Friday, March 06, 2009

It's Alive

The usually unresponsive OMBOTsman actually does occasionally respond - and with even more than a cut a paste reply. BigGuy, a reader of this blog, sent me the interchange he had with NPR's ombudsman Alicia Shepard. It speaks for itself:

BigGuy wrote to NPR with the following:

Nearly every time Daniel Schorr is on, some person from the Right is also invited to give comments later on. In contrast, whenever Juan Williams or David Brooks is on, someone from the Left is NOT presented. Why do you have so many commentators from the Right? Why so few from the Left? Why do we hear from Juan Williams and/or David Brooks nearly every week, and from Katrina vanden Heuvel and Eric Alterman from the Nation on the Left at most once a quarter, usually only once or twice a year?

To which he received the following response:
Dear BigGuy -- thank you for taking the time to contact the Ombudsman's office. I do however want to correct some misconceptions in your email.

There is never anyone on after Dan Schorr speaking for the right. I do think it would be good if NPR had someone on who had counter thoughts/political leanings than Dan Schorr.

You mentioned David Brook. I checked with NPR's political editor and he is never on without the left-leaning E.J. Dionne. They are always a duo on Fridays -- except when Brooks can't make it and then NPR gets another conservative to sub or vice versa if Dionne isn't able to make it. EJ Dionne is way more liberal than Brooks, who is a moderate conservative.

As for Juan Williams, I don't know that he's so easy to pigeonhole as being on the right or left. One can't make that assumption just because he's also on Fox News, as Mara Liasson is also on Fox.

I did pass on your point to the political editor that you would like to see people like Alterman and vanden Heuvel.

Thank you again for writing. I hope this helps clear up misconceptions. Try to listen on Fridays to All Things Considered and you will hear Brooks-Dionne.

Alicia Shepard
NPR Ombudsman
Needless to say, BigGuy felt compelled to follow up with a few corrections of Shepard's misconceptions:
Thank you very much for your considerate reply. I rarely have received a reply from NPR other than a form letter.

That said, what you wrote below is partly untrue. Whenever Daniel Schorr is on, someone from the Right is also on the Saturday show, although not immediately after, but about 15 to 30 minutes later. Usually, it's someone from AEI or the Cato Institute or the like. It's true that they are not set up to be directly a counterpoint to Mr. Schorr.

Check your records and you'll see that when Daniel Schorr is broadcast, someone like Eric Alterman or Katrina vanden Heuval or Greg Palast is NEVER broadcast on the same show. NPR hardly ever has someone from the Left to give commentary about anything when Daniel Schorr is broadcast.

Mara Liasson and Juan Williams continually skew to the Right as does Cokie Roberts, almost without fail. You say their politics are not clearly on the Right and I should not mistake their appearances on Fox (and ABC) TV as representing their politics. But you are mistaking their appearance for their political convictions. They look like many liberals, but they are conservatives, nearly always. You're handling a radio broadcast so it'd be helpful if you wouldn't be distracted by appearances. All three skew to the Right and sometimes the Center, but hardly ever the Left.

Just because the Right has been "working the Refs" by claiming that NPR skews to the Left for years does not mean that NPR does skew to the Left. That's simply FALSE. NPR does not skew to the Left.

Again, thank you very much for your reply. I appreciate being acknowledged and appreciate the time and trouble taken to write back to me.



Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


Thanks for exchange between BigGuy and the OmBOTSman (aka OmbudsBOT). Clearly, it (or she) can neither read nor understand, as BigGuy's correspondence was quite clear to me. Perhaps next time, we should send future communiqu├ęs in binary?

Also, I'd really like the machine to explain to me why EJ is so much further to the left than David Brooks is to the right. Has Brookings become infected by Communists? If so, then why do political science programs in the United States use so many of his works as TEXTBOOKS?

For me, that comment simply means that if one is a highly intelligent and widely published author, he is part of the left-wing, liberal intelligentsia. And, if one is a consummately average and ubiquitous chattering-class columnist, he is part of the mainstream middle. Of course, that follows with today’s conventional wisdom. We should be suspicious of know-it-alls and embrace our know-nothings. What better way to do that then label with the Scarlet “L”.

In an attempt to appear OBJECTIVE, NPR still manages to be WRONG. Why am I not surprised?


gopol said...

What makes this so pathetic is that Daniel Schorr is hardly on the left. At best, he is at center. What's *so* much worse is that host Scott Simon is a war monger is a horrid simpleton warmonger. Consider this report (among many)

It's just so twisted - surprisingly, he is a happy-go-lucky joker who loves himself dearly and is glad to help wage wars with whatever propaganda his minders can muster.

Anonymous said...

NPR OmbotAs for Juan Williams, I don't know that he's so easy to pigeonhole as being on the right or left. One can't make that assumption just because he's also on Fox News, as Mara Liasson is also on Fox.

Q: How do you know when the NPR Ombot needs its batteries replaced?

A: When the Ombot gives Mara Liasson as the shining example of someone whose political leanings are not clearcut.

NPR's Ombot needs new batteries for sure -- and maybe also a new positronic brain.

But nio matter how many brain upgrades the Ombot has, "Commander Data" it will never be.