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.
Conservative authors rarely get interviewed on National Public Radio. (For example, there was no air time for Mark Levin's best-seller Liberty and Tyranny.) When they do, it can be like Bill O'Reilly's sour and hostile experience with Fresh Air interviewer Terry Gross. On Monday, Gross provided a much kinder 35-minute forum for someone apparently more respectable and noteworthy than conservative writers:
Melissa Febos' new memoir, Whip Smart, details the four years she spent working as a dominatrix. Febos enacted fantasy sequences, spanked grown men and verbally humiliated them for $75 an hour in a dungeon located somewhere in midtown Manhattan.
Febos, who writes that she got started in sex work to pay for a drug habit, tells Terry Gross that working in a dungeon felt like "being in a womb."
Here’s how National Public Radio celebrates the week before Christmas, with cutesy ukelele songs about feminism. On Monday, the nationally distributed talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross rebroadcast a 2007 interview with leftist singer Nellie McKay (pronounced to rhyme with rye), who has a new album out of Doris Day covers. McKay began the replayed segment by performing a song called "Mother of Pearl" that's sort of a cousin of "Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter." The lines in parentheses were usually spoken, as the voice of sexist conservatives:
Feminists don't have a sense of humor (Tsk, tsk, tsk)
Feminists just want to be alone (Boo, hoo, hoo, hoo)
Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor
They have a tumor on their funny bone
So far, so good, but then the feminist satire kicks in:
They say child molestation isn't funny (Ha, ha, ha, ha)
Rape and degradation's just a crime (Lighten up, ladies.)
Rampant prostitution, sex for money (What's wrong with that?)
Can't these chicks do anything but whine? (Dance break!)
The folks at National Public Radio really don’t like Fox News. They don’t like NPR people on Fox News. When the NPR talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross wanted to discuss Fox News and its role in nurturing tea-party protests, they gave 40 minutes to David Weigel of the left-wing site The Washington Independent. It had the usual tone of exploring the dark side of the moon. Gross led off the show discussing the new conservative protests:
It's a right-wing movement that has been interrupting town hall meetings, staging tea party protests, and challenging Obama's citizenship. The new influence of Fox News TV host Glenn Beck was demonstrated by the 9/12 March on Washington, which he promoted on his show.
To NPR, apparently every Tea Party protester is a birther, and every conservative question at a town hall meeting was an "interruption." They discussed his article on the recent Values Voter Summit for Christian conservatives first, and then turned to the topic of Fox:
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.
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.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Richard Cizik resigned his position as spokesman and vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals after he declared he was "shifting" toward supporting civil unions for homosexual couples in a December 2 National Public Radio interview.
Geoffrey Nunberg is a liberal professor of linguistics at Cal-Berkeley and has advised Senator Byron Dorgan and other Senate Democrats on their use of language. He’s the author of the book Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism Into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show. So of course, he’s also a regular on National Public Radio – as a commentator on language for the program Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
On Wednesday’s program he mocked the Republicans for reviving the apparently antiquated word "socialism" as a charge against the latte-drinking left:
On Wednesday, the NPR talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross aired an interview about Sarah Palin with Michael Carey, columnist and former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News and public broadcasting host (of a political talk show called Anchorage Edition). Gross aggressively went after Palin on every front, including her "extreme" religious views:
GROSS: Sarah Palin's religious views strike some people as extreme. For example, in 2005, she attended a service at her former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, where a bishop from Kenya prayed over her, asking Jesus to keep her safe from every form of witchcraft, and he had claimed to have driven out a witch from his village in Kenya. In June, she told a group that his prayers helped her to become governor. Have her religious views been seen as extreme at all within Alaska?
"And as we're talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated," Gore said. "And last year a catastrophic storm from last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China - and we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."
Republicans are welcome on National Public Radio – especially if they’re former Republicans who think the Bush-Cheney administration is a reckless disaster. On April 17, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross interviewed former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who’s now left the GOP and gone independent. He has a new book titled "Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President." Chafee wasn’t kidding: he told Gross the Democratic opposition was too weak, and regretted not contesting President Bush’s election in 2000, as the Congressional Black Caucus requested. NPR’s Fresh Air site also reprinted an excerpt from Chafee’s book, as he described his horror at a meeting with Dick Cheney pressing his "clashist" agenda.
But Chafee’s GOP primary opponent in 2006, Cranston mayor Steve Laffey, also wrote a book (published last September) called Primary Mistake, complaining that the national GOP favored the hopelessly liberal Chafee. NPR and Fresh Air didn’t grant him a book interview. The ideology didn’t match as neatly as NPR’s and Chafee’s did. Here’s a part of the interview where Chafee underlines how nobody in Washington stands up to the Bush-Cheney machine:
National Public Radio knows how to identify itself as the secular liberal media. On Good Friday, the show Fresh Air with Terry Gross recycled a 2004 interview with retired academic John Dominic Crossan, a co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, a man who believes the Gospels are largely mythology, someone's ahistorical hopes, and that the resurrection of Jesus never occurred, and that perhaps the body of Jesus was consumed by wild dogs. In this interview, Gross also asked him to comment on (disparage) the movie The Passion of the Christ, which he eagerly did. He suggested too much focus on the passion of Christ is "dangerously close to pathological." (Photo from NPR.org)
On Friday, the NPR chat show Fresh Air with Terry Gross (aired on over 400 stations from WHYY in Philadelphia) carried two interviews on science and religion. They might claim the discussion was balanced, but not when you consider the time allotted, as listed on the NPR web page:
Apparently, an almost three-to-one time difference is a fair fight on NPR.
In case that's not imbalanced enough, the Dawkins page also helpfully links to another 30-minute NPR interview with Dawkins about his book The God Delusion on the show Talk of the Nation. The interviews are repeats from last year, but NPR doesn't generally tell listeners about that when the show airs.
Philip Shenon, investigative reporter for the New York Times, has written a book on the 9-11 Commission and talked about it with Fresh Air host Terry Gross on National Public Radio Monday. Judging by Shenon's past willingness to heap all of the blame for 9-11 on the then eight-month old Bush administration (as opposed to the eight years of Clinton that preceded it), it's no surprise he praised Clinton's former National Security Advisor, the disgraced Sandy Berger, who got caught and convicted for shoving copies of classified documents into his socks.
I've been too busy with the Hillary book to blog, but I've been really wanting to agree with Radio Equalizer and others that the Center for American Progress/Free Press talk-radio study has huge holes in it. The biggest one is excluding public radio talk shows. It’s simply inaccurate to argue there’s little or no progressive talk in major markets with NPR affiliates broadcasting the Diane Rehm show, or Fresh Air with Terry Gross, or the new Michel Martin vehicle Tell Me More, or the Tavis Smiley radio show, or the other national and local left-leaning talk programs. A right-winger could even count Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion sometimes!
National Public Radio offers a natural book-buying audience for ultraliberal Sen. Ted Kennedy as he sells his new tome, titled "America Back On Track." On yesterday's nationally syndicated "Diane Rehm Show," NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook sat in for Rehm. The show should have been called "The Senate Floor," since Kennedy's answers routinely went beyond two minutes and started sounding like floor speeches, as Seabrook deferentially waited for Kennedy to come up for air.
For example, Seabrook's second question was simple: "How did America get off track?" Kennedy offered a windy two-minute attack/answer about George Bush and Karl Rove's "politics of fear," as well as darkness, division, and personal destruction, just to round it out:
On Tuesday's edition of "Fresh Air," the daily one-hour interview show on National Public Radio, airing on hundreds of NPR affiliates across the country, host Terry Gross interviewed Paul Weitz, director of the new Bush-mocking movie "American Dreamz." Gross helped Weitz to explain his point that "dreams are sometimes delusions," like democracy in Iraq. Weitz expressed sorrow that John Kerry lost to Bush in 2004 because "he was able to look at both sides of an issue, which seems to be the hallmark of intelligence."
Weitz began by suggesting his movie was a way of dealing with how America has been paralyzed by irrational fear since 9/11, so paralyzed it's almost impossible to have a rational thought in George Bush's America:
On Wednesday, NPR's "Fresh Air With Terry Gross," which airs on hundreds of NPR stations across America, interviewed long-time New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer on his new book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii To Iraq." To Kinzer, every American intervention is a nightmare, one he compared to child abuse:
These interventions abroad, these overthrows of foreign governments, not only plunge whole regions of the world into instability and turn them into places from which undreamed threats emerge years later, but they undermine American security. They are not just bad for the countries where we intervene. You cannot violently overthrow a foreign regime and then expect that that won't have any long-term effect. It's like beating your child every day. You cannot expect that that child is going to grow up normal.
As the Meredith Vieira incident shows us, network anchors and talk show hosts can display their biases off the air by where they go and speak...or march. At the tail end of "Hardball" Thursday night, MRC's Geoff Dickens found MSNBC host Chris Matthews promoted Rosie O'Donnell and her new HBO documentary on her gay-family cruises. But the real eye-opening part for media watchdogs was Matthews admitting he spoke at an event for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobbying group, in Philadelphia. (Sure enough, here's a picture, with the Matthews mane in a frostier phase. And wow! See another media speaker, NPR "Fresh Air" hostess Terry Gross, whose show originates from Philly.) Matthews explained:
On Tuesday, National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross" interviewed Fred Barnes of FNC and the Weekly Standard on his new book "Rebel In Chief." Gross began by asking Barnes if after the anti-Bush books by old Bush officials like Paul O'Neill and Bruce Bartlett, he set out to be a pro-Bush counterweight to those. (He said no.) NPR's website also posted an excerpt of the book, including Barnes reporting on an afternoon meeting with network anchors before the 2005 State of the Union address:
For now, though, the president has to attend an off-the-record lunch in the White House study adjacent to the State Dining Room. "Why do I have to go to this meeting?" Bush asks his communications director, Dan Bartlett. "It's traditional," Bartlett explains. Indeed, for years, the president has hosted the TV news anchors for lunch on the day of the State of the Union address. It's an invitation the anchors eagerly accept. Peter Jennings and George Stephanopoulos of ABC, Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams of NBC, Chris Wallace and Brit Hume of Fox, and Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff of CNN will be there. So will Dan Rather of CBS, magnanimously invited in spite of having sought to derail the president's reelection campaign by spotlighting four documents (later proved to be fabrications) that indicated Bush had used political pull to get into the Texas Air National Guard and avoid Vietnam duty, and that he had been honorably discharged without fully completing his service. (At the lunch, Rather will suddenly appear solicitous of Bush. "Thank you, Mr. President," he will say as he leaves. "Thank you, Mr. President." Bush will betray no hint of satisfaction.)