He’s the author of the book Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism Into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show. So of course, he’s also a regular on National Public Radio – as a commentator on language for the program Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
On Wednesday’s program he mocked the Republicans for reviving the apparently antiquated word "socialism" as a charge against the latte-drinking left:
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.
On Wednesday, the NPR talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross aired an interview about Sarah Palin with Michael Carey, columnist and former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News and public broadcasting host (of a political talk show called Anchorage Edition). Gross aggressively went after Palin on every front, including her "extreme" religious views:
GROSS: Sarah Palin's religious views strike some people as extreme. For example, in 2005, she attended a service at her former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, where a bishop from Kenya prayed over her, asking Jesus to keep her safe from every form of witchcraft, and he had claimed to have driven out a witch from his village in Kenya. In June, she told a group that his prayers helped her to become governor. Have her religious views been seen as extreme at all within Alaska?
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.
Lazy journalism at NPR typically causes a return to their default position: liberal bias. Such was the case yesterday. In the morning edition, NPR reported on the recent and unsurprising announcement that NOW--the National Organization For Women, an ideological & partisan group--would endorse Barack Obama.
Rarely does the National Organization For Women endorse a presidential candidate. On Tuesday, the group announced it is endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Kim Gandy, president of NOW, talks with Renee Montagne about why the organization is endorsing Obama.
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."
That “Made in America” sticker is looking more attractive.
Second-quarter (2Q) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised up from 1.9 percent growth to a higher than anticipated 3.3 percent, according to reports on August 28.
Rising exports played a significant role in the expansion. According to the Commerce Department, real exports increased 13.2 percent in the 2Q of 2008, compared with an increase of 5.1 percent in the first. Real imports of goods and services decreased 0.8 percent in the first quarter and 7.6 percent in the second.
Estranged family members come out of the strangest places when the lottery is won or someone has presidential aspirations. These quiet individuals find a sense of power never felt before in their lives when a blood relative hits it big or is about to hit it bigger.
In Barack Obama’s case, Vanity Fair reported on a half-brother who was recently discovered living in a small shack in Kenya. Obama’s relative lives on less than $1 a month.
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:
NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, lamenting her from the left. Co-host Steve Inskeep reported that a new vote on war funding "means Democrats get a reminder of something they have not accomplished. For a year and a half now they've tried and failed to end the war." Would that really be an "accomplishment"?
While the story aired current and dated declarations from Pelosi that Bush has his "head in the sand" to conditions in Iraq, NPR’s interviewer, KQED/San Francisco correspondent Scott Shafer, never asked if improvement in Iraq might have changed just which politicians look like they have a "head in the sand" to current conditions. But then, Shafer has a partisan background: he worked as a press secretary to San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and as chief of staff to Gray Davis when he was the state of California’s comptroller.
Shafer made no acknowledgment anything has changed since 2006, that the surge happened and violence is way down, but only that the death toll surpassed 4,000:
Now that the general election is apparently on, National Public Radio staffers and listeners are already bracing for the "rancor" that John McCain and the Republicans are going to unleash. On Wednesday’s nationally distributed Diane Rehm show, Rehm asked bluntly: "What kinds of comments, what kinds of rancor are we likely to see coming from John McCain as he goes up against Barack Obama?" Rancor is apparently a Republican product, and something that will never be emitted by the Obama campaign.
Several Obama supporters worried to Rehm that the American voters are dumb enough to be talked out of voting for Obama by right-wing rumor-mongering about Obama’s religion. One caller complained about how voters listen to "silly rumors on the talk shows, they don’t bother to ascertain facts." After another caller told a story of a houseguest who thought Obama was a secret Muslim, NPR political director Ron Elving said the American people are intelligent, but often uninformed. Former Time reporter John Dickerson, now with the liberal Slate website, added that Obama will have to deal with voters who are "willfully stupid" about his life history.
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.
NPR war correspondent Anne Garrels spoke to students at Northwestern University recently and acknowledged the widely held belief that NPR's on the liberal end of the media spectrum that holds Fox News Channel in contempt. But in Baghdad, the two media outlets formed what Garrels called the "most unlikely of partnerships." Reported the Daily Northwestern:
Garrels, who spoke as part of the Crain Lecture Series, said NPR had been struggling with power; they received electricity from Baghdad's grid for only two hours a day.
Someone from Fox News offered to share the station's generator with NPR, which Garrels said it initially rejected.
"My boss said, 'Not on your Nelly,' " Garrels said. "But no Fox, no power and eventually saner minds prevailed. People do help each other out in Baghdad a lot."