NPR on Saturday: Playing Down Kerry's Gaffe, Playing Up Old Gore 2000 Bitterness

On NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, the network’s senior "news analyst," Daniel Schorr, offered a typical liberal pundit’s take that John Kerry’s remarks about bad students being "stuck in Iraq" wouldn’t harm the Democrats in the midterm elections, but somehow has a serious impact on his ambitions of running for president again. NPR also featured, on the last weekend before midterm elections, a novelist restating bitter charges that George Bush and the Republicans stole the 2000 election in Florida.Substitute host Lynn Neary described the Kerry remarks: "But will these words have lasting effect on this congressional race, do you think? Or on his career?" Schorr replied:

"Oh, I don’t think it will have much effect on the congressional race. But on his career, if any, I think, yes, he came out sounding as though, and there was a great deal of confusion from beginning to end as to just what he said, and just what exactly he meant to say at Pasadena College out in California. Might have been trying to tell them if they want to get good jobs and not be reduced to going into the Army, they should study hard. It was supposed to be a speech about learning and studying. It didn’t work very well. It sounded as though he was making a very nasty dig at president bush. And as to whether Senator Kerry will run [for president] again, I don’t know if he planned to, but I must say this sets back his chances some."

Schorr also curtly dismissed the administration in other foreign-policy areas, sniffing at the possible return to power of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega by suggesting this time there won’t be another Iran-contra scandal, and dismissing North Korea’s agreement to hold six-party talks as not amounting to much. Later in the morning program, reporter Caitlin Shetterly profiled Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford about his novel "Lay of the Land," set around the Thanksgiving holiday in the year 2000. The novel was "acutely political," she said, based on the "inflammatory politics" of the 2000 election aftermath. Ford explained his take:

"Being that it’s the end of the millennium, and it’s this terrible interregnum period when the whole country basically came to a halt. And um we didn’t know who our president was going to be when we had every right to expect to know, and had every right to expect that the person who got the most votes would win, and we didn’t have any right to expect the Republicans would steal the election in Florida, I thought it was an apt moment to write a political book. And it’s meant to be an indictment of Bush, and an indictment of the Republicans, and an indictment to somewhat lesser extent , lesser stinging extent to, the Democrats, too."

Shetterly added that Ford's protagonist gets in a strangling bar brawl with a man who insists it's Democrats who are trying to steal the election. Ford changed the subject in the NPR interview by suggesting his main character's violent anger is coming out of being diagnosed with cancer.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis