Back to school is an exciting time of year – new classmates, new subjects, new books, new gender and a new court-invented right to use the boys or girls room, depending on how you currently “identify.”
Welcome to the brave new world of “the next civil-rights struggle.” From a California law decreeing that any student has the right to use any gender-specific restroom and play on any gender-specific sports team he or she (or she or he) wants, biology be d**ned, to LGBT activists counseling network honchos on more sensitive TV portrayals, transgender is all the rage among liberals and media types.
The recently announced upcoming departure of NPR CEO Gary Knell serves as a useful time to look at the history of NPR leadership. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, NPR insists that it doesn’t play favorites in its news coverage of political parties. One indication of NPR’s actual commitment to being nonpartisan in its news coverage is its choice of President/CEO. Just from what is publicly known about NPR’s nine leaders over the past 42 years, most were known to be devoted Democrats before being hired. None were known to be Republicans (even liberal Republicans).
NPR’s first two leaders had no public history of partisan activity. The NPR board can’t take much credit for that, though. The first leader, Don Quayle, was picked before NPR was even broadcasting. The second leader, Lee Frischknecht, a life-long friend of Quayle’s and already second in command at NPR, was hand-picked by Quayle to take over at NPR, so that he could move on to another job. Those were unique cases.
NPR’s All Things Considered on Saturday night offered unsurprisingly gushy coverage of Saturday’s Sharpton-replaces-MLK 50th anniversary march. There was no room in their stories for a black conservative or anyone who might be critical of the Black Left.
What might be surprising is NPR then airing a story getting out a hanky for sex offenders and warning about how a so-called “vigilante” group called “Parents for Megan’s Law” has way too much power on Long Island in monitoring sex offenders. They were even compared to George Zimmerman, the Left's favorite recent villain.
But on Monday, 20 months later, Knell announced his decision to join the National Geographic Society as its president and CEO, even though that meant leaving NPR, which he said "is and will always bea beacon of journalistic integrity, commitment, and courage,” a claim NewsBusters has repeatedly demonstrated as false.
On Monday's Morning Edition on NPR, Cokie Roberts did little to hide her feelings about the Republican National Committee's recent decision to exclude NBC and CNN from hosting future debates between would-be GOP presidential candidates. Roberts asserted that "some might think it's a little bit childish."
Roberts also brushed off the impact of the RNC's move, stating that it's "not likely to play much one way or the other" with voters.
On Monday's Morning Edition on NPR, Minnesota Public Radio correspondent Elizabeth Stawicki featured Karen Pollitz of the Kaiser Family Foundation during a report about ObamaCare, but failed to mention the left-leaning political affiliation of the organization. Stawicki merely labeled the foundation "non-partisan".
The public radio journalist also failed to mention that Pollitz is an alumna of both the Obama and Clinton administrations, and previously worked for two Democratic politicians.
NPR media reporter David Folkenflik filed a fond and light remembrance of liberal Baltimore Sun reporter Jack Germond on Wednesday night’s All Things Considered: “He lived life large and didn't suffer phonies. But here's the thing about Germond, and you don't find much among reporters today, he liked politicians.” He was "a lover of horse races, and horses." Nobody remembered Germond comparing Jerry Falwell to Nicaraguan communist dictator Daniel Ortega. (Correction: The original article cited Pat Robertson instead of Falwell.)
Folkenflik didn’t exactly offer the same treatment to Germond’s seatmate on “The McLaughlin Group,” Robert Novak. On August 18, 2009, after some fond remembrances from colleagues, Folkenflik brought in leftist David Corn to announce Novak’s reputation was damaged by the Valerie Plame leak case:
One of the reasons liberal talk radio has never been a big national success is the liberal elephant in the room: NPR. But when you're a leftist host like Thom Hartmann, NPR looks like a den of corporatist pigs about two political inches away from his villains, like the Koch brothers.
On Tuesday's show, he announced "I'm astounded that several times a week I hear on NPR somebody from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, treated as if they were some kind of an expert on something. These are front groups for the right-wing corporatists and the billionaires." You can't be an "expert" and a capitalist, apparently.
Media liberals have been up in arms since the Supreme Court decision that Congress should revisit the Voting Rights Act. They’re also upset about North Carolina, which on Monday, August 12, passed sweeping new voter laws including the use of state issued ID cards in all elections starting in 2016.
On the August 13 All Things Considered on NPR, reporter Dave DeWitt of North Carolina Public Radio mostly channeled the view of unlabeled “voting rights advocates” like the NAACP, who presented a sympathetic 92-year-old woman who was allegedly being denied the right to vote by Gov. Pat McCrory: [Story continues after page break.]
President Obama is now on his fourth annual “man of the people” summer vacation to Martha’s Vineyard (for some reason, Obama skipped that vacation three months prior to Election Day 2012). While there, he hangs around fellow rich and powerful liberals. Last night (August 12), one of those liberals included NPR anchor and special correspondent Michele Norris, who hosted Obama for a cocktail party at her vacation home on the Vineyard.
In 2011, Norris appropriately notified her NPR supervisors that husband Broderick Johnson was offered a full-time position in the Obama reelection campaign. She then recused herself from any coverage of the 2012 campaign and became a special correspondent and fill-in host. Now apparently nothing is off-limits, including hosting at her home the president she inevitably has to cover (or at least discuss) as a journalist. The official pool report from the White House press corps didn't list any media conflict:
If President Obama were following his 2012 media strategy, his latest appearance with Jay Leno on the Tonight show would have been his last "press conference." But since he was going on vacation, he decided to lower himself to a few questions from the White House press corps.
He did not call on NPR's Ari Shapiro on Friday -- but on Thursday's Morning Edition, Shapiro offered a typically one-sided story almost celebrating how in today's media, "the White House can avoid the [media] filter altogether." He can show up on Leno, or on the real-estate website Zillow, anywhere no one's asking about a "phony scandal" or two:
From October 25 – October 27, 2011, NPR’s investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan and NPR West producer Amy Walters made sensational charges against the state of South Dakota on NPR’s two largest news shows. They claimed that the state forcibly removed American Indian children from their families and placed them in white families for the purpose of receiving additional revenue from the U.S. government.
The series soon came under withering scrutiny by John Hinderaker at Power Line (see links below to his 6-part 2011 examination). Unbeknownst to Hinderaker and about everyone else, NPR’s independent ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos began his own inquiry into the series about the same time. He spent 22 months examining the reporting of the series and actually went back and re-reported what Sullivan and Walters had reported. The result is a stinging 80-page rebuke of Sullivan, Walters and their editors August 9, in which he characterized the series as “an injustice.” Here is an extended excerpt of Schumacher-Matos’ report summary (emphasis mine):
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics released its July monthly jobs report August 2. While the unemployment rate fell, economists did not view the report as positive. Even the liberal (called that by NPR itself) Economic Policy Institute, panned the results the same day.
That widespread negative assessment of the report didn’t stop NPR’s senior national correspondent and frequent fill-in host Linda Wertheimer from yet again casting news in a favorable light for Democrats. Here is the 42-year veteran of NPR’s upbeat summary of the jobs report from the previous day (emphasis mine):
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had quite a testy exchange with CNBC’s John Harwood Tuesday.
Appearing on NPR’s On Point, Paul eventually told the substitute host, “Don't you have something better to read than a bunch of crap from people who don't like me? I mean, that won’t make for much of an interview if I have to sit through, you know, reading after recitation of people calling me a racist” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Taxpayer-subsidized NPR has a headline problem that won’t go away. As biased as much of its reporting is, NPR’s headline writers often appear to think that there is not enough bias. Sometimes they even write headlines that aren’t supported anywhere in the corresponding report. Even though there has been a history of headline problems at NPR recently, it appears that the headlines go out without being first checked by someone else.
On July 30, NPR congressional reporter Tamara Keith did a fair piece on Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups (see Newsbusters post on it). That piece initially appeared only online with the headline, “Report: IRS Scrutiny Worse For Conservatives." In what looks to be an updated on-air version of the same story the next day , an NPR headline writer changed the initially accurate headline to one unsupported by the piece: “House Republicans Work To Keep IRS Scandal In The Spotlight.”
Inside the liberal echo chamber that is National Public Radio, the stale show known as “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” addressed Congress on Wednesday with New York Times congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman. Host Terry Gross announced “this Congress has been one of the least productive in history. They have accomplished so little that the president is looking into how he can bypass Congress and use executive actions to make changes in areas like job creation, immigration and the economy.”
Gross put all the blame for Congress on the “radical” Obama-resisting conservatives: “What do you think have been the most dramatic examples of partisanship or obstructionism or radicalism during this 113th Congress so far?” Weisman said tax hikes made Congress "productive" at first, but conservatives ruined it:
On July 27, 2013, former Democratic congresswoman Lindy Boggs died at the age of 97. She achieved a number of firsts in her career, including being the first woman to serve in Congress from Louisiana and the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican for Bill Clinton.
She was also known for strongly championing a number of causes. One of those causes was opposition to abortion. NPR aired four pieces after Boggs’ death that remembered her, mentioning just about every major achievement and cause of Boggs—except her commitment to fighting abortion and the resulting significant impact that stand had on her career.
As I argued yesterday, the unanimous state court ruling in New York blocking Mayor Mike Bloomberg's ban on fountain soda cups larger than 16 ounces in capacity would be portrayed in the liberal media as a setback to a well-meaning public health effort and a boon to big business. True to form, taxpayer-subsidized NPR is peddling this spin to readers of its website while completely ignoring how the ruling is a win for consumer choice or how continuing to litigate this in courts may be a waste of taxpayer money.
NPR loves to label individuals and groups—but not all the time. They usually want listeners to know who Republicans are, as they did incessantly last year with GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin. A piece about the North Carolina General Assembly righting an old wrong on the July 25 All Things Considered evening news show took a different approach, with reporter Julie Rose entirely omitting party designations.
North Carolina, like many other states, had an involuntary eugenics-based sterilization program for most of the 1900s. The program finally stopped in 1974. In the four intervening decades, the state did nothing to compensate victims. Last week, that changed with the passage of a bill establishing a fund for victims.
NPR in general and their legal affairs/Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg in particular want the public to believe that they view sexual harassment charges against public figures as a very important issue that demands immediate and full coverage. The reality: they behave that way only if the accused has a Republican party identification.
The most recent evidence of that: the reporting on the charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault by San Diego’s current Democratic mayor and former 20-year U.S. Congressman Bob Filner. In the two weeks following the initial disclosure of the accusations July 11, which was followed by named accusers coming forward July 22, 23 and 24, NPR has aired a grand total of two pieces on the matter. The first occurred a full five days after the accusations first came out, on July 16 (even The New York Times reported it July 12). And both pieces were done by a public radio journalist in San Diego who doesn’t even work for NPR.
The next time a public-radio station goes into pledge-drive mode and begs listeners to chip in $100 for those snazzy premiums like the Nina Totin'-Bag, it would be wonderful if, in the spirit of balance and fairness, they would read off some salary numbers for NPR stars. Do people on modest incomes really want to chip in $25 to make sure an anchor can take home $375,000?
Instead, pledge-drive announcers often plead that stations need donations to pay for program fees, not anchor salaries. Blogger and news-app developer Andy Boyle pored over a few IRS 990 forms and revealed some of the highest-paid public radio poobahs:
Even after tax-subsidized NPR’s very slanted coverage of the racial aspect of the George Zimmerman trial, NPR delivered a unanimous verdict on President Obama’s July 19 Trayvon Martin race speech: it was outstanding and political considerations had nothing to do with its timing. On all of NPR’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows post-speech, all NPR hosts, NPR reporters, NPR commentators, interviewees and those featured in audio clips saw Obama’s speech the same positive way.
Ordinarily skeptical of political motivations by politicians, NPR’s journalists lapped up the Obama administration’s claim that Obama’s July 19 race speech just happened to be delivered spontaneously when it was. The fact that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, terrible news for Obama, occurred less than 24 hours earlier, along with the fact that the Zimmerman verdict was a full six days earlier, didn’t raise anyone’s suspicions at NPR. NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson’s explanation for the timing: “they wanted to make sure that the protests were not violent.”
What do you get when an already race-focused news organization staffed and run almost entirely by liberal journalists decides that it needs a full race desk alongside its foreign and crime desks? A full 259 separate on-air pieces (not including web-only ones) discussing Trayvon Martin over a 16-month period — 190 of them (80 percent) mention the word "black.". You also get coverage that furthers the narrative of whites targeting blacks. The theme that Trayvon Martin was unarmed was repeated in 89 stories (35% of the Trayvon stories).
Despite NPR always granting complete deference to a mixed-race President Obama being regarded as black, very few NPR journalists used the words "Hispanic" or "Latino" for Zimmerman. While the words were used in 15% of the the 190 articles that mention Zimmerman, only five of them (3%) called him simply "Hispanic" or "Latino."
NPR announced to its listeners on Thursday night's All Things Considered that their audience is chock full of "tolerant" lefties. Dipping into letters from the audience, anchor Melissa Block said there were "a lot of strong reactions" to Tuesday's ludicrous one-sided story by Margot Adler on young people demanding to be whimsical about gender pronouns and redefining the "gender binary." Some letters were negative, "but most of your comments were positive," Block insisted.
"Anndal Nurayan of Chapel Hill, North Carolina writes this: 'I wanted to thank you and her for this thoughtful coverage. There is so much nastiness about trans people in public discourse. As Adler rightly said, that they are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.'”
In a classic "diversity" turn at National Public Radio, Thursday’s Morning Edition promoted the comedic career of Indian-American Hari Kondabolu, who writes for the FX comedy show “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell.” He also has a forthcoming album of stand-up comedy. Anchor David Greene declared "The brainy, young comedian cuts through any polite talk about race or gender. And his incisive anecdotes are making a whole lot of people laugh."
NPR reporter Elizabeth Blair unsurprisingly plucked out a routine from a recent show at the indie-music venue the Black Cat in Washington, DC, where Kondabolu mocked the Bible as a ridiculous guide for someone’s beliefs on homosexuality. He compared the snake in the Garden of Eden to a “Jungle Book” scenario:
On Wednesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Elizabeth Shogren blasted the Republican congressional majority led by Newt Gingrich during the 1990s. Shogren spotlighted a MIT professor's assertion that former President Bill Clinton "stood up for the EPA when it faced the most frightening attack it had ever had. Congressional Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, wanted to gut regulations...some even wanted to do away with the EPA."
The correspondent made this over-the-top statement as she covered the EPA renaming its headquarters after the two-term president. Shogren also hit the Democrat from the left by claiming that "Clinton's record on the environment was mixed".
NPR afternoon co-host Melissa Block inexplicably seems to have changed her view of the value of U.S. Senate candidates living in a state for a while before running. On the July 17 All Things Considered, Block wondered why Liz Cheney would run for a Senate seat in the West. She "grew up in the East. She only moved back to Wyoming last year. Why is she running for Senate now and launching a primary fight against the incumbent?“
While Cheney had lived off-and-on in Wyoming before considering a Senate run, in 2000 then-First Lady Hillary Clinton had never lived in New York. Yet Block blithely announced on the February 16, 1999 All Things Considered: “On the books, there's nothing to bar Mrs. Clinton from a New York Senate run. All she needs to do is set up residence here by Election Day, and that's worked before....Robert Kennedy came from out of town to win the New York Senate seat in 1964.”
You could tell it was going to be a wild night of transgender advocacy on NPR when Tuesday's All Things Considered anchor Melissa Block sent this insane-sounding tweet: “Coming up on @npratc: beyond he and she? High school students say ‘I want you to call me 'Tractor' and use pronouns like Zee, Zim, Zer.’” But wait, there is one certainty in this milieu: NPR would be channeling the Left, and there would be no time to consider conservative dissent from the evolving political correctness.
NPR reporter/pagan witch Margot Adler was exploring the brave new world of gender fluidity with young cultural innovators who reject the "gender binary" as oppressive. It came to this conclusion:
On Weekend Edition Sunday, NPR's Rachel Martin helped Daily Beast editor Reza Aslan promote his new biography of Jesus, who posited that there is a "chasm between the historical Jesus and the Jesus...taught about in church." As proof of this supposed gap, Aslan claimed that "there is actually no statement of messianic identity from Jesus" in the Gospel of Mark.
Aslan has it wrong. Jesus actually affirmed that he was the Christ (the Greek word for Messiah) in Mark 14: 61-62: "Again the high priest asked him...Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed God? And Jesus said to him: I am. And you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming with the clouds of heaven." Even NPR pointed out Aslan's false statement in a correction on Monday, but Martin, a former religion correspondent for the public radio network, didn't catch his error during the segment.
One might think that with the constant barrage of liberally-slanted news and commentary on NPR news shows, NPR game shows would give the liberal bias a rest. That is certainly not true for the top NPR game show “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me,” a show based on current events. That humor sometimes goes beyond the pale, as it did Saturday.
During the show’s “Lightning Fill in the Blank” segment Saturday, NPR game show host Peter Sagal asked a question about KFC considering a lawsuit against a Thailand restaurant that used an altered version of the Colonel Sanders logo -- one that had an image of Adolf Hitler superimposed over Sanders. After advice columnist Amy Dickinson provided an incorrect answer to Sagal, he said that the restaurant would just use Chick-fil-A’s logo the next time.