Saturday, December 06, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

28 comments:

RepubLiecan said...

Continuing to comment on the Q Tips from Friday. The last few weeks of listening to Steve Inskeep, I've frequently thought, NPR ditched Bob Edwards for this guy? I'm sure their corporate sponsors are happy anyway, not to mention Inskeep and Montagne.

Every time I hear an NPR stenographer referred to as an analyst, I cringe at the misuse of that word, then laugh at the absurdity of the description.

Mary Jane said...

I've given up listening to the morning shows for news. Instead I look at them like "Mystery Science Theater" - great for making snarky comments and observations. While it's great entertainment this way, and easier on the blood pressure, it's a shame if you actually want to hear good news reporting. At least the weekday hosts don't have the hearty fake joviality of the weekend hosts.

Porter Melmoth said...

My thoughts on the eviction of Bob Edwards from NPR:

The excuse for Kevin Klose & Kompany to set a fire under Bob's chair was: sheer 'demographics'. That is, with an aging baby boomer audience, the corporate controllers looked to the future. Bob was sounding too 'old', he didn't speak fast enough, and there was the trace of the, well, uh, 'old hippy' about him. Demographics dictated that NPR better go after the younger audience. You know, those consumer-oriented, entertainment/techie/plugged-in types, who want just a bit of the 'issues' stuff mixed with pleasant and darn interesting features. Voila, you have the mish-mash of Morn Ed and All Thingies Considered we have today. Ratings are increasing. Money flows. Sorry, Bob.

You can imagine some shadowy Klose critter saying, 'Bob, you've had a great run. Your loyal fans love you. You've created a community, even though it's pretty...well, small. Thing is, your fans are dying off. We've got a whole new generation coming up. We've gotta serve 'em. And in greater numbers. Now GO.'

Well, that's how it often works in the everyday radio field. With every corporate takeover in commercial radio, the house is always cleaned, and salaries for the replacements go down. They don't even make any excuses. If you're out, you're OUT, baby, OUT! (Members of my family have worked in radio for over 40 years.) Indeed, NPR was formerly pretty immune from this purging cycle, because their ratings were always laughable, and so was the pay. Ever since they got 'discovered' by the Neocon/corporate combine (to use a generic term), NPR has proven to be hot stuff in reaching the educated middle classes, who may appear rather liberal in many senses, but are actually pretty conservative when it comes to investment and security issues. This audience is thus ripe for 'persuasion' of a more sophisticated kind, rather than knee-jerk Fox-ism. Nevertheless, NPR has been trying a blend of these two schools, as we have seen. Fox has definitely benefitted from having 'suave' Juan The Yawn Williams and 'smart 'n savvy' Mara Liarsson. (Fox makes sure you liberal NPR listeners know that they hire black folks and women!) Juan & Mara bring ersatz intellectualism to Fox, while they simultaneously foul what's left of NPR with Foxy trash. The overlapping has been a success. One hand washes the other.

The agenda under this 'demographics' excuse to bump Bob was of course, political. Rupert Murdoch has demonstrated very ably that controlling media outlet(s) is the most effective way of influencing the masses. More than a corrupt senator, more that a costly lobbyist, mass public opinion is still the most valuable asset for the aspiring fascist. Eager 'believers' such as Inskreep, Mundane and the dozens of others make the show biz end of things work, but they are mere parrots for the big boys.

And Bob Edwards? They probably didn't threaten his life or anything (well, maybe...), but contractually, he was no doubt over a barrel. Hopefully some day we can get the gruesome truth from him. His story will be typical of those who were, shall we say, repressed under the Bush Dark Age.

Bob might eventually be consoled by the fact that Inskreep 'n Mundane may not enjoy the longevity that buoyed Edwards for so long. Pretty soon they themselves will be too 'old'-sounding, and they won't be hip enough. When I hear them, I get the feeling that they're pedaling as fast as they can. Thus their vacuous style, but there's a hint of desperation there. They are utterly replaceable, so they pour on the ditzy goop. To listeners who care, they are scarcely worthy of being the presenters - the 'guardians', as it were - of the morning news. Those who replace them will undoubtedly be even more empty, fluffy and worthless.

My own personal bottom line: as their success has increased, NPR has become increasingly irrelevant. I don't even get mad at the radio any more. Bitter, yes (I guess that makes me a member of 'Bittergate'!), but it's all part of truly writing NPR off as an information source.

Porter Melmoth said...

Just found this on C&L, about bloggers 'getting nervous' about Obama:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97920808

JP said...

On *The World*, there was a discussion of the "masterminds" of 9/11 confessing. Never was the fact that they were tortured and the vexing role this plays in ascertaining guilt mentioned.

JP said...

Suggestion for morning news:

Turn on the BBC or CBC. You can listen to Channel 4 or BBC World News. Both are excellent.

Though, if you're in the car, pray for the internets to hurry up and get in our cars.

Porter Melmoth said...

Oh yes, there are alternatives, as we've mentioned frequently here.

Democracy Now!'s an exceptional light in the wilderness.

Diogenes44 said...

I think this blog makes a bad blunder that damages its credibility by assuming that the nonsense we often hear on NPR arises from bias by reporters.

I have lots of criticism of NPR. But there's an expression that holds "never attribute to bias that which can be explained by stupidity." Or laziness, and I think it makes more sense to explain NPR's many lapses and blunders by realizing that many of NPR's reporters are poorly educated, and/lazy, and/or uncurious, and in any case, always poorly edited.

It's easy to see what's going on. Look at how many words NPR reporters mispronounce; look at how often they fail to ask obvious questions, fail to seek a comment from "the other side", fail to understand the motivations of interviewees (e.g. Sen. Shelby, whose state is home to some auto plants--ununionized, of course); and so on.

I'll have more to say about this later on.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

D: I'm just a mere coattail-rider here but I believe we have cast a view from that angle - interesting nonetheless how NoPR's "cluelessness" can be translated or misconstrued as "bias."

Anonymous said...

I think this blog makes a bad blunder that damages its credibility by assuming that the nonsense we often hear on NPR arises from bias by reporters.

I have lots of criticism of NPR. But there's an expression that holds "never attribute to bias that which can be explained by stupidity." Or laziness,


Actually, I think the phrase normally uses the word "malice", not "bias", but even so, in this case it is really a combination if bias (masquerading as "balance") and stupidity.

It is a particular kind of stupidity.

Like so many other "journalists" today, the people who now work at NPR are "stupid" enough to have agreed to the (vacuous) idea that "balance" is what journalism is about.

Actually, when it comes to career moves, it is really not "stupid" at all. But it IS prostitution.

War On War Off said...

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

- Upton Sinclair

Kevan Smith said...

Three thoughts today.

First, in a feature piece ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97859276 ), Ketzel Levine comments on people "with moxie" struggling in the current economy with this encomium: "He will be among the lucky ones whose bowl, however empty, will always be half-full." Previously, the subject had commented that if it came down to it, he knew how to fish and to dress animals for the table. If that's what it's coming down to, then saying that moxie is a cause for optimism about food security seems really inappropriate. I mean, the Joads had moxie, too, right? And who would call their glass half full?

Second, Inskeep interviewed Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97750554 ). He kept asking loaded questions trying to elicit some sort of negative response about Thomson's boss, right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch. I guess he was trying to ask tough questions? He came off to me as smarmy and concerned more with style than substance. In fact, after listening, I'm not sure the story is even important enough to warrant air time.

Finally, NPR finally got around to interviewing torture victim Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian citizen whom the U.S. extradited to a cell in Syria he calls "The Grave." ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97980316 ) Though the torture is downplayed, and in fact euphemisticlly referred to mosly as "rendition," it's a good interview. But NPR is way late to the table on this. If you've been listening to Democracy Now! for the past year, you've heard far more and learned much more about Arar and his case. I seem to recall DN! devoting a whole hour to a conversation with Arar, where he pulled no punches pointing out who was responsible for his illegal incarceration and psychologically crippling torture: the U.S. government. My prediction: NPR lets this slide to the bottom of the news pile.

Anonymous said...

Finally, NPR finally got around to interviewing torture victim Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian citizen whom the U.S. extradited to a cell in Syria he calls "The Grave."

That is part of the pattern.

"A day late and a dollar short" may be frowned on in certain circles, but it is actually encouraged at NPR.

It serves the purpose of allowing one to claim "balance" (ie, "we covered that issue ["innocents on death row" ten years after the death row inmate was executed]".

It is basically a way for a "news program" to cover its ass.

NPR did the same thing with its Iraqi WMD "coverage."

And with its "coverage" of the "Downing Street Minutes" (intelligence being fixed around the policy).

NPR never sticks its neck out on anything. It merely parrots the prevalent viewpoint.

Pathetically, I think their announcers actually believe that they are giving us the "news".

Anonymous said...

"never attribute to bias that which can be explained by stupidity."
- No. "Bias" means a systematic pattern in favor of something over other things. Bias can be intentional, structural, or nondecided.
If the outcomes favor one political or ideological standpoint over others, it's still biased.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

On one of my blogs, The Well-Armed lamb, I keep a string of 'dichos,' one of which is: Never presume "ignorance" if, from the same evidence, one can deduce "malevolence."

As to NPR: The interview with Condi today was a-fucking-PPALLING! The only question I had was "WHY!" She spent the whole time excusing Bushevik crimes. One MUST have assumed that that is PRECISELY what she'd do. And no interviewer on NPR is tough enough to hold her chicken-legs to the fire. So why did they grant an interview to begin with?

Jesus!

Anonymous said...

So why did they grant an interview [for Conidi] to begin with?"

For the same reason Michell Norris granted an interview to disgraced former AG Alberto Gonzales immediately after the revelation of the illegal domestic spying program: to give them a megaphone with which to propagate their propaganda.

In a world (or even country) where news organizations were even the least bit interested in truth, people like Condi Rice and A Gonzales would be taken to the cleaners in an interview for all their transgressions.

But, of course, NPR has zero interest in truth. The organization's main purpose is to keep the money flowing to all its
"briiliant" announcers and execs. And biting the hand that feeds you si not a good way to do that.

In instead

Anonymous said...

notice hopw Rice is now greasing the skids for a possible future White House run.

"Rice Says Successor
Hillary Clinton Will 'Do Great'"

These Ivy league/Elitist school types are all the same deep down. They will suck up to anyone (even their worst enemy) as long as it advances their "career".

I am speaking from experience. I went to Cornell U. A fine collection of suck-up brown nosers if ever there was one. But not as fine as you will find at Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford (an Ivy in spirit)

Steve Byan said...

I succumbed to the temptation to listen to ME on the drive in this morning. Hearing Michelle Norris introduce Bill O'Reilly has convinced me to permanently turn off NPR; I'm not interested in listening to a Foxified version of People magazine. The man has no news value whatsover.

The preceeding report on the auto industry bailout was the typically-vacuous NPR drivel. Not a single mention of the real issues in the story: Republican union-busting, non-replacement of the fuel-efficiency funds, etc.

And the Missouri DOT story, filtered through some AEI think-tank idiot instead of a real economist. What a sorry waste of time.

Diogenes44 said...

Here's another example of a statementI heard this AM on NPR that I think can be attributed to ignorance and unfamiliarity with words.

The female emcee interviewed Bill O'Reilly, and introduced him as a *journalist*. But O'Reilly is not a journalist, and never has been a journalist. He's an entertainer, a commentator, etc, but journalism is a certain activity that people do, and afaik Reilly has never engaged in this activity.

If you listen carefully to the emcees on Morning Edition (and isn't it cute, the way they alternate reading sentences?), it becomes apparent that these are not people who've read widely and who are sensitive to the meanings and nuances of words.

RepubLiecan said...

I guess NPR was feeling sorry for O'Reilly losing his radio gig, so they gave him a little air time. O'Reilly, CondeLieza and Ridley all in one morning is simply too much too bear. The only thing worth listening to on NPR stations is the music, Car Talk and This American Life.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

^ ...and even THAT'S debatable! Two clods laughing hysterically at their own jokes & a program where deadpan monotone droning seems the pre-requisite aren't exactly my idea of compelling listening either.

And now this: just got the alert that Media Matters is having a contest for the most inane campaign commentary of 2008!

http://mediamatters.org/action_center/eoy08/?src=poll1

Surely NoPR woofed up more than just a few corkers in that regard? (Kookie Robot is cited for one but not sure if it was barfed up there or on George Snuffleuffagus' Sun morn coffee table show)

Porter Melmoth said...

Indeed, big!pink!, the whole calamitous mess that is Neocon Publicizing Radiation is representative of its TRUE AGENDA: to seep, ever so cleverly, into the minds of listeners who actually listen. We should not be at all surprised when ME cuddles up with Billo or CondiSleezza or whomever (just you wait for the worshipful job they'll do with Junior, once he's out of office - and on the lam from the law, in Paraguay, probably...). We shouldn't be surprised because, that's what NPR DOES, for crying out loud. Do we need any more evidence of what they truly are?

Indeed, I phased out 'Car Squawk' long ago because it was too self-congratulatory. Like most all of the 'NPR School of Humor', I'm still waiting for something to make me at least crack a crooked smile.

Actually, I'm not waiting. I'm truly moving on, past NPR. To my mind, their expiration date has long passed. I have no expectations from them. They've failed me. Let 'em rot from their own fungus, I say.

As the late, lamented Ed Murrow would say, Goodnight, and ... GOOD LUCK'...

Steve Byan said...

RepubLiecan said: "The only thing worth listening to on NPR stations is the music, Car Talk and This American Life."

This American Life is distributed by PRI, not NPR. At this point, I think NPR has no redeeming value what-so-ever.

Anonymous said...

"The female emcee interviewed Bill O'Reilly, and introduced him as a *journalist*. But O'Reilly is not a journalist, and never has been a journalist."

But by NPR (and MSM) standards, O'Reilly is a "journalist."

journalist does not mean what it used to. It is now much closer to "sensationalist".

Anonymous said...

To my mind, their expiration date has long passed. I have no expectations from them. They've failed me. Let 'em rot from their own fungus, I say."

I would agree with everything but the last sentence.

I say spray them with fungicide and be done with the whole failed "public radio" news theme. (figuratively speaking, of course: In other words, have Congress cut all funding to NPR AND NPR member stations). I don't want my tax dollars funding propaganda and the "career" of someone who is peddling such propaganda.

Porter Melmoth said...

...I forgot to add, if you're going to go on with NPR, you're gonna need it (luck, that is.) Plus, stamina. And anger. Plenty of anger.

I've commented on it before, but part of the subversion of NPR is its' ability to make me, well, angry. Particularly for the rest of the day, if I've just heard something outrageous on that inane 'introduction to the day', Mourning Edition. It fouls my mood, makes me sullen, and wastes my time. How can NPR DO this to me?? Because, pal, wake up: NPR's a Neocon tool. They just ARE, so accept it, condemn it, and get your life back.

The next phase is harder: to TRULY ween onesself away from the convenience and ease of flipping on that 'non-commercial' (yeah, RIGHT!) radio station in order to just get a handle on the news. Solution: don't touch that dial! Wait a bit and get the news from sources you trust. Forget the 'convenience' - NPR is corrupt, and they want their listeners to cave.

I'm not caving. NPR: begone!

Porter Melmoth said...

Postmortem:

There are certainly decent and sincere people who toil under the NPR yoke (a gig's a gig, after all), but I hope that some day, Dan Zwerdling, Phil Reeves, Ofebia Quist-Arcton, and a few - very few - others will be able to move on to better and more honorable employers. I don't hold it against them that they're sticking with such a propaganda machine - after all, they're out in the field - but I'd like to think that they're trying to uphold a belief that they're making NPR better because they don't stoop to the spin. Ed Murrow had the guts to leave CBS, but not everyone can do that. A job's a job, and things are closing in on the true journalists. In other words, it's tougher than ever to maintain credibility in that industry these days.

And yes, I've been saying for a long time: jerk the public money from these fake 'public' news organizations. They've got plenty of corporate bucks already. If someone can get me Rupert Murdoch's private cell number, I'm willing to devote a full day to convince him to embark on a (probably hostile) takeover of NPR. Then he can make his very own WSJ/Fox/NPR fascist nirvana!

Julia said...

I missed the O'Reilly interview, but I did catch the David Shrum interview. Inskeep asks lame questions, Frum gave lame anwers, and it's over.

Lucky me. We have 2 npr stations in the Bay Area. KQED & KALW. I prefer KALW for its independence.

A special on Winter Soldier recently aired. Who else would air that? Le Show, one of the best, is on Sundays. Jim Hightower is on in the morning. And my other favorite show Your Call isn't afraid of asking the questions. And the host does her homework. http://www.kalw.org