New NPR President Gary Knell made an appearance on their afternoon talk show Talk of the Nation on Friday (his first day) to give the appearance of transparency and responsiveness and to build morale after scandals such as the Juan Williams firing and the deeply embarrassing Muslim Brotherhood sting video, which led to several firings.
Knell just strained credulity beyond the breaking point by claiming NPR is not an advocacy organization, but a network of "fairness and accuracy and honesty," and it's "probably barred by our charter." It's correct that the founding Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 called for objectivity and balance in "all programming of a controversial nature," but NPR has followed that legal language about as seriously as Bill Clinton has upheld his marital vows. One might say this is a promising rhetorical start -- until you listen daily to the product right now.
Richard Harris wasn't the only NPR staffer wondering about the backwardness of America on Tuesday's All Things Considered. At the end of a completely supine interview with Barney Frank, anchor Guy Raz asked Frank if he was pleased at how far America had come from its backwardness on gay liberation from when he came out of the closet in the Reagan years.
"I want to ask you about a decision you made in 1987," Raz declared. "You went public to tell people you were gay. That was controversial at the time. Are you heartened at the distance America has come?" Frank said "without question," and said "prejudice" was very close to being eliminated in America:
On Wednesday, NPR's resident ObamaCare booster Jule Rovner spotlighted the left-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking poll on the law. Rovner indicated that 51% unpopularity for the legislation in October was merely a "blip," and played up how "the public is still confused about what the law does and does not do, more than 18 months after its passage."
The journalist led her November 30 item for NPR's "Shots" blog, "Health Law's Popularity Rises...Ever So Slightly," with her "blip" label. After briefly noting that "the federal Affordable Care Act still remains slightly more unpopular 44 percent) than popular (37 percent)," she explained that "the major reason for the uptick is the rebound in support among Democrats. Their favorability ratings jumped from 52 percent last month to 62 percent this month."
NPR's Tovia Smith sang the praises of Congressman Barney Frank on Monday's All Things Considered: "Frank has proven both piercing and pithy, zinging one-liners....bold and unabashed." Smith barely included any dissenting voices in her report, playing four sound bites from the staunch liberal and his supporters, versus only two from opponents.
Host Melissa Block noted how Rep. Frank is a "leading liberal voice and one of the first openly gay congressman" in her introduction for the correspondent's report and added that "because his district has just been redrawn, he'd likely face a grueling reelection campaign." Smith continued by stating that "some of the Democratic strongholds he's represented for decades have been replaced by more conservative towns."
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and NPR's Nina Totenberg had a humorous exchange on PBS's Inside Washington Friday.
After mocking Totenberg for the "surprise" of her giving Democrats on the Super Committee credit, Krauthammer scolded her for constantly interrupting him saying, "I'm in the middle of a sentence, and I am going to get to the end, and I will let you know with punctuation, alright?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NPR played up a pro-illegal immigration rally at an Alabama church with "strong ties to the civil rights movement" on Tuesday's Morning Edition. Correspondent Tanya Ott of affiliate WBHM trumpeted how "they could hardly pick a more historic place to hold the rally," and highlighted a an advocate for illegal immigrants who likened opponents to the devil.
Fill-in host Linda Wertheimer touted how "pressure is mounting against Alabama's immigration law, known as the toughest in the nation" in her introduction to the journalist's report, and used her "strong ties" phrase as she stated how 3,000 showed up for the rally at the church. Ott specified that the "historic place" which hosted the event is the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, "where, almost a half century ago, a bomb exploded, killing four young black girls."
Ben Smith at Politico reports that in her new book, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann goes out of her way to praise Garrison Keillor, the arrogant liberal host of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. This is the guy that wrote for Time magazine that "The Republicans are going to be the Party That Canceled the Clean Air Act and Took Hot Lunches from Children, the Orphanage Party of Large White Men Who Feel Uneasy Around Gals."
How would Bachmann process that one? She oozed in the book: “His politics are very different from mine, but I love his gentle, knowing humor. Keillor understands Minnesota, from Lutherans to lutefisk, and his ability to squeeze laughs out of serious-minded midwesterners makes him a legend.”
Charles Krauthammer justifiably lost his patience with his fellow panelists on PBS's Inside Washington Friday evening.
No matter how many times he explained that Republicans last week proposed a revenue increase that Democrats refused, PBS's Mark Shields and NPR's Nina Totenberg couldn't seem to grasp this simple concept leading Krauthammer to ask, "What planet are you guys living on...I’ve rarely encountered such thickness" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NPR's Nina Totenberg on Friday exhibited what Hillary Clinton would call a willing suspension of disbelief.
When the subject of failed solar company Solyndra came up on PBS's Inside Washington, Totenberg actually said with a straight face, "There is no evidence that there was any political anything about the awarding of this contract" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
National Public Radio proved a long time ago it disdains black conservatives. Remember when NPR’s Nina Totenberg launched the unproven sex-harassment charges against Clarence Thomas? NPR doesn’t even like black liberals who appear on Fox News: they canned Juan Williams. The sex-harassment charges against Herman Cain aren’t ruining him quickly as the media hoped, so on November 11, NPR viciously attacked Cain for being an enemy of blacks, and a “minstrel” to white conservatives.
Reporter Karen Grigsby Bates began with Harvard professor Randall Kennedy. “Black people know that if Herman Cain had his way, their lives would be diminished,” he announced. “And they intuit that Herman Cain's policies are against their interests.”
MSNBC host and radio talker Ed Schultz gave a "What I Read" interview to The Atlantic, but the reading list was less interesting than his complaining about how talk radio is owned by conservatives: "Citadel doesn't do liberal talk radio. Bonneville doesn't do liberal talk radio. The Salem Radio Network, same thing." Of course, he admitted, If Ed Schultz owned 600 radio stations, I can guarantee you Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or any other right-wing hack job would not be on my stations. But until liberals go out and buy signals, you're not going to get a lot of liberal talk radio."
Then Schultz admitted where liberal radio is located. It's at the left end of the dial. "I don't buy that there are more conservative listeners than liberal listeners. A lot of the liberal listeners are listening to NPR. In Washington or New York City, the NPR station has huge listenership. That's where most of the liberal audience is and that's who we, the commercial liberal format, have to peel away listeners from. This industry is ideologically-driven. That's the culture of it."
Harvard professor Randall Kennedy claimed “Black people know that if Herman Cain had his way, their lives would be diminished.” Former Time reporter Jack E. White added “Herman Cain tells them what they want to hear about blacks, and in turn, they embrace him and say, see, that proves we aren't racist. He's even willing to be a minstrel for them.”
NPR brought on Shinseki to hail "the president stepping out and leading in this area, trying to provide incentives for hiring young veterans. And this is the jobs bill. This is his speech in August at the American Legion. We won't balance this budget on the backs of veterans. I mean all very, very strong statements." This may not be surprising, but there's no record of NPR going out to interview the veterans affairs secretary on Veterans Day in the Bush years.
Bill Clinton appeared on Tuesday morning on NBC and MSNBC to promote his latest book, and neither asked the man – who paid an $850,000 settlement to Paula Jones and surrendered his law license for false testimony – to comment. The same pattern happened on National Public Radio. Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep gave Clinton more than seven minutes of air time to his thoughts on Obama and the economy, but no harassment inquiries.
This question was jaw-dropping in its ignorance. “Your administration was known politically for seeking to reposition the Democratic Party, not get stuck as being defined as tax-and-spend liberals,” Inskeep proclaimed. “President Obama also was seen as trying to take the party in a new [moderate] direction, but ended telling an interviewer last year that he had been tagged as another tax-and-spend liberal. How'd that happen to him?”
Gary Locke, Obama's Commerce Secretary turned ambassador to China, drew an unlikely "rock star" goo-fest on NPR's All Things Considered on Friday night. In China, the former governor of Washington state is now apparently an "internet sensation" with "runaway popularity," a "rock star" who's mobbed by crowds with outstretched hands, but is still "very down to earth," since "He carries his own backpack, travels in economy and buys coffee with discount vouchers."
NPR reporter Louisa Lim insisted to the audience at home that nominating an ethnic Chinese man to be ambassador to China was a very wise move on Obama's part, as was proven by Locke's third trip to his ancestral homeland in southern China:
Would NPR or other liberal outlets ever suggest liberals were leading the fight for tax cuts for the rich? But on Saturday night’s All Things Considered, substitute host Laura Sullivan announced “In the small tourist town of Holland, Michigan, an unlikely group of religious leaders and conservatives are leading the fight for gay rights.”
But the star of reporter Lindsey Smith’s piece was not a conservative, but Rev. Bill Freeman, whose own website boasts “He has marched for world peace, lobbied Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Law, lobbied the state legislature to pass anti-bullying legislation and been arrested for civil disobedience in his support of gay rights.” When a liberal pushes a liberal cause, why can't NPR be honest?
On Friday night's All Things Considered, the Week in Politics segment could have been titled "Another Horrible Week for Republicans." Helping out enthusiastically was New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is billed as the conservative half of the political analyst team with ultraliberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. But the two end up agreeing so much you can't tell which one is the liberal.
When anchor Robert Siegel asked if this week marked the "beginning of the end of the Cain phenomenon," Brooks sneered that Cain was a "TV show that lasted a little while," and Dionne naturally agreed. Then Brooks turned to Romney and insisted he drops the emotional temperature of the room to chilling lows -- and of course, Dionne agreed.
At the tail end of the second hour of the Diane Rehm Show on many NPR stations Friday, defense reporter James Kitfield of the National Journal broke out his outrage about the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was firebombed this week. Like Time's Bruce Crumley, Kitfield saved his outrage for the "irresponsible" satirists and all his sensitivity for the Muslims of France.
In the Huffington Post, French journalist Romina Ruiz-Goiriena complained that while "For many, the publication has been an iconic soapbox for the far French left since its creation in 1960," it failed to achieve what freedom should: "The issue was not thought-provoking; it simply contributed to burgeoning anti-Muslim sentiment. What it should have been doing was pushing the conversation forward to confront the seemingly dormant but rampant institutional bigotry. After all, is that not the point of having a free press tradition in the first place?"
PBS's Mark Shields on Friday took some childish swipes at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
During an Inside Washington discussion about who might be next to challenge Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, Shields said, "Don't count out the chubby fellow from Georgia, Newt, the rehabilitated Newt Gingrich, carrying along a bogus IQ and some other baggage" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Guest hosts of the NPR-distributed Diane Rehm Show announced on Thursday and Friday that "Diane is in Maine on a station visit." But that description to the public was incomplete. In fact, Rehm went to Portland, Maine as a keynote speaker on Friday to the fall conference of the local environmental group Maine Businesses for Sustainability. "Diane Rehm will discuss the ways in which sustainability and sustainable concepts have infiltrated current events, touching on her personal observations of sustainability trends in the media."
On Friday’s edition of the Diane Rehm show on many NPR stations, a conservative-leaning caller, identified as “Frank from St. Louis” lit into “you guys in the mainstream press” for ignoring and/or delaying sex scandals about liberal Democrats, but leaping on the Herman Cain allegations, no matter how fuzzy.
What “Frank” got in return from the three journalists on the “Friday News Roundup” panel was denial, denial, and denial. They said there was “no evidence” of a double standard. Obviously, someone needs to look at the MRC’s 63-to-7 numbers on Cain vs. three of Clinton’s sex scandals.
On Friday's Morning Edition, NPR's Joel Rose played up the apparently "ominous" finding that voting-age adults 30 and younger aren't as "enamored of Mr. Obama as they used to be." Rose obtained sound bites from the President's supporters, but didn't play any from opponents. He also expressed liberal hopes when he stated that "there's still time for [them] to rediscover the excitement they felt four years ago, but the Obama campaign has some serious work to do."
Host Steve Inskeep introduced the correspondent's report by noting that "young people powered the election of President Obama in 2008. The so-called Millennial generation...voted in record numbers... [and] gave time, money, and a sense of excitement to the campaign. Now, a Pew Research Center report shows that some Millennials are questioning their support for the President. They're anxious about the economy."
NPR's Philip Reeves slanted towards the Occupy Wall Street on Wednesday's All Things Considered as he played up the "huge outcry" over St. Paul Cathedral in London's dispute with the left-leaning movement, which has an encampment outside its doors. Reeves spotlighted a local official who "called St. Paul's a 'national laughing stock,'" and omitted sound bites from the opponents of the movement.
Host Guy Raz noted in his introduction to the correspondent's report how St. Paul's was a "national treasure" associated with Churchill's funeral and the wedding of Charles and Diana, and continued that it was now "the backdrop for another kind of drama: a protest camp modeled on the Occupy Wall Street movement. NPR's Philip Reeves says it's causing upheaval in the heart of British society."
On Friday, NPR's Julie Rovner bemoaned the "crummy month for sentiment" about ObamaCare in an online report about the latest poll from the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that over 50% oppose the liberal law. Rovner also labeled Romney's Massachusetts health care law his "landmark achievement."
The correspondent lead her NPR.org item, "Democrats Lose Enthusiasm For Health Law," by seemingly downplaying the poll results and using her "crummy" label: "Sure, it's just one poll of many, but October marks a crummy month for sentiment about the federal Affordable Care Act." She continued by noting that "more than half of those polled...had an unfavorable view of the measure overhauling health care. Only 34 percent said they viewed the law favorably, a post-passage low."
Another NPR freelancer has been fired for activism at an Occupy rally. On Gawker, Caitlin Curran laments she was canned from 20 hours a week producing for the public radio talk show The Takeway (co-produced by Public Radio International and WNYC Radio in New York, and supported in part by the taxpayers through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.)
Unlike Lisa Simeone, who served in a very official capacity as a public-relations flack for “Occupy DC,” Curran held up a sign in the Occupy Wall Street march in Times Square on October 15. The plan was for her husband to hold the sign, but she was also photographed with it and posted it to her personal Twitter account. It drew blog kudos – which was her undoing.
National Public Radio continues to define itself in every way as a taxpayer-funded nest of leftism. NPR couldn’t just supportively report on the Occupy Wall Street protests. A fire-breathing spokeswoman for the "Occupy DC" protests against capitalism was also an NPR host.
Lisa Simeone was an NPR anchor for their weekend version of the newscast "All Things Considered" for a year and a half, from late 2000 to early 2002. Now this radical was leading protests as she hosted a radio documentary series called "Soundprint" and an arts show, "The World of Opera."
On Monday's Morning Edition, NPR's Carrie Kahn followed her network's standard operating procedure by omitting anti-illegal immigration conservatives from a report highlighting Latino Republicans' concern over the apparently "rough" language from GOP presidential candidates. Kahn cited one activist who bemoaned that the "the harsh talk is making it difficult to recruit new Latino voters."
During his introduction for the correspondent's report, fill-in host Ari Shapiro acknowledged that "Mr. Obama has lost popularity with Latinos recently, mostly due to the economy," but then added that "Hispanic voters looking for alternatives are not too happy with the Republican slate either." Kahn continued by playing up how "if you've been listening to the GOP presidential candidates lately, the talk about immigration control is getting rough."
NPR's Michele Norris, an anchor on the evening newscast All Things Considered, will temporarily step down as anchor while her husband Broderick Johnson accepts a senior position with the Obama re-election campaign. She will keep reporting what NPR calls "signature pieces" for the show (but not on politics), and plans to return as co-anchor after the 2012 elections.
Norris recused herself without an announcement in 2004 when Johnson aided Kerry's congressional outreach, but not in 2008 when he was unpaid adviser to Obama’s campaign. In a message sent on Monday morning to NPR staff, Norris said:
There was a truly marvelous exchange between syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and NPR's Nina Totenberg on Friday's "Inside Washington."
When Krauthammer pressed her on why President Obama didn't embrace the Bowles-Simpson plan to reduce the budget deficit, Totenberg replied, "Don’t make me the spokesman for the White House," leading him to deliciously ask, "What would be new about that?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Incoming NPR president Gary Knell smugly dismissed NPR critics in an interview with James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times. "If you listen over a period of time you hear voices from all ends of the political spectrum on NPR," Knell argued. "I think a lot of the critics, by what they say, don't even listen to the service." (Dear Mr. Smug: read the NPR section of NewsBusters, with links to your transcripts.)
That's not the only smug echo among the NPR rookies. Another line is that conservatives (or people who agree there's a liberal tilt) aren't the "real listeners," the "core audience" of NPR -- even if they're "core" funders through taxes. That's what new NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos said in an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation on October 11: