The New Road to Riches: Public radio! ...Minnesota Public Radio is resisting a state law requiring that it disclose salaries over $100,000 if it wants to keep getting state subsidies:
(excerpt from unlinked source)
[State Rep. Marty] Seifert said MPR would rather skip the state money than list its salaries. MPR had received state money in the past, and Seifert said the $500,000 salary of MPR's chief executive officer William Kling was one of the motivations for his legislation. [Emph. added]
National Public Radio's "Diane Rehm Show" is created at American University NPR station WAMU (88.5 FM), but is nationally syndicated to about 100 stations. Today's first hour tilted to the left. On one side was retired Air Force officer Randall Larsen, a founder of the Institute for Homeland Security, calmly arguing that the DPW deal is not a grave threat. On the other side was a pile of Democrats arguing against soft-on-defense President Bush: Sen. Chris Dodd, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, and P.J. Crowley of the liberal Center for American Progress, a former staffer on Bill Clinton's National Security Council. That's 3-to-1 liberal (unless you count the host and make if 4 to 1).
On Monday, Rehm's first hour focused on presidential secrecy, with an unopposed liberal duo of "historians," the former Washington Post reporter and columnist Haynes Johnson and Tim Russert's favorite pop-historian, former LBJ aide and Hillary pal Doris Kearns Goodwin. (At least Tuesday's show on voting rights featured conservative expert Roger Clegg.)
One of the annoying things conservatives discover when they spend any time studying public broadcasting is how much cash pub-casting bosses take home even as they beg struggling audience members for donations (and ever more taxpayer funds). The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Public Radio may forego $190,000 in state tax money rather than disclose how many MPR execs make more than $100,000. One sharp Republican legislator (my hero!) is saying you want the money, you disclose your salary info:
Thomas Kigin, MPR executive vice president, said MPR would ask legislators to change the law. Asked if it might forgo the state money should the disclosure provision remain, Kigin said, "It's possible."
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.
Over at Townhall, columnist Larry Elder wrote about an interview on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross." Most of the interviews and reviews on that show are about arts and culture, but politics are also a topic. It airs on at least 350 NPR affiliates across the country. Elder writes about her interview with former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin about the inappropriateness of the Bush tax cuts. (Audio can be found here.) He centers in on the liberal questioning:
Gross: "This is the first time, as far as I understand it, that we've cut taxes during wartime. What does the math look like, paying for Iraq while cutting taxes?"
National Public Radio's show "On The Media" continues to amaze. Last weekend (and transcripts go up in mid-week), the hosts mustered more outrage against Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican charging copyright fees than they could against Hamas attempts to put a public-relations veneer over their terrorist war on Israel. You could see the difference in the segment titles. The Vatican segment was titled "Pricing the Word." Hamas drew a cheeky headline: "Extreme Makeover: Hamas Edition."
Co-host Garfield began the papal fuss: "[A]s of this week, if you'd like to use a portion of the encyclical or any other papal text in a book you're working on, get ready to pay up, because quoting the Pope just got pricey. The Vatican Publishing House will henceforth impose copyright fees." He interviewed Vatican reporter John Allen: "This one took me by surprise. Charging to reprint the Pope's words – where did that come from?" Allen explained this is not a big change, but Garfield persisted.
Since it's a slow posting day, allow me to note how the NPR show "On The Media" aired a typically liberal commentary last weekend attacking CNSNews.com (a project of the MRC) for investigating Rep. John Murtha's military record. (Forget the idea that the show is "pro-journalism." They're obviously "pro-journalism that aids the liberal cause, anti-journalism that doesn't.") Co-host Brooke Gladstone attacked the story as "arson," not reporting:
And now a recent case in which reporters largely lived up to the old adage "once burned, twice shy." This time when would-be arsonists tossed a match, instead of fanning the flames, reporters reached for the hose.
Eric Lipton’s New York Times article on the congressional investigation into the White House’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina suggests that President Bush was foolhardy in thinking New Orleans had dodged the Katrina bullet on Monday, August 29, a day before the levees broke and plunged the city underwater.
“That night, after the storm passed, a report sent to the White House warned of a quarter-mile breach ‘in the levee near the 17th Street Canal’ and that ‘an estimated 2/3 to 75 percent of the city is underwater.’ Yet Mr. Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, in interviews after the storm hit, said they never expected the levees to be breached. They said that after the storm had passed Monday, they were convinced that the city had survived without catastrophic damage.
The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah McBride wrote an article in today’s edition addressing the increasing number of network news “stars” leaving television to become a part of National Public Radio. In an environment where ratings for most news programs are declining, and newspapers across the country are reducing staffs amid shrinking circulations, NPR’s audience is continuing to grow. As a result, as reported previously by NewsBusters, the largely government sponsored radio station has been attracting folks like former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite and former ABC “Nightline” host, Ted Koppel. Potentially the most fascinating aspect of this article is what it said about the current state of television media:
“Network news is increasingly generating prospects for NPR in part because some broadcast journalists think the networks are veering away from serious, in-depth reports. Many television journalists say they are fed up with the move toward consumer-friendly news-you-can-use and away from weightier subjects like foreign affairs and government. And many also see news of any sort as an increasingly low priority for their employers. For example, ‘Nightline’ came close to losing its perch in a humiliating 2002 episode when ABC brass unsuccessfully tried to lure in David Letterman's nightly comedy show to replace it.”
ABC and NPR are acting like kissing cousins. Ted Koppel, now retired from "Nightline," will provide commentaries for NPR, about once a week, the report suggests. He professes his love for NPR and how he's stolen many ideas from them. (This might explain some of the liberal bias on ABC.) His producer Leroy Sievers has been working at NPR in recent months, too. In recent years, commentaries on NPR have been less political than you might expect, but I don't think Koppel will record chats about making icea tea in the sun. I'd bet on John Chancellor-style pompous-windbag political commentaries. (You can see the genre is you scroll down here.) Koppel will also write (liberal) editorials for the New York Times. Oh goody.
National Public Radio released a poll recently with some rather startling results that the media are likely not going to share with the public. After months of focusing America’s attention on “scandals” surrounding Valerie Plame, I. Lewis Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Bill Frist, the nation’s mainstream press outlets must have been very disappointed to see the following numbers concerning the citizenry’s view of politics and ethics. The pollsters asked 800 Americans the following question:
"Now I would like to read you a list of issues and for each one please tell me whether you think George W. Bush or the Democratic Party would do a better job handling that particular issue. Improving ethics in Washington, D.C."
The results? 43 percent answered “George W. Bush,” while 41 percent said “the Democratic Party.”
According to the note at the bottom of his column, "John Merrow . . . reports on education for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS." [Emphasis added]
"Reports"? Then what was Merrow [pictured right] doing writing an op-ed opinion column distributed nationally by the Christian Science Monitor?
And what was the gist of Merrow's opinion piece, entitled "We need the voices of America's college presidents?" That America's college presidents aren't spending enough time being advocates for liberal causes.
Oh, to be sure, Merrow didn't quite put it in those terms. But it didn't take much reading between the lines to understand what kind of advocacy Merrow had in mind.
While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean's comments on Iraq, that the idea we're going to win is "wrong," an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don't bet on it. A quick search of the name "Howard Dean" in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O'Donnell: "The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war." That's the closest the networks came.
What if you live in fly-over country and read the national papers online, or bought copies across the country of USA Today, or the New York Times? If you read USA Today last week, you'd know nothing of Dean's comments. The New York Times mentioned them in an A-5 story by Sheryl Stolberg on Wednesday headlined "Democrats Still Search for Plan on Iraq." Dean surfaced in paragraph 13. The Washington Post was rare for putting the story front and center on Tuesday, in a story by Jim VandeHei and Shailagh Murray headlined "Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks" featuring Dean's comments in paragraph two, on the front page. How about National Public Radio?
NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared on this weekend’s Inside Washington that the House vote to extend the current tax rates on dividends and capital gains was “immoral” as she ridiculously claimed, in the face of ever-soaring entitlement spending, that Congress is cutting aid to the poor. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas backed her up, asserting that “we need to raise taxes...and who better to raise them on than the super-rich?" Totenberg argued of the tax rate extension vote: “I just think it's immoral to do that, not to mention fiscally irresponsible, when you're cutting people who have nothing -- from children off of Medicaid and mothers who depend on childcare losing the childcare and can't work. And then what do they do? Go back on welfare? I mean, it is, it's, I just think it's immoral." Columnist Charles Krauthammer tried to insert some rationality into the tax hike advocacy of Totenberg, Thomas and columnist Mark Shields, as he pointed ot that if the House position does not prevail and "you abolish" the current rate "you are essentially raising" taxes when that current rate expires in two years. (Transcript follows.)
Hot right now on the NPR website: Penn Jillette (the tall, loud half of Penn & Teller) expounding his atheism as part of "This I Believe" series on "Morning Edition." This is the hot paragraph:
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Concluding a probe prodded by Senate Democrats, the inspector general of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Konz, released his report yesterday on whether former CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson violated agency rules and procedures in his attempt to bring some (or any) balance to the routinely liberal on-air content of public broadcasting. Konz said yes. Stephen Labaton of the New York Times, who was hot in outrage on Tomlinson's conservative trail, tarts it up this morning with the headline: "Broadcast Chief Violated Laws, Inquiry Finds."
The report itself is tamer (although Tomlinson rejects it as inaccurate and political) reveals the classic split in CPB's statutory founding in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which both asks the CPB to protect pub-casting from political influence AND insure objectivity and balance in all programming of a controversial nature. What's happened instead, as Konz reports: the controversy over Tomlinson hiring contractor Fred Mann to analyze PBS and NPR content is the first time in forty years that CPB has actually evaluated an individual program for balance. (What the request for an IG report says to conservatives in Washington is: never, ever try again to balance out public broadcasting.) Tomlinson attempted to balance the Friday night lineup with "Tucker Carlson Unfiltered" and "The Journal Editorial Report." Tucker's show is already gone. The pub-casting newspaper Current says the Journal show will also end, on December 2. Bye-bye to the balance attempt...
On NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” this morning, the host’s panel members stated that the reason 55 percent of Americans surveyed in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll were comfortable with the way the CIA is treating captured terror suspects is because Americans either “don’t know the truth” or “don’t want to know what the specifics are.”
The discussion was focused on torture issues raised in Congress this week, and Matthews brought up this poll to demonstrate that a majority of Americans don't seem to be concerned by how the CIA is interrogating prisoners. Andrew Sullivan of the New Republic quickly responded, “I don't think they know the full truth of what we're doing.”
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused quite a stir by violating every international agreement in existence when calling - at a government-sponsored conference - to "wipe Israel off the face of the map." (The Indispensible MEMRI has the full text of the President-Kidnapper's remarks here.)
The MSM continues peddle several myths about Iran. Essentially, they argue that Iran isn't all that dangerous because it doesn't mean what it says, couldn't do what it says even if it meant it, and anyway, its problem is with Israel, not with Jews in general.
Turns out that apparently nobody in the MSM has bothered to check out the website for the conference, despite the URL's prominent place on a banner behind Ahmadinejad while he was speaking.
On NBC’s “Meet The Press” this morning, host Tim Russert stocked his panel with three left-of-center journalists – Nina Totenberg of NPR, Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, and David Gregory of NBC News – to discuss the events of the week. When they got to the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Russert mentioned that when Bill Clinton was president, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, despite obvious Liberal leanings, were approved by a strong majority of both Democrats and Republicans. “And they say, ‘Why can't we have the same courtesy to conservative jurists under President Bush?’"
In response, Totenberg said: “If you look at the Ginsburg nomination, for example, she'd been a judge, I think, for 12 years. She'd been, actually, a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.” This could be the first time that anyone has referred to the former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union as being “pretty conservative.”
As the discussion ensued, Totenberg expressed frustration with the president’s second choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor:
Rachel Sklar, an occasional New York Times writer who posts at Mediabistro's blog Fishbowl NY, goes over the deep end in rejoicing at the end of Kenneth Tomlinson's tenure opposing liberal bias (or more accurately, trying to bring on some conservative balance) on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
"The board does not believe that Mr. Tomlinson acted maliciously or with any intent to harm CPB or public broadcasting." I swear to God, this reminds me of a line at the end of "Cujo" by Stephen King, which I read as an eleven year old and made me cry; paraphrased it went something like this: "It must be remembered that Cujo never meant to kill all those people, biting and slashing at their jugulars. He always wanted to be a good dog." Stephen King said it better than me, but it amounts to the same thing: we can't all agree on what it means to be a good dog.
There has been a lot of outrage in the media concerning the burning of a couple of dead, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in early October. Yet, the Australian journalist who videotaped the proceedings, Stephen Dupont, stated in an interview on National Public Radio yesterday (audio link to follow courtesy of Bareknucklepolitics.com) that he believed the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong. (Video links to an SBS "Dateline" promo for Dupont's piece as well as an SBS interview with him on the subject also follow):
“I actually believe that the guys who were involved in the burning did it with honorable, you know, reasons. They did it through their orders, or they did if for hygiene. I had no doubt in my mind that they were telling me the truth. If they were doing something that was problematic or controversial, there’s no way they would have shown me this. There’s no way they would have let me go up there and film this.”
In his column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn notes that reporters seemed a bit allergic to mentioning that "militants" in Russia (after the latest violence in Nalchik) and elsewhere could be described more clearly as "Islamic militants," but that wasn't something they wanted to underline:
Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22. And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence.
George Clooney gave an interview to Village Voice critic J. Hoberman on his Murrow tribute film. Before Clooney passed on that esteemed film critic "Dan Rather loves, loves, loves this movie," he explained why he made it: "I was concerned about the lack of debate. The conception changed only in that a book came out about how great McCarthy was and how wrong Murrow was." Hoberman asked: "Ann Coulter’s 'Treason'?" Clooney said: "Yes. I realized that we had to be incredibly careful with the facts, because if we got any of them wrong, they could say it's all horse [poop]. So I had to double-source every scene."
But old CBS people who helped Clooney make the film (and who are portrayed in the film), Joe and Shirley Wershba, told NPR’s "On The Media" that Clooney didn’t get one scene right: the one where they worried that McCarthy could be right, and maybe the Soviets were penetrating the government. Heck no, they laughed:
Reuters reports PBS has named departing Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler as its first ombudsman, in an act which can only be seen as a defensive political strategy against conservatives. (The liberals are even upset at this tepid step.) The public broadcasting elite has been appalled at the naming of two ombudsmen at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- Ken Bode for liberals, Bill Schulz for conservatives. (Although that is a fairly quiet blog.) They prefer the NPR model (and the Washington Post model) -- one generally liberal ombudsman who rarely touches on conservative complaints, and usually finds them wanting when they're evaluated. This is Getler's record at the Washington Post. Liberal bias was not one of Getler's big issues.
For obvious reasons, the Left is typically very supportive of public broadcasting, since it's overwhelmingly liberal in its personnel and its political content. But Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, so far to the left that the average American liberal looks awfully conservative, is announcing a radical new solution: defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Why? Because the "corrupt" CPB board's idea that they should actually challenge PBS and NPR to attempt balanced news "compromises the independence" of pubcasters.
Oh, FAIR isn't calling for defunding public broadcasting. On the contrary, their pet idea is to RAISE taxes to provide an "independent" stream of taxpayer revenue. PBS types have tried to create legislative support for a massive endowment in the same vein. The key here is that the left wants nobody to be able to hold pubcasters accountable for the liberal (or hard-left) bias they spew with taxpayer money. They want you to put up -- and shut up. Already, Congress is deathly afraid of looking like they'd vote on the wrong side of Big Bird. The CPB Board is the only place in the federal government where someone might think liberal bias was an issue. So FAIR says, unplug it. Make the liberal bias blah-blah go away.
At a citizen journalism conference organized by The Media Center, Big Media institutions are quickly coming to the realization that they are no longer in control. Some are taking it better than others.
Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC World Service and Global News Division, told a conference the broadcaster's prominent use of video and other material contributed by ordinary citizens signaled that the BBC was evolving from being a broadcaster to a facilitator of news. "We don't own the news any more," Sambrook said. "This is a fundamental realignment of the relationship between large media companies and the public."
The good news for the BBC is that they won't have to produce all their own America-hating material, they'll be able to draw from the content of private America-hating contributors.
Another member of the opening panel, Farai Chideya, a correspondent for National Public Radio Inc. in Los Angeles expressed concern that many big stories may be affecting people who don't have broadband access to the Internet, resulting in a risk that they could be excluded from citizen-generated news. The big question, she said, was how to get people "in the caboose of the digital train" involved.
Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. NPR has had no problem getting people in the caboose in the past.
Yesterday on All Things Considered, correspondent Nina Totenberg noted conservative division on the Harriet Miers nomination and in passing described the cautious, positive reactions of liberal Democrats, but failed to affix the liberal label to Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer, who both cast "nay" votes on installing John Roberts as the nation's 17th Chief Justice.
Totenberg began her report by noting that in announcing Miers at 8:00 a.m. on John Roberts’s first day as Chief Justice, the President was "stepping on" positive PR and refocusing the media's political lens on Miers:
Normally, the story of the day would have been Roberts investiture with pomp, ceremony, and pictures of rambunctious children at the Court, instead the story of day was the Miers announcement, a story that left many conservatives privately if not publicly disappointed and Democrats poised for a fight that they may in the end forego. David Frum worked with Miers at the Bush White House in the first term. He posted an entry on the conservative National Review blog today bemoaning the Miers appointment as an opportunity missed to name any one of several outstanding conservative jurists.
This morning on NPR, host Ed Gordon interviewed Jesse Jackson concerning comments made recently by former secretary of education Bill Bennett about aborting black babies. Helpfully, Gordon asked Jackson if what Bennett said represented "a pattern that we are seeing in terms of growth with the ability to say this kind of thing (emphasis in original) in public?"
Knowing a softball when he sees one, Jackson dutifully denounced a "certain ideology in our country that is unfortunately sick and racist and dangerous and violent."
Newshound Ed felt no need to follow up by asking more about this "sick and racist and dangerous and violent ideology," but ended the interview with a friendly, "Rev, thanks for joining us."
The Corner reports that Nina Totenberg, the legal reporter for National Public Radio, wants the next round of confirmation hearings scheduled around her vacation:
"Nearby, Nina Totenberg, the legal reporter for National Public Radio, cornered the chief of staff of Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Totenberg was lobbying to schedule the next round of Supreme Court hearings around her vacation plans, which she had scheduled to coincide with her wedding anniversary."
Don't worry, Nina. Just write something in opposition to the nominee and drop it off with your editor before you leave.
A week after NPR’s Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, urged imposition of a “Katrina tax,” on the same show this weekend she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." She rejected the contention that would hurt the economy and forwarded the standard liberal class warfare argument that “if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare.”
Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, soon chimed in to point out how “there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes." He recalled how “Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes.”
Complete transcript of the remarks by Totenberg and Thomas follow. UPDATE: On another weekend TV talk show, the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift also looked to undoing tax reductions to pay for Katrina.