National Public Radio ombudsman Alicia Shepard isn’t afraid to raise questions of liberal bias occasionally. Her latest column is titled "Too Much Kennedy." She reports NPR offered 53 stories on Ted Kennedy’s death in the first five days (August 26-30), "But on that first day, in the 23 on-air stories, only one mentioned the name Mary Jo Kopechne and 5 mentioned Chappaquiddick." When they did, it was passed over gently as an obstacle to the White House:
NPR's Brian Naylor did tell the Chappaquiddick story during a 9-minute obit for Morning Edition. But the focus was on how Chappaquiddick and the death of Kopechne derailed Kennedy's presidential ambitions.
"An effort to draft the youngest Kennedy for the White House was short lived at the Democratic convention of 1968, and his presidential aspirations were dealt a blow a year later when in July of 1969, his car went off a small bridge on the Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick," said Naylor.
Mark Hemingway at the Corner followed up on an item at Jules Crittenden's blog late last night.
What perked Hemingway's interest was Mr. Crittenden's relay of the following yesterday concerning an exchange during NPR's Diane Rehm Show:
Newsweek’s Ed Klein (told interviewer) Katty Kay about Kennedy’s love of humor. How the late senator loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones. Not that Kennedy lacked remorse, Klein quickly added, seeming to intuit that my jaw and perhaps those of other listeners had just hit the floorboards. I gather it was a self-deprecating maneuver on Kennedy’s part, exercised with the famous Kennedy charm, though it sounds like one of those “I guess you had to have been there” things.
Hemingway went and listened. There is a 1:40 YouTube posted of what he heard.
Here is the transcript of that clip, without wrap-up niceties:
Remember the outrage earlier this year for some of the bonuses paid out to executives of financial institutions that were TARP recipient? Or how about the press coverage that spurred on populist outrage when it was reported former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent $35,000 on a commode to redecorate his office?
NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard has focused again on what NPR reporters say on Fox News. Reporter Mara Liasson infuriated the liberal listeners of the taxpayer-funded network when she proclaimed on Tuesday's Special Report that "Cash for Clunkers is like a mini-Katrina here," Liasson said. "It's not good to start a government program and not be able to execute it."
Liasson quickly acknowledged she "crossed a line" in comparing Bush's hurricane response to Obama's eco-friendly initiatives:
"I said something really stupid, which I regret," Liasson told me. "I should have merely said anytime time the government does something less than competent, it makes it harder to get people to trust them with other programs. People died in Katrina because of government incompetence. I should not have used that as an analogy. I was thinking of an example of government incompetence and I picked one that was too big and egregious. I was over the top in my choice of a metaphor. It was a mistake."
In the "First Person Singular" interview in The Washington Post Magazine on Sunday, ABC and NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts expressed her female chauvinism loud and clear: "Men are just lesser beings." Strangely, her extreme take on the sexes came right after she proclaimed she was in the common-sense middle of political opinion:
I think that often where I am is just in the middle. The middle is often the common-sensical place to be. The notion that one side is right and one side is wrong is generally, as one finds in life, not the case. Women tend to be a lot more common-sensical than men are. In fact, when the Mark Sanford thing broke, I went tearing into my husband's office and said, "Okay, that's it. Women just are better. Men are just lesser beings." He couldn't argue at that point.
Last Wednesday, NPR's Morning Edition ran a strange story picking up on how George Washington University professor Mark Lynch blogged for Foreign Policy magazine on how rapper "beefs" are a metaphor for foreign policy. Jay-Z, on top of the rapper heap, is the U.S., whereby a challenging rapper like The Game could be Iran. It prompted this funny letter, read on the air the next day:
LINDA WERTHEIMER: One NPR listener wrote on our Web site: Jay-Z and The Game are like foreign policy? I can't wait to see how Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls are like cancer research, or how the reunion of New Kids on the Block parallels how Russia is again consolidating power. Can I search your archives for a story about how Bobby Sherman mirrored the Tet Offensive?
Here's a part of Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep's interview with Professor Lynch:
NPR on Wednesday released results of a new poll finding declining support for President Obama and his healthcare initiative while also showing a tightening in which Party folks plan to vote for in the 2010 elections.
Also of note was the glaring difference between those believing the country is going in the wrong track versus the right track with those feeling the former exceeding the latter by a greater margin than has been seen in over a year, and the highest since the financial collapse last September.
Though none of this is surprising given other polling data of late, it is interesting to see this coming from NPR.
The results were published in an online article as well as discussed on Wednesday's Morning Edition (audio embedded below the fold, h/t Soren Dayton):
Boston talk-show host Michael Graham (we’re not related) was shocked and appalled by Jack Beatty, a liberal writer at the Atlantic Monthly and former book reviewer at Newsweek. Beatty’s a weekly news analyst on the WBUR show On Point, distributed nationally by National Public Radio to more than 150 stations. Looking back at the week in review on Friday, host Tom Ashbrook brought up the case of Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and videotaped pleading for his release. While NPR correspondent Liz Halloran said the clip was heart-rending, Beatty went Cheney-bashing:
We have to hope that he is treated better than we have treated people we have taken prisoner in Afghanistan. We have to hope that he’s not essentially given indefinite detention, or as Lindsey Graham said this week about people in Guantanamo, ‘locked away forever.’ We have to hope that despite the worst efforts of John Yoo and Dick Cheney and others, he is not tortured, because we tortured.
Usually, when a reporter files a fact-check on a presidential press conference, there are some definitive mistakes listed. Clay Waters at TimesWatch noted that even The New York Times found that Obama's deficit-cutting claims would only be true if he left every troop in Iraq for another ten years. But after Wednesday night's press conference was aired live on National Public Radio, NPR health reporter Julie Rovner signaled that Obama may have goofed when he said that nationalizing health care wouldn't add to the deficit, but "there's a distinction about whether or not you think that adds to the deficit or not. I guess it's people's call to make on their own." Here's how it unfolded:
MADELEINE BRAND, anchor: I think there's a couple of places where the president may have sort of misstated a few things. There was one place, where he said that he wasn't going to let it add to the deficit. Here's what he said.
BARACK OBAMA: I've also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade, and I mean it.
While the big liberal media usually find it hard to skip any news related to the Kennedy family, ABC, CBS and NBC breathed not a word about Saturday’s 40th anniversary of Chappaquiddick. On the night of July 18, 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy left a party with 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne and later drove off a bridge. Kennedy left the scene with Kopechne still in the submerged vehicle; he did not call the police until the following morning.
The Saturday and Sunday New York Times and Washington Post also had nothing about Chappaquiddick. Several newspapers did carry a brief, if inadvertent, mention, since on Saturday the Associated Press made it the day’s “Highlight in History” in their re-cap of big news events that happened on a July 18, beating out the start of the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64 and the death of naval hero John Paul Jones in 1792.
The Washington Post’s Saturday story on the approaching Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings tried to suggest that conservative allegations that the New York appeals judge is a liberal activist who rules with her feelings have been crushed.
The trio of reporters Robert Barnes, Michael Shear, and Perry Bacon cited "one recent study" that readers might suppose is nonpartisan – but the cited study came from a very liberal, pro-Sotomayor source, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University -- a think tank named after liberals' favorite activist justice. Here’s where that study emerged:
The White House and Sotomayor's supporters in the Senate and elsewhere say charges that she has let her feelings influence her rulings has not registered with the public in an environment roiled by the still-faltering economy and a showdown on health-care reform.
The allegation has also been refuted by a series of studies that show Sotomayor's decisions in 17 years as a district judge and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit fit comfortably in the mainstream, if on the liberal edge of it. One recent study said that on matters of constitutional interpretation, she has sided with the majority 98 percent of the time.
Terry Gross, the female Philadelphia-based host of the National Public Radio show Fresh Air, notoriously tangled with Bill O’Reilly in 2003 by asking O'Reilly to respond to Al Franken's attacks on him (two weeks after a giggly interview with Franken himself). A July 1 interview with Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz on the (apparently hopeless) state of the Republican Party caused her to pick up the left-wing bloggers’ attack on Rush Limbaugh as someone who says "extreme wild things" and damages the GOP:
GROSS: You know, I always wonder what Republicans -- and I know you can't really generalize here because every Republican is different -- but what Republicans think of right wing talk radio and TV. Take Rush Limbaugh, for instance. He says some pretty extreme wild things. He's not running for office. He's not taking responsibility for running the country. He's, I mean, he's a talk show host and what he needs is an audience and ratings and saying extreme things is very good for getting audience and ratings.
On Monday's Tell Me More, NPR talk show host Michel Martin offered a few supportive thoughts about Sarah Palin: she "was somebody you wanted to see in the game" as a working mother, and "She seemed practical, honest, unfazed and down-to-earth, exactly the qualities people hope newcomers in general and hopefully women will bring to public life." Apparently, though, these warm feelings evaporated within days. When she "trashed" Barack Obama at the Republican convention, she became "just another Mean Girl" on a rampage:
But then for some reason, maybe it was the glare of the national spotlight, maybe she was that way all along, Palin seemed to morph pretty quickly out of Superwoman into just another Mean Girl — ridiculing people who don't make the same choices she does, and then crying about it when the rest of the world bit her back.
National Public Radio’s website has a section called "Books We Like," and NPR is unafraid to declare it likes books that please the hard left. NPR book critic Simon Maxwell Apter lauded a book on white supremacists called Blood and Politics by the author Leonard Zeskind, a man who recently declared on Pacifica Radio that Sean Hannity and Pat Buchanan offer "a rational sense of justification" to hardened racists. Apter revealed that he liked not only the book, but the election of Barack Obama:
The recent murder of a security guard at D.C.'s Holocaust museum reminds us that racial and religious fanaticism live on in the U.S. But thankfully, while a handful of bigots are still grumbling on about the South's loss of the Civil War, the tyranny of "ZOG" (the "Zionist Occupied Government" currently reigning in Washington) and the "eight Jewish families" who "own" the Federal Reserve, some 70 million others have, in a testament to the overwhelming tolerance of contemporary American society, gone ahead and elected Barack Obama president.
On June 5, I reported that National Public Radio was piling on the story of murdered abortionist George Tiller, but had yet to report the shooting of Army private William Long, a gap of at least seven stories to zero. In her Ombudsman column on June 9, NPR’s Alicia Shepard asked the NPR staff why Tiller was more newsworthy than Private Long. They said because Tiller was a long-time figure of controversy. Liberals seem much quicker to conclude a soldier is a cold-blooded killer and more predisposed to think an abortionist is just a humanitarian doctor:
NPR Managing Editor David Sweeney defended last week's coverage decisions.
"The fact we gave more coverage to the killing of Tiller doesn't diminish the value of Long's life," said Sweeney. "But Tiller was a national figure given his practice and the attention he drew from abortion opponents. His killing has wider implications for the emotive debate on abortion on this country and we have covered those angles in reporting his death."
In one example, Morning Edition on June 5 carried a story exploring whether a 1994 law is sufficient to protect abortion providers.
Just like audio offered on the National Public Radio website, NPR transcripts in Nexis do not include top-of-the-hour newscasts. But a quick Nexis search finds there is no mention of the Monday shooting of Private William Long at a Little Rock recruiting station by a Muslim convert. I searched for "William Long," "army private," and "Little Rock."
Meanwhile, Nexis lists NPR has aired seven full stories or interview segments on the Sunday shooting of late-term abortionist George Tiller.
This is the only listing for Little Rock in the last week: a Tuesday story on master accordionist Steve Jordan:
The backroom studio is crammed with all the equipment they need to mix and produce albums on their own. The first CD will be titled "Carta Espiritual," "Letter to God;" quite different from earlier compositions like "Piedrecita," "The Little Rock," a paean to cocaine, but you won't hear a sample of it here. I tried. Jordan is famously paranoid about people ripping off his music.
In the very heart of the pro-life community, there is nothing they wanted less than another shooting of an abortionist. An unhinged vigilante's shooting of notorious Kansas late-term abortion "provider" George Tiller prompted an avalanche of press releases from pro-life groups denouncing the killing.
Why bother? Let's face it. The national media had zero interest in spotlighting a pro-life spokesman expressing horror, because let's face it, they don't believe it. Instead, as with ABC, they found anonymous citizens on the website Twitter saying "Oh, happy, day. Tiller the baby killer is dead." Another wrote, "God bless the gunman."
It was time for a barrage of liberal mudslinging. Keith Olbermann started his MSNBC program with these words: "A religious jihad by fundamentalist crusaders who believe that murder is justified, their acts of violence having the intended effect of changing behavior. Our fifth story on the Countdown: Not the Taliban, not Hamas, not al Qaeda."
National Public Radio’s reporting on the George Tiller murder was perfect on Monday – in shutting out pro-life voices wanting to express regret. Reports on Morning Edition and on All Things Considered from Kansas City-based reporter Frank Morris lined up Tiller’s friends, lawyers, and customers to praise him.
At almost the same time NPR's Peter Sagal and White House advisor David Axelrod were disgracefully mocking Carrie Prejean in front of a cheering crowd at George Washington University, NPR's Scott Simon was pointing out to his listeners how Barack Obama shares Miss California's views on same-sex marriage.
Talk about your inconvenient truths.
Potentially even more shocking, Simon exposed how absurd it is that folks have attacked Prejean while giving Obama a pass: "If you point out, as I have to a couple of e-mailers, that the president's opinion on gay marriage is more or less identical, the same people dismiss it as a painful insincerity he is forced to adopt because of people like Miss California."
The audio of this marvelous segment is available here with transcript below the fold (h/t JohnK):
In addition to a sympathy tour on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Elizabeth Edwards was interviewed by National Public Radio on Thursday. But All Things Considered co-anchor Michele Norris deserves credit for channeling some of the resentment of voters – both Edwards voters and others – who feel defrauded not just by John, but by Elizabeth, who consented to completely fraudulent media stories celebrating her wedded bliss. Deep into the interview, Norris asked the toughie:
NORRIS: Now, I don't have to tell you this, but you know that some people feel misled by your husband but also by you. You knew about the affair, but you chose to actively campaign for your husband and to present him as a man of character and to present yourselves as the people involved in an ideal marriage. And people are angry because they feel like you've perpetrated a fraud. People are angry because they feel that his campaign had an impact on the election. Is the anger directed at you justified?
The tea-party coverage even trickled on National Public Radio on Wednesday night, on their newscast All Things Considered. It was a fairly respectful hearing of dissent, even though anchor Melissa Block suggested the protesters were bearing only "pet peeves," and reporter Robert Smith insisted the festivities weren't exactly "grass roots" activity, since they were grown with "partisan fertilizer."
They were put together by "conservative" groups and Fox News. Would NPR or the TV networks ever describe the anti-war or pro-amnesty protests they lavishly cover as "liberal" events, or note they're less than "grass roots" because they got heavy play on ABC, CBS, and NBC? But Smith went there on the tea parties:
The NPR-distributed talk show On Point from WBUR in Boston – which airs nationwide on 169 stations – took up “Angry America” as a topic on Monday, illustrated on the show’s website with pictures of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michael Savage. Host Tom Ashbook summarized that radio talk could lead to violence: “Lately, the language on air in the age of President Obama, economic bust, and big government bailouts, has been particularly hot – and hot when sales of guns and ammunition are surging.”
For a network that calmly bowed to the "advantages" of totalitarianism in Cuba's natural-disaster preparations, it was a bit shocking to hear National Public Radio anchor Melissa Block pressing a leftist congressman on Tuesday's All Things Considered about Cuban repression.
Employing what should be the standard practice of presenting the opponent's position, in this case on normalizing relations with Cuba and the Castro brothers. She found that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, touring Cuba with the Congressional Black Caucus, may be a "Democrat" but he celebrates a "diversity" of government styles, including lock-step communism:
BLOCK: Well, congressman, you well know that supporters of current Cuba policy -- supporters of the embargo -- say that if you lift sanctions you are going to just aid and justify a repressive regime. You're going to kill any hope of democracy. Now that regime will just use more resources to become more oppressive than it already is.
CLEAVER: Well, the world operates at its best when there is diversity. Every nation does not need to be like the United States. And frankly we already have diplomatic ties to repressive nations. And frankly if there is repression in Cuba, we didn't see it. We mingled with Cuban people. I preached at an Episcopal Church, Sunday, where we were told that there was no freedom of religion, which is not true.
There’s a huge hole in all of the public discussion about the reimposition of a "Fairness Doctrine" or a return to "localism" on the talk-radio format: What about National Public Radio? Liberals would like to "crush Rush" and his conservative compatriots by demanding each station balance its lineup ideologically. But since when has NPR ever felt any pressure to be balanced, even when a majority of taxpayers being forced to subsidize it are center-right?
Why no Fairness Doctrine attention to NPR? It is because those preaching "fairness" on the radio are hypocrites.
Conservatives argue that the media’s liberal bias drives people to talk radio for an opposing viewpoint. Limbaugh jokes: "I am the balance." But new numbers from NPR suggest its ratings may be nearly as imposing as Limbaugh’s: The cumulative audience for its daily news programs – "Morning Edition" and its evening counterpart, "All Things Considered" – has risen to 20.9 million per week.
Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi reveals a story that public broadcasters don't like to talk about: their ratings. They don't want to sound like they care (they certainly do), like they're obsessed like a for-profit company, or that they're taking market share away from commercial radio. But now, in tough times, NPR's rating success is leaking out:
The audience for NPR's daily news programs, including "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," reached a record last year, driven by widespread interest in the presidential election, and the general decline of radio news elsewhere. Washington-based NPR will release new figures to its stations today showing that the cumulative audience for its daily news programs hit 20.9 million a week, a 9 percent increase over the previous year.
The weekly audience for all the programming fed by Washington-based NPR -- including talk shows and music -- also reached a record last year, with 23.6 million people tuning in each week, an 8.7 percent increase over 2007.
The Post routinely leaves the public radio stations out when it surveys the D.C. radio landscape. But there are two public stations in the top ten:
Since “I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American,” NPR's Nina Totenberg decided to watch President Obama on the Tonight Show “and he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance.”
The eager-to-be-impressed Totenberg made her comment on Inside Washington, a weekly show produced and aired over the weekend by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate and its all-news cable channel, News Channel 8:
When I heard he was going to do this I thought, should a President really do that? Then I actually stayed up and watched it and he calmed me down. I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American I think. And he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance.
Rock stars are rarely controversial for acting like rock stars. A decadent lifestyle of sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse are the expected menu. In our upside-down popular culture, rock stars create controversy only when they advocate an alternative lifestyle – when they wear purity rings and abstain from sex until marriage.
Some dream of being rock stars just for the selfish fantasy of organizing an assembly line of casual sex partners. In the minds of those with no moral brake on their sex drive, rock stars favoring abstinence are wasting a national resource, akin to monks pledging a vow of poverty while living inside a gold mine.
Last September, the Disney-boosted teen rockers known as the Jonas Brothers were a rich target for mockery at the MTV Video Music Awards for their purity rings. The emcee, a British comedian named Russell Brand, sneered that the Jonas Brothers were "a little bit ungrateful because they could have sex with any woman they want. That is like Superman deciding not to fly and go everywhere on a bus." Tee-hee, and all that.
Ellen McDonnell, National Public Radio’s director of morning programming, sent a memo to staff (reproduced at Poynter Online) that financial hard times require them to gut the basics:
As of April 1 NPR is cancelling all newspaper subscriptions. We are making some arrangments to get the Wall Street Journal either on line or hard copy. You have until tomorrow to appeal this if there is a solid reason why you should be exempt. This is a cost saving measure company wide.
Earth to Ellen: Have you considered that paying salaries of $300,000 or more might be a bigger problem than paying a few quarters for the morning papers? Recall NPR's list of their top five salaries:
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.
As the Dow Jones dipped below 7,000, it’s worth remembering that formerly conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan (for a while with Time magazine, now with The Atlantic) touted how "grown-up" Barack Obama would restore calm in the markets. From the October 17, 2008 Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio, just after Sullivan claimed Gordon Brown and Obama were calming while Bush was not:
Bush at this point, I think largely because of Katrina and Iraq, is unable to use the authority of the office to calm people or the markets, and I think until this election is resolved, the markets will not stabilize. They need to know there is a grown-up back in the White House.
Two days later, Sullivan went on the set of the Chris Matthews Show and declared the McCain campaign a bust on fiscal conservatism: "It's been all tactics and no strategy. He’s supposed to be a fiscal conservative, but in fact he will add more to the debt than Obama will."
In Sullivan’s last appearance on the Sunday Matthews show, on February 15, he wildly denounced the conservatives for daring to oppose his hero Obama’s socialist deficit-spending plans.