Perhaps obviously, George W. Bush didn't grant an interview around his memoir Decision Points to National Public Radio, since they described his presidency daily as the Triumph of the Dark Side. But when they touched on the new book, the hostility was still there.On Tuesday's Morning Edition, Don Gonyea, who covered the White House for most of Bush's presidency offer a brief summary of Bush's interview with NBC's Matt Lauer. There was a little bit on Iraq, and then more time on the drinking problem:
GONYEA: Part of the book is personal, with stories it's awkward to hear him talk about. There's his history as a serious drinker. Again, from NBC. [NBC clip]
BUSH: So, I'm drunk at the dinner table at mother and dad's house in Maine, and my brothers and sister are there, Laura's there. And I'm sitting next to a beautiful woman - friend of mother and dad's - and I said to her, out loud: “What is sex like after 50?”
National Public Radio is strongly urging America to get over its apparently rabid case of Islamophobia. On Sunday night's All Things Considered newscast, anchor Guy Raz played audio clips of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin opposing the Ground Zero Mosque, and then launched into how much this resembles historic anti-Semitism:
In his column today, New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof points out that in 1940, 17 percent of the population considered Jews to be a menace to America. Almost every ethnic group in this country has gone through a period of transition when they had to fight to prove that, indeed, they were Americans.
Rabiah Ahmed and a group of Muslim leaders thought their community had to do the same today. So this week, they launched an online video campaign called "My Faith, My Voice."
In all of its Shirley Sherrod coverage this week, National Public Radio never managed to interview a conservative guest on the subject (other than a few tossed-in audio clips of Andrew Breitbart), although NPR never landed a Sherrod interview, either, despite her whirlwind tour. On Wednesday night's All Things Considered news program, anchor Michele Norris interviewed Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, who predictably scorned the right wing's "Fox obsessions" and "notorious smear artist" Andrew Breitbart. This judgment might be questioned, considering Alter wrote in 1996 it was a "weak case of media malfeasance" when his own magazine's sleuthing about the authenticity of medals spurred an admiral's suicide.
Norris offered Alter only softball liberal questions, allowing him a comfortable platform to promote his pro-Obama book The Promise while he disparaged the conservatives:
NORRIS: Let's set aside the specifics of the Shirley Sherrod case for just a moment and look at what this episode perhaps reveals about the culture of the White House and how it deals with race, and also the culture of the media and how it looks to, in some cases, exploit race for ratings.
The producers of NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered deserve credit for reading listener mail on the air, often to make corrections in the broadcast. But there was really nothing but liberals in the mailbag on Thursday, all furious at NPR for not being strong enough in denouncing Fox News and Andrew Breitbart:
MICHELE NORRIS: Here's some of what you had to say about our coverage of the story. Frank Holk(ph) of Wytheville, Virginia, writes this: I found it distressing that you spent the entire time talking about the actions of the administration with barely a mention of Andrew Breitbart and Fox News. Holk continues: Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to discuss their role in the matter? How about a discussion of Fox's sleazy reporting and Breitbart's fraudulent video editing?
Few seem to remember now, but throughout the 1970s, the advertised threat to society from global cooling was as prevalent as the current global warming alarmism. Publications including The New York Times, Time and Newsweek - the same ones hyping the dangers of a warming planet in 2010 - were warning about global cooling then.
A prominent global cooler from that era has recently passed away. Stephen Schneider, a Stanford University climatologist and United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change member died in London on July 19, as noticed on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." (h/t Tim Graham)
In an interview with NPR's Michele Norris, White House Science Adviser John Holdren remembered Schneider, not for getting the science wrong at first but for inventing this field of science, with its acknowledgement that mankind could change the climate.
On Tuesday night's All Things Considered newscast, Michele Norris sadly relayed news of the Gore separation: "The Gores had a storybook romance: college sweethearts, four beautiful children. Their playful affection energized the campaign trail. The concession was you don't make that kind of stuff up. The Gores' union became a model of stability in a hard-charging town where partnerships, even romantic ones, are sometimes seen as a matter of convenience."
Norris discussed the matter with Rebecca Traister of the liberal website Salon.com, who said she felt "ashamed" and "sort of silly having an investment in a couple that you don't know," and that's when the inevitable secular-left analysis began: traditional, monogamous, heterosexual, reproducing marriage is an archaic social construct:
TRAISTER: And so it is a little bit like mom and dad breaking up out of the blue, except they're not really our mom and dad - and I am aware of that, I just want to make clear.(Laughter)
NORRIS: In some ways is the presidency and the requirements that presidents have solid marriages, is that a bit out of step with larger society, where almost half of all marriages end in divorce?
Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative Attorney General of Virginia, came under attack on Friday night's All Things Considered on National Public Radio. This is one angle of Climategate the national media have noticed. But they pitch the battle as Cuccinelli vs. Science or Cuccinelli vs. Academic Freedom.
What's most infuriating is the notion that it's Cuccinelli who's "politicizing" science, and not Michael Mann's openly politicized e-mails explaining his data manipulations and plotting to censor his political opponents. Somehow, the Union of Concerned Scientists is painted as non-political.
Host Michele Norris began: "The University of Virginia says it will fight a demand from the state's attorney general. He wants the school to turn over private e-mails and documents related to a former professor's climate research. The case has sparked a national debate over academic freedom."
NPR’s All Things Considered aired a long report on Thursday night on nasty Internet commenters – but reporter Laura Sydell’s examples centered on anti-Obama and anti-Muslim commenters (including one who wanted Obama shot), and no one from the left (like the Huffington Post people regretting Cheney wasn't shot in Afghanistan). She began with a sympathetic sick family that favored ObamaCare:
LAURA SYDELL: If you want to know what it's like to get attacked online, just ask Miki Hsu Leavey. She wrote a thankful letter to the editor of the local paper when the health care bill passed. She has lupus. Her 24-year-old son can't get health care because of a preexisting heart condition and her husband was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Ms. MIKI HSU LEAVEY: So my thank you note was really about the relief I had mentally.
SYDELL: When Leavey looked at the site the morning it was posted, she got comments like this one.
Ms. LEAVEY: Oh, my poor baby is sick. Only the great Obama can save him. Makes me sick just reading it.
Sigh. Dionne tried to make the special elections sound like a great week for liberals:
DIONNE: I didn't know tea gave you a hangover, but I think Rand Paul's victory in Kentucky has already given Republicans --
SIEGEL: He won the Senate nomination.
DIONNE: -- he won the Senate nomination. And already, his rather pure strains of libertarianism is causing Republicans trouble. He seems to be against the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned discrimination at lunch counters and hotels and the like. So, that's going to be an interesting race to watch.
Novelist Marc Acito offered a perfect elocution of National Public Radio snobbery on Thursday's All Things Considered. In defending the defensible cause of proper English, Acito equated Palinesque populism with a complete lack of respect for the intellect. Acito even sang (badly) from My Fair Lady to illustrate his point:
You see, My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and both pieces explore the ramifications of learning how to speak properly at a time when elocution was valued as a symbol of education and upward mobility. Emphasis on the was.
Listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt say the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and it's almost inconceivable that ordinary Americans trusted someone who sounded like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island. We are now in an age when Sarah Palin speaks to a quarter of the electorate even though she talks like she's translating into Korean and back again. Even the rhetorically gifted President Obama has felt compelled to drop his G's while trying to sell health care reform.
Liberal media outlets were quick to pounce on the new Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky about his views on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not just Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, but NPR All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel on Wednesday night. The sharp questioning of Paul is a contrast with NPR's interview with Joe Sestak, the new Democrat Senate nominee in Pennsylvania in the same newscast.
NPR anchor Michele Norris glanced right past an important, newsworthy, unresolved issue in Sestak's race, from much more recent history: did the Obama White House bribe him with a job offer to stay out of the primary, as he claimed last year?
NORRIS: It's been reported that the White House at one point tried to get you to back away from this race. Who told you to back down?
NORRIS: And did that continue even after you started to gain on Arlen Specter?
Brent Baker remembered NPR reporter Nina Totenberg found Judge John Roberts carried conservatism to wretched excess. On NPR's All Things Considered back in 2005, she prefaced “conservative” with three verys, describing him as “a very, very, very conservative man.” But in a taped soundbite on the next day's Good Morning America on ABC, she cut back to merely “a very, very conservative man.”
But Totenberg matched other media liberals in finding no measurable ideology in Elena Kagan when her nomination was announced. Within minutes (for the West Coast stations still in Morning Edition time), Totenberg could only exclaim Kagan was "was a star student at Princeton, at Oxford, at Harvard Law School -- then clerked for the man she calls her mentor, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who used to refer to her as Shorty."
NPR's All Things Considered devoted an entire one-sided story Tuesday night to the apparently heart-breaking news that illegal aliens are considering moving out of Arizona to more illegal-friendly states.
Reporter Ted Robbins spent his whole story talking to illegal aliens and their defenders about how they're misunderstood, and even touted how community organizers are "flexing their political muscle" by putting together "barrio defense committees" like "reverse neighborhood watches" to alert illegals that law enforcement is in the area.
One laudable practice at National Public Radio is reading listener reactions on the air. On Monday night's All Things Considered newscast, they noted several listeners objected to NPR media reporter David Folkenflik stating Fox offered "voracious conservatism" while MSNBC merely offered "leftward tilt." Anchor Michelle Norris relayed:
The Pew Research Center last year found that public trust in the media was at an historic low because of those perceived slants. Well, several listeners thought our story had a bit of a slant. Stan Henney of Longmont, Colorado, writes: The reporter described Fox News as voraciously conservative, and MSNBC as tilting to the left. Both are subjective, not objective descriptions. I personally think that while some Fox personalities can be aggressive, MSNBC does a lot more than just tilt.
Does NPR love Barack Obama? Look at how they reviewed an Obama book Tuesday night on All Things Considered:
In many ways, David Remnick's new book, "The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama," is very much like its subject: even-handed, eloquent, beautifully packaged.
The reviewer was Susan Jane Gilman, author of a book called Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven. She liked the Remnick book, but felt that much of it was already familiar and too recent to feel like history. She ended with this:
The leftist Southern Poverty Law Center is a National Public Radio staple in analyzing right-wing militia groups -- and then connecting them to the Tea Party movement and conservative talk-show hosts.
Imagine a conservative group connecting liberal talk-show hosts and protesters to radical leftists like...Bill Ayers. Would they get a baldly promotional interview on NPR? No. But NPR Fresh Air hostess Terry Gross both aided the SPLC with a 37-minute promotional interview on March 25 -- and aided Bill Ayers in trashing Sarah Palin days after the 2008 election.
NPR promoted SPLC's Mark Potok and his narrative of "astounding" growth of militias in the Obama era thanks to "ostensibly mainstream" conservatives on All Things Considered on Tuesday night.
In Friday's speech at George Mason University, President Obama slammed as one of the "crazy things" conservatives said about his health-care effort was that it would offer federal insurance coverage to illegal aliens. On Friday night's All Things Considered newscast on National Public Radio, reporter David Welna's story underlined that liberals like Rep. Luis Gutierrez expected exactly that, but are now hoping that an amnesty bill will make them eligible instead. But Welna sought out no opponents of illegal immigration for comment.
Worse, Welna predicted a large "pro-immigrant activist" protest turnout on Sunday, in advance:
The renewed effort to move immigration legislation comes as thousands of pro-immigrant activists plan to march on the Capitol this Sunday as the final showdown on health care begins in the House.
As Brian Williams hailed Patrick Kennedy’s "gripping" attack on the media for ignoring yesterday’s House debate on Afghanistan, perhaps Kennedy should be offering an apology to his fellow liberals at National Public Radio. On Wednesday’s night’s All Things Considered, NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook hailed the debate, and even though Kennedy’s "anti-war" side lost by almost 6 to 1 (356 to 65), NPR’s soundbite count was far different: three for "peace," two for "war."
Seabrook seemed thrilled that Kucinich had pressed this rather pointless debate. She concluded that it was "elemental," where the peaceniks could just talk of peace:
The most striking thing about the debate today was that the House was having it at all. This is the first time since Congress voted to authorize the war in 2001 that there's been a clear debate about the policy. In previous debates, the war policy was always connected to its funding. So, if lawmakers didn't support the war, they would have to vote against a bill that included support for the troops. That's a tough position for an elected official whose charge, in part, is to deploy the armed forces responsibly.
Robert Siegel, an anchor of NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered, had an emotional response on Wednesday night as Pew pollster Andrew Kohut described how young adults voted heavily for Obama and call themselves liberals, are less "militaristic" and less religious: "Who raised these terrific kids, Andy?" The men laughed.
The Pew Research Center studied the "millennials," those aged 18 to 29 who did much growing up in the first decade of the new century. Here’s how the discussion unfolded:
SIEGEL: Give us a thumbnail sketch of the millennials.
KOHUT: They're Democratic. They voted very heavily for Barack Obama. They're a little less supportive of Obama today, but still - compared to other generations - they are more supportive of the Democratic Party. They're more supportive of Barack Obama.
They call themselves liberals. Yes, they use the L-word. Twenty-nine percent of them say they're liberals. Less than 20 percent of all of the other generations say that. They're very tolerant of gays and race...
National Public Radio covered the "Code Red" protests against liberal health "reform" plans on Tuesday night’s All Things Considered newscast, but the tone wasn’t loaded with respect. Correspondent Andrea Seabrook, the same reporter who recently bowed before Michelle Obama on NPR as "the perfect mix of personable and formal, poise and personality," played up a dorks-with-pitchforks angle for conservative protesters.
Seabrook found a man with a papier-mache pitchfork and torch and sneered: "They're happy to tell you they're the right-wing mob, several hundred people gathered to listen to their favorite conservative lawmakers."
Several hundred? NPR’s estimate was way below a report from Politico, which estimated attendance as "several thousand." Seabrook concluded with brio that the protesters wanted to "shove the entire health care bill off a cliff." Here’s how it sounded:
Last week, NPR president Vivian Schiller took questions briefly on washingtonpost.com about the taxpayer-funded radio network. When the liberal-bias question came up, she claimed "NPR tilts left! NPR tilts right! Frankly, we hear it equally from both sides -- or should I say from ALL since most issues are not that linear. The fact is, NPR takes NO sides."
When someone discussed the regular commentaries of NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr, she claimed: "Dan Schor [sic] is a liberal commentator. I will not deny that is true. So what do we do about that? We balance his views with those of conservative guest commentators who frequently appear on our airwaves."
But what if those conservative guests just happen to take a stand NPR likes? Case in point: on Tuesday night’s All Things Considered, NPR touted a Sarah Palin book review by "conservative columnist" Rod Dreher, who concluded: "She quotes her father's line upon her resignation this summer as Alaska's governor: Sarah's not retreating, she's reloading. On evidence of this book, Sarah Palin is charging toward 2012 shooting blanks."
Speaking of blanks, did Dreher really read the whole book? On his Beliefnet blog yesterday, Dreher blogged at 12:35 pm that he was 100 pages in. All Things Considered starts airing locally at 4 pm. Did he really finish the book and write a script before the taping?
On Monday night’s All Things Considered newscast on National Public Radio, reporter Joseph Shapiro recounted the sympathetic story of Regina Holliday, who lost her 39-year-old husband Fred to kidney cancer. Holliday painted a mural in Washington demanding "We Need Health Reform Now." (It’s headlined "A Widow Paints a Health Care Protest" and it's the most popular story on Wednesday at NPR.org.)
But Shapiro’s story actually skimmed over just how passionately ideological Holliday’s mural is. She's amazed anyone could possibly be against health reform. On her blog she explained that she painted her opponents as a little girl in a red, white, and blue outfit: "I wondered 'Howcan you be against this?' Then I realized they were acting like people who have been abused. She is a pretty little girl with welts on her legs..." [Italics hers.]
On air, NPR stuck to the heart-tugging narrative. The politics emerged late in the story:
NPR "senior news analyst" Daniel Schorr recited the socialist sermon on Wednesday night’s All Things Considered: nationalized health care "would save many lives," and all that bother about providing taxpayer-subsidized abortions and health care for illegal aliens are tiresome "distractions" from the urgent need for more government. Schorr lamented:
Barring illegal from insurance benefits doesn't bar them from receiving treatment in a hospital emergency room. ERs have become the place of treatment of last resort for too many people here legally or illegally. T.R. Reid tells of a dramatic case in his book "The Healing of America." Nikki White lost her job and health insurance as a result of having a type of lupus. Because of her pre-existing condition, she couldn't get new health insurance. Eventually, she collapsed and was taken to the emergency room. Three doctors undertook to treat her until her condition stabilized. That involved six months in critical care and 25 surgical operations. Then she went home, still without insurance, and died at the age of 32. Her doctor, Amylyn Crawford, said: Nikki died of complications of the failing American health care system.
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.
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.
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:
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: