Conservatives who really wanted to see at least a spending “haircut” for NPR or public broadcasting in the underwhelming budget deal for 2011 might have suggested at least some symbolic victory for conservatives. Here it is: Fire David Brooks as the alleged conservative or Republican “counterpoint” on PBS and NPR on Friday nights. We could hire Donald Trump to announce it from the boardroom.
Or keep him, but banish forever, for once and for all, the notion that he is a man of the Right.
After President Obama’s budget speech at George Washington University, Brooks wrote a column for The New York Times declaring: “It doesn't take a genius to see that Obama is very likely to be re-elected.” Republicans may try to reform entitlements, but “voters, even Republican voters, reject this.” Obama “hit the political sweet spot with his speech this week. He made a sincere call to reduce debt, which will please independents, but he did not specify any tough choices.”
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Tovia Smith promoted a homosexual activist's campaign protesting the inability of same-sex couples to file joint federal tax returns. Smith played sound bites from the founder of the campaign, as well as two other supporters of same-sex "marriage," but omitted any from opponents. NPR also highlighted the tax-related "complications" of a specific same-sex couple on Friday's Morning Edition.
Host Renee Montagne introduced Smith's report by noting how "some same-sex married couples are planning a protest this Tax Day. They object to the federal law requiring them to check the 'single' box on their federal tax returns....In defiance of that law, known as DOMA, some couples are checking the married box on their federal returns."
The $1.8 million grant George Soros gave to NPR was for local reporters in every state capital. But that doesn't mean NPR isn't also beginning to look like a Soros-pleaser on the national scene. Once again on Monday, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik went after Rupert Murdoch, and a voice-mail-hacking scandal at his U.K. tabloid News of the World. In England, the socialist newspaper The Guardian has been all over this story of disreputable media conduct, but The New York Times also filed a story on April 8.
Folkenflik found dramatic former Murdoch employees, like Andrew Neil, who made Watergate analogies. Folkenflik insisted the damage to Murdoch may not be contained, and then quoted Neil: "Who knew - the old Watergate question - who knew and when did you know it?" It began like this:
ROBERT SIEGEL: One of Britain's most popular newspapers has admitted that it hacked into the private voicemails of celebrities and politicians. NPR's David Folkenflik reports that the story underscores close ties between the authorities and Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye is the latest Times reporter to defend government spending, this time on a tiny but "life-affirming" radio station threatened by the Republican budget ax - public radio station WMMT in Whitesburg, Kentucky: “A Regional Radio Voice Threatened From Afar.” The story was accompanied by a cutesy sidebar, “88.7 on Appalachia’s Dial,” describing such original programming as “Holler to the Hood,” “which plays hip-hop aimed at the growing prison population in the region.” Sounds vital. Only one problem: The funding is being challenged by "the rise of the Tea Party and with anti-earmark, budget-cutting fervor gripping the nation’s capital."
Seelye handed the mic to a lefty from the “private Community Action Council,” a “private” group that nonetheless gets 95% of its money from the federal government.
Eleanor Beardsley slanted towards opponents of France's ban on the niqab, or Islamic face veil, on two NPR programs on Monday. Beardsley played several sound bites from French Muslims during her Morning Edition report who forwarded the notion that the law contributes to an "anti-Muslim climate" in the country, and agreed with a guest on Tell Me More who labeled the ban "sinister."
The correspondent, who is based in France, led her report on Morning Edition with a clip from the imam of a mosque in Aubervilliers, a suburb of Paris, who stated, "You know there is an Islamophobic climate right now and the police don't like to see us praying in the streets." She also turned to another Muslim man who singled out the niqab ban for contributing to this apparent climate:
NPR's Cokie Roberts hinted congressional Republicans were going to resort to extreme tactics regarding the debt ceiling on Monday's Morning Edition. Roberts noted the "rough votes" on the horizon in Congress, specifying the "debt ceiling that has to be increased, where Republicans have promised Armageddon."
Host Renee Montagne brought on the journalist to talk mainly about the recent proposed agreement on the budget between the Democrats and Republicans. Near the end of the segment, however, Montagne raised the other budget-related battles that are expected later in the year. Roberts dropped the biblical reference in her answer:
You would think after the Juan Williams debacle, NPR would keep away from bashing Fox News again. But even as NPR's liberal bias remains controversial in Congress, NPR is still waging war on Fox. It's apparently the only national news outlet worth questioning. On Thursday night's All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik profiled Bret Baier, but delighted liberals by announcing that he had studied six months of guest lists for Special Report with Bret Baier, and he insisted liberals were underrepresented:
FOLKENFLIK: I reviewed six months' worth of Baier's panels, and the same mix typically prevailed: two clear-cut conservatives and one other analyst, sometimes a Democrat or liberal but usually a journalist from a non-ideological news outlet. As I told Baier, that would seem to under-represent the left and also to cast reporters as though they're surrogate liberals.
NPR's Ari Shapiro slanted towards President Obama and two of his Democratic allies in Congress on Thursday's Morning Edition on the continuing battle over the federal budget, playing seven sound bites from them versus only three from Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Shapiro highlighted the late night negotiations over the budget on Wednesday during his report, playing three clips from the President and one from Senator Harry Reid before even getting to his first one from Speaker Boehner:
In the midst of Republicans insisting on defunding NPR, the network thumbed its nose at the GOP again on Tuesday night's All Things Considered newscast by having a book review offered by hard-left "comedian" and failed radio host Janeane Garofalo. The book she reviewed was Tina Fey's new memoir, titled Bossypants. Garofalo spent most of the review in a rut of self-pity, but this political passage popped out:
Another area of interest to me was Tina's discussion of what happened when she impersonated Sarah Palin on "SNL" and became a target of ill-founded wrath. Regrettably, it's always been easy to marshal cultural hostility toward women, especially in politics, where double standards and misogyny tend to dominate the conversation. Those are my words, not Tina's.
Was Tina Fey the victim of cultural hostility toward women? Or was she the one dishing it out?
On Tuesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Melissa Block grilled Congressman Joe Walsh, a newly-elected member of the House Tea Party Caucus, on the impasse over the federal budget. Block questioned Rep. Walsh if there was any "middle ground" on the issue, and pressed him with the Democratic caucus's label that the Republicans' budget proposals are "out of whack and unreasonable."
The host led her interview of the Illinois Republican by noting how there was "still no deal. House Republicans holding out for $61 billion in cuts," and then asked, "Is there any middle ground for you?" After Rep. Walsh gave his initial answer, she followed up with the Democrats' talking point: "Democrats, though, say that it's the Republicans who've been intransigent, that the numbers are just out of whack and unreasonable, that you are the side that's not compromising here."
Block forwarded this label of the congressman and his GOP colleagues in her third question, using one of his own quotes to accent her point: "You said in an interview with Time magazine, I came here- meaning to Washington- ready to go to war. The people didn't send me here to compromise. It sounds like you are just as intransigent as you're accusing the Democrats of being."
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston touted Attorney General Eric Holder's reluctance to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay military trials during a segment on Monday's All Things Considered. Temple-Raston and host Michele Norris only featured sound bites from the Justice Department head, omitting clips from supporters of the military tribunals.
Norris began by noting the Obama administration's "major reversal" in their decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 suspects in military court. After playing a clip from Attorney General Holder's recent press conference, where he announced the move, the host turned to the correspondent and recounted how " in late 2009...Holder announced that these five conspirators will be tried in New York City in a civilian trial. So today's decision officially reverses that."
Temple-Raston, who conducted a sting operation against U.S. border agents earlier in 2011 by wearing a headscarf and posing as Muslim woman, mainly acted as stenographer for the attorney general, though she did acknowledge the mismanagement of the rollout for the civilian trials plan:
Some wonder if NPR is altering its left-wing tilt while it’s in the middle of a budget fight in Congress. For evidence that nothing’s changed, see Thursday’s Diane Rehm show, starring socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. Rehm touted his latest book, The Speech (published by the radical Nation magazine’s Nation Books), taken from a "historic" Sanders eight-hour filibuster/jeremiad on the Senate floor against last December’s deal extending the Bush tax cuts.
Rehm began: "Thank you. Before we begin to talk about the speech, tell me your thoughts on what is happening in Libya. We now have CIA people on the ground. It strikes me that that is precisely how Vietnam began." From there, she actually insisted to Sanders that public broadcasting has socialist impulses in questioning America’s unequal distribution of wealth:
On Monday's Morning Edition, NPR's David Schaper slanted towards a professor and his allies in academia who object to a recent open records request into his e-mails from the Wisconsin GOP, playing five sound bites from them versus only two from a non-Republican source who thought their concerns were overblown. One of the professor's allies labeled the request a "contemporary version of McCarthyism."
Host Renee Montagne introduced Schaper's report by putting the issue in the context of the continuing debate over state employees' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin:
If you thought of a place on the radio dial on a Saturday morning where Sen. Tom Coburn would be pressed as squishy, it probably wouldn't be NPR. But on Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR anchor Scott Simon asked some basic questions about a budget deal, and then shifted to Grover Norquist's criticisms of Coburn for being a tax hiker. This could be seen as quite an anti-Grover segment, with how strongly Coburn attacked him:
SCOTT SIMON: Let me ask you about a debate that was brought to my attention this week. You're -- Oklahoma, I think can fairly be identified as a farming state. You're opposed to ethanol subsidies.
TOM COBURN: Well, I'm specifically opposed to the ethanol blending credit, which is just one of the subsidies that we give for ethanol.
SIMON: This has opened up, as I don't have to tell you, a pointed disagreement with Grover Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform.
NPR's Julie Rovner lined up proponents of the federal Title X program on Friday's Morning Edition, devoting most of her four-minute report to three employees at a Washington, DC health care clinic who all pushed for continuing the funding of the subsidy for contraceptives. Rovner left only 30 seconds for a conservative advocate of defunding the program.
During the bulk of her report, the correspondent featured Unity Health Care's Upper Cardozo Clinic in Washington, DC. She stated that it is locate in a "heavily Hispanic neighborhood" and accented this by playing a clip of one of the clinic's doctors, Andrea Anderson, speaking in Spanish with a patient. Dr. Anderson's female patient had a "sinus problem," according to Rovner, but continued by noting that the "family physician" also asked the patient "if she's happy with the birth control method she's using. Thanks to the Title X program, Unity has available a wide array of contraceptive options....Anderson says one of her favorite things about the family planning program is the way it lets her integrate contraceptive choices into her everyday practice."
On Wednesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Ari Shapiro acted as a stenographer for the Obama administration's energy proposals. Shapiro played four clips from the President's recent speech on the issue, and another from a sympathetic environmentalist. Even the lone clip from an oil industry representative came from someone who "supports the move to invest in biofuels and clean energy."
At the beginning of his report, the correspondent noted that "the White House described this event as a pivot away from speeches about Libya and Japan. But President Obama acknowledged that those crises make it important to talk about energy now." After playing his first clip from the chief executive, who stated that "the situation in the Middle East implicates our energy security," Shapiro stayed within the perspective set by the Democrat: "America's past is strewn with moments when a global crisis has driven up the price of gas or scared people about the risks of nuclear energy."
Greedy, deep-pocketed Wal-Mart went to the Supreme Court yesterday to argue it's "too big to sue."
That's the sort of rhetoric one might expect from Brad Seligman, one of the attorneys representing Christine Kwapnowski and a handful of other women who are suing Wal-Mart on the claim of gender discrimination.
Appearing with Kwapnowski on Tuesday's CBS "Early Show," Seligman used those words to deride Wal-Mart's argument about why the Supreme Court should not let his and numerous other discrimination suits across the country to be consolidated into a single class action case.
On Monday's All Things Considered, NPR's Bob Mondello used movies about fictional nuclear disasters, such as "The China Syndrome" and "Silkwood," to play up atomic energy's hazards. Mondello especially highlighted the 1959 movie "On the Beach" as supposedly coming the closest to the portraying a real-life radiation catastrophe, such as the ongoing crisis at the Japanese nuclear plant.
Host Melissa Block noted the movie critic's 2010 report comparing Hollywood disaster films to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in her introduction: "Last summer, as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was finally brought under control...Bob Mondello did a comparison for us on Hollywood disaster movies and how they differ from real world disasters. Well, in the last few weeks, as tragic events have played out in Japan, Bob realized he had left something out of that story: the menace that can't be seen."
Even when they tackle the question of NPR's liberal bias, NPR can't help themselves. The NPR show On The Media on Saturday aired a segment on the question of bias lasting 18 minutes. NPR offered the largest chunk of time (eight minutes) to Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew Research Center, who asserted that data on story selection and tone do not demonstrate a liberal bias at NPR.
Another almost three minutes were granted to Steve Rendall of the radical-left group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. He wouldn't say NPR was conservative, but complained "we've had four decades of formal campaigning by the right, by groups like Accuracy in Media, the Media Research Center, the Heritage Foundation to portray our media, corporate and public broadcasting, as being to the left of center. It's paid off. And I think the fact that we're having this discussion here [in which Rendall was allowed to speak, and MRC and AIM and Heritage were not], the fact that there's a debate in Congress shows how much it's paid off."
By contrast, NPR host Brooke Gladstone devoted 90 seconds to the findings of professors Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo, who found, she said, that NPR was "much less liberal than the New York Times." Conservatives were represented not by experts, but by two average NPR listeners, who were granted five minutes. That's about 35 percent of the time.
Liberals have a bad habit of mixing funerals (or death anniversaries) with political rallies. On Friday night's All Things Considered, NPR's Robert Smith offered a story that was 100 percent about union activists and liberal politicians, with no rebuttals.
NPR anchor Melissa Block began: "New York City today marked the 100th anniversary of one of its worst disasters: a fire at the Triangle shirtwaist factory that killed 146 people. NPR's Robert Smith reports that the city's unions used today to voice their anger over recent union setbacks."
Smith revealed Sen. Charles Schumer somehow connected Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to those long-ago fiery deaths:
Just like ABC making Jake Tapper drama critic for a day, NPR sent reporter Robert Smith to view and honor the new musical The Book of Mormon for All Things Considered. Anchor Robert Siegel began: "The show was not written or endorsed by the church. It is a searing comedy from the team behind South Park. NPR's Robert Smith reports that the production is probably the most offensive, yet sweetest, show on Broadway."
Smith brought along Elna Baker, a self-proclaimed "token Mormon," to approve the show. On Friday night, NPR read a letter from a disapproving listener in Connecticut: "Trying to legitimize this play by having one Mormon say she saw it and thought it was funny doesn't hold with me. Maybe if you could have gotten a high-ranking official of the Mormon Church to say that they thought the play was in good taste would have been more appropriate."
So who is Elna Baker? It turns out she's a Mormon stand-up comedian who's also appeared on NPR's This American Life, and knows her away around very "adult" humor, like these jokes on her blog about the 50 most common lies she tells:
For over two years, liberals and conservatives have been at odds over whether the public actually wants ObamaCare.
On Friday's "Inside Washington," NPR's Nina Totenberg took the predictable liberal position that polls show folks want all the "goodies" in the bill, but Charles Krauthammer made it clear that these survey results change drastically when people are told the cost (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Katrina Vanden Heuvel isn’t alone when she claimed on MSNBC that her magazine The Nation wasn’t leftish, it was “transpartisan” and “independent.” Bill Moyers (alongside Michael Winship) has penned a third loopy attack on conservative critics of NPR. It’s gotten so loopy that Moyers claims he’s never heard anyone advocate liberal ideas on NPR:
For one, when we described the right-wing media machine as NPR’s "long-time nemesis," it was not to suggest that somehow public radio is its left-wing opposite. When it comes to covering and analyzing the news, the reverse of right isn't left; it's independent reporting that toes neither party nor ideological line. We’ve heard no NPR reporter -- not a one -- advocating on the air for more government spending (or less), for the right of abortion (or against it), for or against gay marriage, or for or against either political party, especially compared to what we hear from Fox News and talk radio on all of these issues and more.
Moyers brazenly claims that it’s conservative NPR critics who can’t stand debates or differing points of view, and that they loathe NPR because it’s “fact-driven” and has a high regard for evidence:
On Thursday's All Things Considered, NPR's Jim Zarroli vouched for continuing federal funding of public broadcasting by lining up seven sound bites from three supporters of the medium, versus only two from opponents. The supporters all hyped the dire effects if tax dollars no longer went to public TV and radio. Zarroli also completely avoided any mention of NPR's longstanding reputation for liberal bias.
Host Robert Siegel introduced the correspondent's report by playing up how "Congress gave $430 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Roughly three-quarters went to public TV stations, and a quarter or so to public radio stations. With Republicans again calling for CPB funding to be cut, NPR's Jim Zarroli looks at how that money is spent and what might happen if it's eliminated."
Zaroli picked up where Siegel left off: "Over the years, conservatives have often tried to eliminate money for public broadcasting without succeeding. In 1995, for instance, congressional Republicans tried to zero out CPB funds. Within a few years, CPB's budget was bigger than ever." He continued by introducing his first supporter of public broadcasting: "Pat Butler of the Public Media Association, which lobbies for PBS and public radio, says the odds against public broadcasting are greater this time."
[Update, 10:20 am Friday: The original version of this item stated that Brandon Smith worked for Indiana Public Radio. He is actually affiliated with Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations.]
NPR's Steve Inskeep, who used "deceitful sophistry" to contend that his network's audience leaned right in a Thursday WSJ column, also claimed in the same piece that "not much of the media pays attention to the middle of the country, but NPR and its local stations do." But an affiliate in his home state of Indiana touted the findings of a pro-ObamaCare organization on the first anniversary of its passage, while leaving out anything from opponents.
Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations led his Wednesday report on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the legislation by trumpeting how "Families USA, a non-partisan, national health care advocacy organization, released state-by-state data on the potential impact of the law." Despite running a sound bite from Ron Pollack, the executive director of the organization, and highlighting some of their data specific to Indiana, Smith didn't point out Families USA's liberal political leanings. NPR correspondent Julie Rovner also omitted the organization's ideological affiliation on Wednesday's Morning Edition, the very program which Inskeep hosts.
Newsweek worried this week that “What’s Killing NPR” is declining to let its journalists deny (ludicrously) that there’s any liberal bias on its airwaves. Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep is now taking on the lead lobbyist’s role with an op-ed in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal with the headline “Liberal Bias at NPR?” Inskeep’s claiming the answer is “No.”
The pull-quote in the paper is “Surveys show that millions of conservatives choose NPR, even with powerful conservative alternatives on the radio.” He also uses a GfK poll to argue "most [NPR] listeners consistently identify themselves as 'middle of the road' or 'conservative.'" The actual results from that poll: 28% conservative, 25% percent middle of the road, 37% percent liberal. Even NPR lovers accused Inskeep of using “fuzzy math” to fight the liberal-bias claim, like Jeff Bercovici at Forbes:
So, yes, it's accurate to say that 53 percent of NPR listeners - ie. "most" listeners - are either self-described conservatives of middle-of-the-roaders. But it's even more accurate to say that most listeners - 62 percent - are self-described liberals or middle-roaders.
NPR's Julie Rovner put the best liberal spin on the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law on Wednesday's Morning Edition. When an opponent of the legislation stated that supporters would try to "create constituencies that will fight to preserve it...[by] spending hundreds of billions of dollars on health insurance subsidies," Rover added that "those are just a few of the law's benefits."
The correspondent led her report with sound bites from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who marveled over the "landmark law," and Senator Orrin Hatch, who labeled it "one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of this country." She continued by focusing on the opponents of ObamaCare:
Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz suggests “What’s Killing NPR” is its failure to strike back at conservative charges of liberal bias: “Staffers flown in for a recent meeting in Washington groaned when executives said it would be too risky for them to aggressively defend NPR, and that perhaps they should get media training for Joyce Slocum, who took over on an interim basis after the firing of CEO Vivian Schiller.”
Kurtz quotes a series of angry NPR anchors who think they are the essence of fairness and balance. Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep insisted “I actually get accused of being a conservative as often as I get accused of being a liberal.” Kurtz asserted in an NPR survey last year, 37 percent of listeners described themselves as liberal or very liberal, 25 percent as middle of the road, and 28 percent as conservative or very conservative—a split he said was very much on Inskeep’s mind. “If you’re saying we’re a liberal propaganda front,” he says, “you’re insulting the intelligence of millions and millions of conservatives who listen to us every day. You are saying they’re stupid.”