NPR Host, NYT Reporter Go Label-CRAZY on 'Far Right,' 'Hard Right' Republican Congress

August 10th, 2023 6:53 AM

Terry Gross, host of the National Public Radio talk show Fresh Air, conducted two separate interviews on succeeding days with Annie Karni, a former White House correspondent for the New York Times who is now congressional correspondent for the paper, a discussion dominated by fears of the "hard right" “far right” Congress. The loaded ideological labeling that emanated from both host and guest on the August 2 edition got absolutely ludicrous.

In all, the roughly 7,000-word interview contained 16 uses of the term “far-right” (12 by host Gross and 4 by guest Karni), 20 instances of “hard right” (6 by Gross, 14 by Karni) and 3 uses of “extreme” (1 by Gross, 2 by Karni). Plain old “conservative” barely registered, with two mentions by Karni.

Terry Gross: ….We had planned an interview about how extreme and disruptive the far-right members of the House of Representatives have become. I recorded that interview with New York Times congressional correspondent Annie Karni yesterday morning. Later in the day, special counsel Jack Smith indicted former President Donald Trump on three counts of conspiracy….She came back to the studio this morning to discuss the new charges against Trump.

Gross packed in as many “far right” references as she could, with Karni preferring the term "hard right," so that they ran neck and neck in the labeling bias sweepstakes.

Gross: ….Let's get to the interview I recorded with her yesterday about the far right in Congress. Congress is out on recess and won't return until mid-September. It will have only until October 1 to avert a government shutdown. Eleven more spending bills would first have to pass, but the far-right wing of the House has added amendments to spending bills, including measures that would further restrict abortion and transgender medical care….Annie Karni has written about how the hard right in the House has been expanding and fracturing as its members struggle to figure out how to exert their power and how they're also divided over how disruptive they want to be. She's covered the recent fights among Republicans in the House, as well as fights between House Democrats and Republicans. Annie Karni, welcome to FRESH AIR. So the hard-right faction in the House keeps moving further to the right….

Gross laid out the items in the defense bill, including ending a policy that guaranteed abortion access to members of the military and to stop gender transition surgery. Karni considered the Republican plans distasteful and threw in her own labeling.

Karni: Yes, it's pretty hard right. And it's a questionable strategy when a lot of these Republicans who ended up supporting it ran in elections where abortion was on the ballot, and it hurt them significantly. One way that they got around this was arguing that this wasn't a bill about abortion. It was about taxpayers paying for travel for military members for elective procedures. So they tried to say it was just about taxpayers paying for the travel and that it wasn't another anti-abortion vote.

But a lot of Republicans from moderate districts are very concerned that it looks like the party is just being very cruel to women voters and doubling down, tripling down, after the overturning of Roe v. Wade on abortion specifically.

The labeling slant became sufficiently repetitive to become amusing:

Gross: ….We're talking about the far-right wing of the House of Representatives and how they're preventing Speaker Kevin McCarthy from controlling his conference and how the far right might force a government shutdown starting in October. So now we have two far-right groups within the House….

This label-happy, anti-conservative show was brought to you in part by the travel expense management company SAP Concur.