Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School & Open Thread

To save time and sanity, I'm going to aim for a weekly (instead of daily) update of this blog. I'll probably work on it over the weekends. Here's where readers/listeners come in handy. If you hear a particularly outrageous piece on NPR News, cite it in the "Open Thread" section. Then I'll spend time on the weekend posting a summary of "greatest hits."

We'll see how this goes...should be interesting.


Help! Yesterday I woke up and it was 1957 again! Instead of young enlisted persons being killed in a foreign land to save a weaselly President's (and a pathetic Congress') botched war, I heard about "noble" sacrifice and patriotic fervor for heroic deeds.

Instead of biting and serious comics such as Get Your War On, or those by Aaron McGruder, Lynda Barry, Ted Rall, or Tom Tomorrow or I got a 10 year send up of "Sluggy"!

Gosh, all I missed was a few cigarette commercials, a car ad, and a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oops, Wrong Colonel!

Scott Simon might have well as talked to Col. Sanders instead of NPR favorite, Col. Gary Anderson. Anderson is on to talk about all the security progress that the US "surge" has achieved in Iraq and how a withdrawal will ruin it.

This continuing fraud of progress is breathtaking. If you didn't catch Nir Rosen on Democracy Now! this week, it is well worth watching (and very sad) - like Patrick Cockburn of the Independent, Rosen actually spends a lot of time outside the Green Zone (literally and figuratively).

If you follow developments at I-Casualities, or read Juan Cole's Informed Comment, you can't but be furious at NPR's absolute whitewash of the nightmare that the US war criminals have made of Iraq. They should be asking every day when the architects of this mess will be held accountable. That would take some integrity - something utterly lacking in the leadership at NPR News.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How I Learned to Stop Reporting and Love the Bomb

Eric Westervelt does Strangelove this morning on NPR. Given that fear-mongering, cherry-picking, lies, and half-truths helped launch the disaster of the Iraq War, you'd think NPR might not buy into a new round of the same to help launch the sequel in Iran. No chance. Like Fox News, NPR is selling an attack on Iran. Click on the "Iran" label below to see other posts on NPR's shameful track record.

In case you don't know that you are supposed to be in panic mode about evil Iran, Montagne sets the stage: "nowhere is the alarm and concern about Iran's nuclear program and growing regional clout more acute than Israel. On several occasions Iran's president has called for Israel to be eliminated."

This junk about "eliminating Israel" is fear-mongering simplification- and NPR turns to it again and again. Take a look at Ahmadinejad's most inflammatory rhetoric on the ADL site. Is he extreme and undiplomatic? I think so. Is he narrow-minded and wrong about the Holocaust? I think so. But does he call for the elimination of Israel, wiping Israel off the map, or attacking Israel?...hardly. He obviously hates the ideology of Zionism and wants it to end. Nothing terribly surprising about that. Hating Zionism, like hating communism, capitalism or imperialism may be contentious, but it is a legitimate position to hold. People can hotly denounce (or defend) Zionism without being genocidal.

In the report Westervelt turns to an Israeli hair salon operator (!) for over a minute of "analysis." This Tel Aviv resident says, "Iran is different because they [are] fanatics; they think that the Muslims have to rule all the world. It's a bit crazy."

As in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, fear mongering would be weak without the threat of the mushroom cloud. Westervelt tells us, "Israeli military intelligence estimates, that if left unchecked, Iran will master the nuclear fuel cycle and begin producing nuclear weapons in as few as three years." He mentions that "the American estimate is...6 to 8 years."

Westervelt fully accepts the position that Iran is a major threat and weighs in on strong sanctions by noting, "but will strong sanctions prove painful enough to get Tehran to back down?"

So what should the US do? Westervelt brings up Israel's earlier airstrikes against a perceived threat: "In 1981 Israel successfully launched a preemptive airstrike on Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak south of Baghdad - dealing a major blow to Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions." Really, if there were any accountability, Westervelt would get fired for just this kind of stupid journalism. Successful? By what standards? Many experts and people involved in that situation argue that the Osirak attack spurred Iraq's nuclear programs.

The report ends with the briefest mention that some in Israel are calling for dialogue with Iran, but that is quickly dismissed by an unnamed Israeli diplomat who, according to Westervelt, said "There is nothing to talk about."

Open Thread

NPR News comments welcomed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Guy Raz: Garbage Hauler

It's now old news that the Petraeus-Crocker report in September will be nothing but a Betray Us White House Crock o'Bull. It's also clear that the pro-surge Op-ed written by Ol' Hard Power O'Hanlon was a Pentagon arranged fraud.

So who could possibly put a positive shine on these developments? Have no fear, Guy will save the day. On ATC yesterday Guy Raz puts in quite a performance on selling this junk to the public. Raz describes the discredited, pro-war O'Hanlon as "a military expert at the center-left Brookings Institution...often described as a moderate Democrat." Center-left? Moderate? [Yeah and moderate Democrat Joe Lieberman is a left-of-center New Englander too!]

Raz notes that in an email promoting Pollack and O'Hanlon's Op-ed the White House called them "left-wing critics of the war" and he says this is "not entirely accurate, both men supported the invasion and the recent troop surge." "Not entirely accurate" is pure spin, a manipulative way of not saying that it WAS A COMPLETE LIE.

Raz also presents a recent Gallup/USA Today poll which shows the slightest increase in Americans' positive opinions regarding the surge (up to 31% from 22% last month). Raz distorts this by claiming "polls suggest a growing number of Americans are willing to see the troop surge extend through next April, and this is precisely what General Petraeus will be asking for..." If you look at the poll there is NOTHING about extending the surge to April, but it does state that "Sixty-six percent of Americans say they favor removing all U.S. troops from Iraq by April of next year."

It's stunning that the White House and the Pentagon are going to pass off such a fraud once again on the American people, but it fits with their previous behavior. But that a "public" news service is complicit in passing this off is inexcusable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Go Ahead, Ask and Challenge

This morning featured one of those stories where NPR covers a subject that is very critical of the Bush administration, but then undercuts it significantly by the way it is presented. NPR is covering the release of the Terrorism Index, the third semi-annual survey of foreign policy experts produced by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy. It's not a particularly courageous thing for NPR to do, after all as the creators of the survey note "Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—including more than half in the Executive Branch, 32 percent in the military, and 21 percent in the intelligence community." This is squarely a within-the-establishment critique.

Mary Louise Kelly notes some of the stunning results of the survey: "84% believe the US is not winning the war on terror" and "91% believe the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans." She also points out that "even among the experts who identify themselves as conservative, nearly two thirds say the surge is either having no impact or making things worse." As she says, "That could be read as a pretty stinging indictment of Bush administration policy."

Pretty good so far, but wait...Kelly turns over a significant portion of the report to Aaron Friedberg, who as Kelly tells us, "spent two years as deputy national security adviser to Vice President Cheney." Friedberg says the survey is "not a ringing endorsement...but you always have to ask, 'What would be better and where would we be if we were pursuing policies very much different than those that we have been?' It's possible we would be better off in certain respects, we'd likely be worse off in others..." there a reporter in the house?

I think Mr. Friedberg just tossed one smack-dab over the plate, and Kelly doesn' even take a swing. I mean seriously, the guy just invited the question...come on. Wouldn't it be great if she asked Friedberg, "So do tell me where would we possibly be that's worse if we had not invaded Iraq, set up Guantanamo, tortured detainees, tried to overthrow Hamas, bungled Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc?" Instead Friedberg's challenge is just allowed to hang there and cast doubt on the whole coverage of the survey that has preceded it. Boy if I were a lying, greedy, sniveling, manipulator working for the Bush administration, I'd just love to get some talk time in with the NPR news team - talk about a cakewalk.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments are welcomed.

Noriega Notes

In the comments section of "Snorting History" below, John Dinges, author of Our Man in Panama, kindly offers his take on NPR's most recent coverage of Noriega and a few correctives to my post, too.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Word of the Day Is?

Progress! As in progress in Iraq. This morning I was struck by Liane Hansen's interview with Democratic Sen. Bob Casey about his short trip to Iraq. In asking about troops he met with, Hansen asks, "they gave you no idea about whether or not they thought PROGRESS was being made?" And then later in questioning him about his meetings with US leaders in Iraq she says, "When you sat down and had dinner with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker what picture did they paint for you of the PROGRESS being made in Iraq?"

That is pretty amazing! What freaking progress? The Iraq project has been a criminal enterprise from the get-go and is an unmitigated disaster from any perspective (humanitarian, political, fiscal, military, strategic). An interesting little exercise is to search NPR's site for "progress in Iraq" and you get 160 hits whereas if you search for "lack of progress in Iraq" you get...4 hits!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Snorting History

Scott Simon puts history in the blender (again) this morning when he interviews Richard Koster about Manuel Noriega, former US-sponsored dictator of Panama. Simon opens the report with the following: " a 1989 military invasion ordered after General Noriega violently suppressed political opposition in his country and because of his ties to international drug interests, but until just three years before that Manuel Noriega had reportedly been an informant for the CIA."
Here's just a few problems with this misinformation:
  • "...reportedly been an informant for the CIA." Wrong. Noriega was definitely on the CIA payroll for many years, the only "reportedly" is how much he received (perhaps $100,000 a year).
  • "after...violently suppressed political opposition" - Completely ignores the US support for the dictator and US satisfaction with years of repression in Panama.
  • "because of his ties to international drug interests" - ignores the US involvement in the Contra Drug trade and complicity with Noriega's drug dealing.
Simon ignores the most obvious reasons for the invasion. The US had lost control of a dictator who was not willing to allow Panama to be used for illegal war against Nicaragua.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Open Thread

Got a comment on NPR News? Post it here.

Liberating a Million

I'm still waiting for NPR to report on the thousands killed in Darfur - instead of 200,000 - since NPR insists on reducing the number of Iraqi civilians killed by a huge factor. Tonight Siegel introduces John Burnett's Reporter's Notebook segment by stating that since the invasion "more than three thousand seven hundred US troops and at least tens of thousands of Iraqis have died in the war." (Tens of thousands? Here's a little news flash for you Mr. Siegel: it's more like a million).

It was a bizarre report in which Burnett contrasts the immediate post invasion Iraq to today's Made in the USA apocalypse. Back in 2003 Burnett tells us that "in 'liberated' Baghdad, optimism seemed infectious." That Burnett thinks the US ever "liberated" Iraq explains a lot of NPR's coverage of the war. The piece then goes on to feature the longest serving DOD civilian employee who likes to chill by a wading pool with a book in the Green Zone and pretend she's at the beach - pretty scary. Her choice comment was "it's been a life changing experience for me and it's one that I would not trade for anything in the world - nothing..."

Neighbors Talking to Neighbors

Siegel talks to David Brooks, a columnist at The New York Times, and Ruth Marcus, a columnist and editorial board member at The Washington Post. They get around to Karl Rove's resignation:

Brooks: "He's a relentlessly cheerful figure. He's incredibly well for his public getting Republicans to win he was a master, and he did it by getting neighbors talking to neighbors and that is how you win voters....on substance I actually think he had quite a lot of the right ideas. He tried to make the Republicans the reform party..."

Marcus: "I was struck as I listened to him [Rove] much he, 'the Architect' has actually teed up a foundation at least for the fall..."

No comment needed.

Stopping Short

This morning NPR News covers the Padilla conviction. The story does note that Padilla was held for "over three years, incommunicado and without access to a lawyer." But "torture" never comes up - what else can you call the Soviet style treatment that was documented by Padilla's lawyers and never disputed by the judge in the case.

The most shameful aspect of this morning's report is the way NPR's FBI correspondent, Temple-Raston, frames the whole "dirty bomb" sham that the Bush Administration used to seize and torture Padilla in the first place. Here's what Temple-Raston says:
"...prosecutors in Miami stopped short of charging Padilla with the allegations he may be most famous identified with - that he met with Osama Bin Laden and was dispatched to the US to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb. Instead prosecutors built a case around a terrorism conspiracy..."
Read that carefully. She is asserting that there is substance to the "dirty bomb" charges. It's just that prosecutors "stopped short of charging Padilla" with the dirty bomb plot and "instead" built a different case. This is complete spin. The "dirty bomb" allegations were groundless, and in fact were obtained by - guess what? - torture (the word that must not be spoken). Toward the end of the report Temple-Raston does mention that "the allegations of planning a dirty bomb attack couldn't be substantiated," but notice how weak and open ended that is compared to her initial statements.

I don't expect NPR to denounce the jury's verdict, no matter how scandalously rushed their deliberations were. It was a lawful (albeit red, white and blue) jury - but the cavalier attitude to such gross government behavior is really shameful.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Open Thread

Comments related to NPR? Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gunning for Iran

Bill Kristol isn't the only sick puppy; NPR News has dropped any pretense of reporting on Iran (not a particularly new development) and is simply parroting US State Department and Pentagon views of the situation. Consider this evening. The US is apparently planning to designate the Revolutionary Guard of Iraq a "foreign terrorist organization," news that has significant implications for the likelihood of a US attack on Iran. How does NPR News deal with this on ATC? Take a look.

First Jackie Northam reports on the story by talking to State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack. She opens, "For months the US has been trying to confront what it sees as increasingly dangerous Iranian behavior in a variety of ways...State Department spokesman Sean McCormack calls the powerful Revolutionary Guard 'a state within a state.'" (McCormak's voiceover comes in) "They now have tentacles into all sorts of different activities...we all know about their support for those groups that are going after our troops in Iraq...linkages with Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations... "

Then, to provide alternative views (sarcasm alert) on this issue NPR sends Rob Siegel to talk to Philip Zelikow who was a senior adviser to - guess who? - Sec. of State Rice! Zelikow is back to playing a professor of history at the University of Virginia, but still has time to work for his former boss. Speaking of the Revolutionary Guard he says, "...actually it's a large military industrial complex inside Iran - kind of like the SS in the latter part of Hitler's Germany..."

Zounds! like the SS in Hitler's Germany....what are we waiting for? Let's get those planes in the air. Reminds me of Dalia Sofer's recent comments comparing Iran to Mussolini's anti-Semitic government. And what do you know, ATC features a review of Sofer's first novel which helps stoke the hatred of Iran for its dismal human rights records - now that is the icing on the cake.
Get your war on. See you in Tehran!

[the original graphic is from the Northwestern University Library collection]

Practical Considerations

Someone could do a blog just on the inane five-minute hourly news summaries that NPR puts out hour after hour. This morning I had to hear Martin Koste reporting on arguments being heard today in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The two cases deal with illegal electronic surveillance. Given the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy and subversion of Constitutional checks and balances you might assume that these two cases are extremely important - with what's left of our civil liberties hanging in the balance. Not so in Koste's report. He turns to Orin Kerr, who seems smart enough as far as knowing the intricacies of computer law, but who seems gullible as Gomer Pyle when it comes to trusting Uncle Sam.

Noting that the administration wants the lawsuits thrown out Koste states, "Orin Kerr a George Washington University Law Professor specializing in national security says the government's argument is based on practical considerations -[Kerr's voiceover comes in] 'It's really hard to have the courts figure these things out in open court when we're dealing with national security secrets.'"

What really ticks me off is not that NPR quotes Kerr. But to feature him only and his extremely subjective comments is ridiculous. So it's just national security secrets and practical considerations? A balanced report would have talked to someone like Jennifer Granick who wrote the Wired piece linked above or Jack Balkin who wrote this post on the latest FISA sellout in Congress.

Expanding Pakistan

I have to concur with readers of this blog that NPR News does a service to listeners by regularly featuring Philip Reeves' reports from Pakistan. NPR deserves further credit for its interview this morning with Moshin Hamid and Kamila Shamsie, two Pakistani novelists. They really take apart the one dimensional views of Pakistan that most US citizens are presented with in the press (views that can lead someone like Sen. Obama to assume that Pakistan is ours for the bombing).

Now if NPR could just extend this kind of layered reporting to the rest of the world. One is allowed to wish, eh?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A PBS Aside

A reader of this blog sent me an email noting that Robert Satloff was on PBS News Hour tonight. Since I limit this blog to NPR news issues, I was going to let the information pass, but then I thought the name Satloff was familiar. Indeed, Satloff has been on NPR frequently. He is now a Holocaust Industry hack seeking to extend the blame of the Western-led Holocaust onto the Arabs as he looks for a few "righteous" Arabs to hold up as exceptions to the rule. As he says, "...denial of the Holocaust in many parts of the Arab world is the tip of the iceberg of what divides Arab societies from Western societies." I don't deny that anti-Semitism is a problem in many Arabic countries, but you can't help but be struck by the fact that this bigotry is mainly a post-1948 phenomenon in the Arab world.

One of the most revolting things about Satloff is the organization he once headed and is closely tied to, the pro-violence, militantly pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). If you think Satloff is cozy with NPR News, just look how embedded WINEP is in NPR's coverage. Try to find any credible or progressive institution consulted as much on NPR News; you will search in vain.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments are always appreciated.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's a Guy Thing

This morning Guy Raz gives us a peak into his soft-porn obsession with military aircraft. He begins by bragging "so in the past few weeks alone, I've ridden in an Army Black Hawk helicopter in Kuwait...hovered over Paris in a twin-rotor [sic] Marine CH-53 helicopter...flown around the world on the E-4B which is basically the most secretive and classified 747 in the world...been over Afghanistan in a Chinook helicopter...but nothing I've seen, no aircraft can quite compare to the F-22...there is nothing quite like it on earth; it looks like something out of the future....

The F-22 has caught his fancy: "...the plane is called The Raptor and there are only about 70 of them in existence, most of them at Langley...there are only 100 F-22 pilots in the world. The Air Force likes to call the plane America's insurance policy...sometimes I dream of going up in an F-22, but alas, I never will, there's only room for the pilot."

America's insurance policy! That's rich.

Given the utter non-coverage of the current escalating death-from-the-air being waged in Iraq, and the slaughter that the USAF has unleashed in places a widespread as Panama, Cambodia, Iraq (in 1991), and Afghanistan there is something positively necrophilic about Raz's panting aircraft fantasy.

Raz opens his report by describing the little windowless room that NPR has deep inside the Pentagon. He says, "It's NPR's Pentagon office and working in that windowless room under the hum of fluorescent lighting can be soul destroying..." I hate to break it to him, but it's going to be hard to destroy something that he's already sold.

Featuring Juan Williams

Today's Weekend Edition Saturday has Williams giving his analysis of the week's news. Get a load of this:

On the talks in Iran between al-Maliki and Ahmadinejad:
  • "...what they're talking about is obviously the war in Iraq, and the possible, the continued presence of Iraqi, of Iranian arms flowing into Iraq--which is a great concern to the US because they're being used against US soldiers, but being used by Shiite militias--much more so than the Sunnis or al-Qaeda in Iraq..."
  • "What happens once the US the Shiia in both states now join hands, or do you have a continued sovereign Iraq on the map. This is a great concern of US policymakers...because if in fact what you're seeing is the Shiia coalition forming, it really is bad news for the idea of creating a stable, democratic government in Iraq, which was the US goal."
Regarding a recent report showing high rates of Black on Black crime:
  • "I think it's in large part due to this culture of gangster life and thug life that's become so accepted that acceptance of crime, acceptance of drug dealing, the no-snitch campaign, this kind of thing I think is just poisonous for young minds... "
And this is the "liberal" voice on Fox News. God help us!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lute Plays NPR Like a Fiddle

I'm sick to death of the load of crap being passed off by Bush and the US Military hierarchy. Today NPR interviews "War Czar" General Lute. Lute tells Michele Norris that there has been "demonstrable progress" on security in Iraq and the bemoans lack of political progress from the Iraqis. Just for once, wouldn't it be great if one of these talking heads of NPR challenged these BS-meisters from the Pentagon. Juan Cole has done some excellent work on debunking this murderous spin (see his article on and this entry on his blog). In their blog, the editors at Foreign Policy also take on this myth of progress. NPR wouldn't even have to rely on secondary analysis; they could take a look at Iraq Coalition Casualties and ponder the numbers and the articles on the sidebar. The picture is clear: there has been no progress for the US in Iraq.

Saint Billy

I'm sorry I just can't get my respect-o-meter up for a man who gave "Christian" counsel to a president about to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Iraqis or who glibly considered committing war crimes against Vietnamese. But NPR joins in the usual adulation of Billy Graham, offering nothing controversial or challenging. There was one telling anecdote from the interviewee, Michael Duffy, co-author of The Preacher and the Presidents. Duffy tells Norris, "
He really found politics a little seductive and he talks talks about it that way. He sometimes wondered whether the devil wasn't at work because he felt really pulled."
Nixon, the Reagans, the Bushes - what's to wonder?

Breakfast with Ted

Ted Koppel goes to the old Vietnam analogy well to talk about how the US failure in Iraq (politely called "withdrawal") will play out. Ted has this to say about withdrawal debates:
"...back to Vietnam. Those who want to say we can't get out precipitously point to the million or more people they say lost their lives in the bloodbath after the American withdrawal from Southeast Asia."
Koppel is being especially disingenuous. He just drops this twisted reasoning out there as if it made all the sense in the world and was a perfectly legitimate. In fact it has a few little problems:
  • Yes, there was a bloodbath in Cambodia after the US withdrew from Vietnam, BUT it was the continuation of a bloodbath in Cambodia begun by the US in 1969 with the pathologically named "Operation Breakfast."
  • It can be convincingly argued that the US massacre-bombing of Cambodia (1969-73) created conditions for the extremism and success of the Khmer Rouge.
  • Further complicating the picture was the US backing of the Khmer Rouge after the communist government of Vietnam overthrew it in 1979, a truly bizarre turn of events (John Pilger covers this in depth here).

Open Thread

NPR related comments are always appreciated. Fire away!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dos and Don'ts

Gosh, if only the US had invaded Iraq and sought to make it our permanent Power Rangers Lily Pad and Uber Oil Rig with more finesse and cultural sensitivity, then things would be hunky dory over in Mess O' Potamia. At least that's the word on ATC from Lt. Col. John Nagl one of NPR's counterinsurgency-genius darlings.

Nagl is on with Michele Norris to talk about Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II, a WWII era book updated and re-issued by the military advising soldiers how to behave in Iraq. The interview is nothing but a infomercial for the book (and by association for the new warm-fuzzy COIN in Iraq). Nagl was "instantly charmed" by the old book and Norris praises its "wonderful illustrations." Norris says, "I must say the writing of the book is economy of words...the language is very bright." Not to be outdone in pretension, Rhodes Scholar Nagl adds, "There's something almost J.D. Salingeresque about the writing..." Wow, put that on your garden and watch it grow!

(Original "wonderful illustration" is from the book and posted on NPR's site. Additional image from BAGnewsNotes)


I was out driving today - registering kids for school, running a few errands - and torturing myself by listening to Bush's press conference. What did I hear, but the familiar voice of David Greene asking W about accountability. In particular, Greene asked about Consiglieri Gonzales and why Bush hasn't held him accountable (not a bad question for an NPR reporter). The question got Bush's dander up; he replied, "....implicit in your question is that Al Gonzales did something wrong...this is a man who has testified, he sent thousands of papers up there. There's no proof of wrong, why would I hold somebody accountable who has done nothing wrong...."

Greene followed up, but didn't offer even a few "proofs of wrong" that Gonzales has done - but, hey, maybe he just assumed Bush would acknowledge the crime family he has surrounded himself with and that would be that. I could forgive Greene for being a bit slow-witted in the heat of the moment- going mano-a-mano with The Decider himself - but , good God, Greene (and the whole apparatus of NPR News for that matter) had the leisure of all afternoon to do a little basic fact checking before All Things Considered aired. Greene could have looked at Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, The New York Times, or The Boston Globe for a wee bit o' reality. But, alas, that would be tiresome, so instead Greene did his usual rehash of the press conference, offering a digested (regurgitated) summary of Bush's remarks with no digression into the world of research. No wonder Bush chummily remarked to Greene during the press conference, "I know you're a kind open-minded fellow." High praise indeed.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I've been in Florida visiting family for the last several days. Driving back last night, I was listening to ATC. Michele Norris talked to Walter Arabasz, director of seismograph stations for University of Utah. It was pretty informative and gave the lie to the anti-union mine owner, Murray, who insisted that his mine disaster was caused by "earthquakes." Arabasz made it clear that scientific evidence points toward a mine collapse having nothing to do with seismic activity. NPR gave Murray plenty of airtime to give his obviously self-interested point of view.

So this morning I about choked to hear the headlines state that continuing seismic activity caused more collapsing in the mine. The follow-up story featured, guess who, mine owner, Murray again giving his completely unscientific assertion that earthquakes caused the secondary collapse. It was mentioned that "some seismologists" think the collapse caused seismic readings, but the thrust of the piece and all the airtime was aimed at reinforcing the mine owners assertions.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

How to Pitch a War with Iran (with a backstop)

Dang! Guy Raz is batting a thousand when it comes to bad reporting. He's often trotting along with the President, or some other military or government bigwigs - and he is a loyal transcriber. Yesterday and today he's tramping about with Rice and Gates in the Saudi Arabia as they make nice with "moderate" princes and kings of the Gulf States and Jordan and Egypt's US-funded thug-for-life, Hosni Mubarak.

Who does Guy talk to for insight and critical analysis of this gas-on-the fire trip? To "officials traveling with Secretary Gates" and "former Defense Department liaison to the Saudis, Peter Rodman" (what a surprise). From these "officials" we learn that "the Gulf Arab states and Egypt and Jordan have two regional fears: one of a US withdrawal from Iraq and two, an ascendant Iran." Now that is some newsflash! From Rodman we get this gem:
"These countries have many options, they can just submit to Iranian domination or they can pursue a nuclear weapon program of their own which they may be flirting with or attempting to. The far preferable course for them is to have confidence in the Americans to be their backstop..."
The ramp-up for war with Iran pervades NPR coverage. Yesterday also featured a book recommendation from novelist Dalia Sofer who equates post-1979 Iran with Mussolini's fascist Italy, including it's anti-Semitic laws (I wonder what Iran's Jews would think of that?) Try to imagine for a moment if NPR would dare air a Palestinian author who equated the Israeli government with Mussolini's Italy- I think not. After all, it took them months to air former Pres. Jimmy Carter when he dared make the obvious comparison of Israeli occupation to apartheid.

Also I noticed during the news headlines that Flintoff reported on the deaths of three US soldiers and quoted "military officials" asserting that the soldiers were killed by an Iranian-supplied explosively formed penetrator (as usual, not a bit of proof is offered).