National Public Radio’s brand is soothing and civil news and interviews. That certainly didn’t fit when Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was interviewed Thursday on All Things Considered after the gun-control measures were rejected in the Senate.
Anchor Melissa Block read back to Malloy his comments that gun makers don’t care if mentally deranged people buy their guns. He not only doubled down on that, calling the NRA a “monster,” but when asked what it will take to pass gun control, he suggested Sen. Chuck Grassley might need a mass-shooting in Iowa, or one in Alabama or Mississippi. Civility went out the window on the evening commute.
On Thursday's All Things Considered, NPR's Ari Shapiro couldn't be bothered to feature any of the religious leaders who spoke at the inter-faith service in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Instead, Shapiro zeroed in on the liberal politicians who spoke, playing five straight clips from President Obama's speech at the memorial event.
The correspondent also played up the President's speaking ability: "This was Obama the orator, a man who is famous for his ability to give a speech that, even in a time of mourning, can bring a crowd roaring to its feet."
Our taxpayer dollars seem to be at work finding the culprit of the Boston terror attack last Monday. But on taxpayer-funded NPR, counterterrorism reporter Dina Temple-Raston was already guessing this was domestic not foreign. “The thinking, as we've been reporting, is that this is a domestic or extremist attack,” Temple-Raston declared on the April 16 All Things Considered.
So, besides the pressure cooker bomb, whose directions on building it can be found on the Internet, what evidence shows that this is probably domestic terrorism? Where’s the manifesto? Who’s claimed responsibility? All are question marks at this point, so what’s with the incessant speculation by some in the media. Yes, it could be a crazy right-winger, or an al-Qaeda operative, but what ever happened to a simple narrative of there was a bombing, it’s awful, people died, and federal authorities are investigating the matter? But Temple-Raston heavily implied this matches with past acts of right wing – and domestic – terror:
Last Friday, in his first post-election remarks on PBS and NPR, New York Times columnist David Brooks downplayed his usual bash- conservatives narrative, and actually castigated liberals for wanting to go over the looming fiscal cliff. He said that liberals are more organized, they’ve won the election, and will get most of what they yearn for if we do go over the waterfall: increased revenue, tax hikes, and cuts to defense spending.
Strangely, his liberal colleagues, Mark Shields on PBS and E.J. Dionne on NPR, seemed to agree with this claim – undercutting the notion that this "cliff" is dangerous to both parties.
Scott Horsley's report on Wednesday's All Things Considered could have mistaken for a three-and-half minute ad from a pro-Obama super PAC. Horsley played up how "Mr. Obama often tempers his speeches with a dose of modesty about what government can and can't do" and how the President "pushes back strongly against the anti-government rhetoric of his GOP opponents."
The NPR correspondent also sympathetically noted that "part of the President's challenge...is persuading Americans that the people government is taking care of really are our own." Horsley filled the segment with talking points from Obama's campaign and with soundbites from the Democrat and his campaign, and failed to include any from his opponents.
Something shocking happened on Friday night on NPR's All Things Considered. "Conservative" pundit David Brooks took the anti-Washington Post position on the Mitt Romney high-school "scoop." Obviously, Post columnist E.J. Dionne stuck with his paper and his liberal guns, insisting more and more stories just like this are going to come out, whether that's a threat or a promise.
Anchor Melissa Block would not use the word "alleged" to describe the Post story which "details incidents of bullying by Romney when he was a senior at the tony Cranbrook boys prep school in Michigan. Five former classmates spoke about an incident when Romney led a posse that targeted a student with long bleached-blond hair, tackled him, pinned him to the ground and hacked off his hair as he cried and screamed for help." Brooks cried it was illegitimate "gotcha" journalism:
On Thursday’s All Things Considered, National Public Radio offered leftist Sister Simone Campbell a megaphone to disagree with (and lecture) the Pope and the Catholic bishops for being clueless. “It was like a sock in the stomach,” she said about the Vatican’s attempt to hold women’s Catholic religious orders to Catholic orthodoxy. Just on human terms, this is odd – not just to suggest the bishops are bullying, but that a process that’s been going on for four years is suddenly shocking.
Campbell told anchor Melissa Block that the religious sisters had the superiority of “experience” of faith all over the Vatican and the bishops, and then was starkly sexist: “Women get it first and then try to explain it to the guys who -- I mean, as the women did to the Apostles.”
In 2008, NPR's All Things Considered tried to take apart the "swift-booking" of Barack Obama by conservative author Jerome Corsi, insisting in several places "we know" Corsi's reporting wasn't factual. On Friday's All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik took a looser standard in publicizing the Palin-bashing book by liberal author Joe McGinniss. Folkenflik eventually found book experts who disdained the difference between a "warts and all" book and an "all warts" book. But none of the book's claims were held up individually as false. It just on the whole "felt unreliable."
This leads the listener to wonder what might be true: Palin's cocaine-snorting, the premarital sex with NBA stars, the neglect of her children? Which? Folkenflik brings up McGinniss's tawdry publicity stunt, renting right next to the Palin home in Wasilla, running some mini-soundbites of outrage from conservative talkers like Sean Hannity ("creepy") and Bill O'Reilly ("immoral"). But Folkenflik tweeted Friday "How rascally is the writer behind 'The Rogue'?" All in all, the stunt was a plus:
NPR's Scott Horsley apparently couldn't find any conservatives for his report on Thursday's All Things Considered, as he played nothing but sound bites from President Obama and former economic advisor Jared Bernstein. The two boosted a possible mini-stimulus, including "help for public works projects." Horsley played four clips from the President and two from Bernstein during the segment.
Openly lesbian NPR arts reporter Neda Ulaby was given the assignment of making light news out of the gay-activism petition to get the Muppet characters Ernie and Bert married on "Sesame Street" on Friday night's All Things Considered. Her only sources for comment were a lesbian comedian and a liberal Time magazine TV critic.
She did not interview the petition's author Lair Scott, who proclaimed: “I started this Change.org petition because I believe we need more media representation of gay and lesbian people in children’s programming,” said Scott. “There are currently no LGBT characters on Sesame Street, nor in any children’s television program.”
NPR's Ari Shapiro leaned towards supporters of the Obama administration's new "voluntary principles" to limit junk food ads to kids on Thursday's All Things Considered. Shapiro played three sound bites from backers, versus only one from a critic who blasted the proposal: "If the federal government decided to issue voluntary guidelines about what newsmen should say to avoid inflaming the public, I think you guys would be pretty upset."
Host Melissa Block did acknowledge opponents' concerns about the proposed guidelines in her introduction for the correspondent's report: "The Obama administration wants to limit the amount of advertising kids see for junk food. It's part of a broader push to improve child nutrition, and, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, it's part of what critics see as a growing nanny state."
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."
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."
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.
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.
Mass murder in real concentration camps in the Soviet Union are ancient history to National Public Radio, but the cause of poor, blacklisted communists in Hollywood charging America was a concentration camp is still a fresh and poignant soundbite. On the June 17 edition of All Things Considered, anchor Melissa Block championed a forthcoming new documentary about communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, made by Peter Askin and Trumbo’s son Christopher and featuring big celebrities like Michael Douglas. Block made no mention of Trumbo’s actual Communist Party membership in the age of Stalin, and nowhere in the interview was there even a whisper of an alternative historical point of view, from Ronald Radosh to Kenneth Billingsley.
Block could only lament once again this alleged persecution of communists, once again utterly free of the irony that communists specialized in persecution everywhere they came to power:
Did Hillary’s misty talk of how much she loved America and wanted to reverse the Bush administration help her win in New Hampshire? NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday night went looking for women voters who were moved. Co-anchor Melissa Block interviewed three Hillary voters in Manchester: "Do you think that the polls underestimated women here?" One said: "I think they really, really did.