Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Under Fire

If you haven't heard yet, Chas Freeman - Obama's pick to head up the National Intelligence Council - has been torpedoed by the neocon "pro-Israel" extremists. NPR's threadbare coverage of this important story bears comparison with another Obama appointee who withdrew under criticism of his record: John Brennan.

I posted quite a bit on NPR's (and especially Tom Gjelten's) distortions regarding the withdrawal of Obama's first pick to head the CIA, John Brennan back in late November-early December last year. At the time several significant journalist bloggers strongly criticized the appointment of Brennan due to his praise of intelligence gathered by CIA torture and his explicit support of torture/rendition flights and illegal wiretapping. NPR repeatedly claimed that Brennan's only fault was being a CIA associate during the time that such practices were going on. Furthermore NPR frequently used derogatory terms to belittle the efforts of bloggers to highlight Brennan's documented shortcomings: "a campaign of liberal bloggers," "the hubbub these liberal groups were raising," and "those people who were stoking the fires of criticism."

Compare this with the general and normative descriptions given to the radical crew of Likudist neocons who attacked the Freeman nomination:

On Tuesday's ATC Gjelten stated that "in recent years as a private citizen Freeman has been an outspoken critic of some US policies, especially regarding China and Israel. Because of that his appointment...was vigorously criticized..."

Again on Tuesday, Mary Louise Kelly stated, "Freeman has a record of speaking his mind on policies regarding China and Israel in particular, so Freeman's nomination faced opposition from the start..."

Oddly we NEVER get the substance of Freeman's remarks. His thinking on Israel can be found here, and as Andrew Sullivan points out, the outrageous nature of his "anti-Israel" comments are as follows:
"Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection. Instead, with each decade, Israel's behavior has deviated farther from the humane ideals of its founders and the high ethical standards of the religion that most of its inhabitants profess."
As far as Freeman's China remarks go, they appear to have been dishonestly obtained and purposely distorted. Other rather tame and rational ideas of Freeman's can be seen here. The important story is that the successful attack on Freeman indicates that even mild and perfectly rational critiques of US-Israeli foreign/military policy are not open for debate or discussion. (A policy which dovetails well with NPR's coverage of Israel-Palestine issues.)

Amazingly NPR never presents Freeman's remarks or focuses on the sleazy nature of the organizers of the attack on Freeman. Tonight Siegel had a thin and tepid interview with Freeman offering him the opportunity to rebut one critique of him, which he did quite effectively - but that's it.

Again, when presented with an easy opportunity to offer informative and substantive reports on a pressing issue - NPR fails to deliver.


Hubertg said...

It appears that NPR has an "interesting" way of framing certain issues these days...I go back far enough to remember that I used to look forward to the quality of NPR's investigative journalism. It is not working out so much along those lines these days. I wonder what happened ??!!

Steve said...

NPR does deliver, for neocon and corporate interests, every single time...

War On War Off said...

"Never Again*."

(*Unless it is someone else.)

Anonymous said...

"I go back far enough to remember that I used to look forward to the quality of NPR's investigative journalism. It is not working out so much along those lines these days. I wonder what happened ??!!"

What happened is that people like Kevin Klose came in and modeled NPR along the lines of VOA.

Sure, Klose weaned NPR from much of its DIRECT* public funding but in the process, he made it beholden to corporate interests.

In other words, people like Klose made NPR into the propaganda institution it is today.

*NPR member stations provide NPR with much of its money by purchasing NPR programming, but these member stations STILL get a great deal of public funding, so when NPR claims they receive very little public funding, it is dishonest in the extreme (ie, a LIE)

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

Robert Siegel would be MUCH happier on IPR (Israeli Public Radio).

Porter Melmoth said...

Wow, this segment is a perfect example of uNPR's subversive manipulation of 'interpretive news'. Here you have the sober, 'intellectual'-sounding Tom Gjeletin presenting a bunch of hearsay - or 'here, say...' factoids, in the most boring manner possible, so as to obfuscate and subtly influence listeners in a 'subliminable' style perfected during the Bush Dark Age. If it weren't for our Myt to flesh out the propaganda, I would never pick up on Gjeletinous' game-playing.

The blatant bozo nature of uNPR is obvious, but these more crafty angles are the most bone-chilling aspects of Kev's Klose-knit media mechanism.

Hubertg said...

Anonymous...Thank you. I really was in the dark about K Klose and the roll into the influence of corporate funding. That helps to explain the way things are at NPR.
Thanks again, I appreciate your response.

Anonymous said...

"Amazingly NPR never presents Freeman's remarks or focuses on the sleazy nature of the organizers of the attack on Freeman."

Nothing amazing about it.

NPR has become primarily about two things:

1) Maximizing income -- which means representing the "conventional wisdom", which will be inoffensive to their corporate sponsors: eg, "bloggers are always liberal and always unreliable" and "anyone critical of Israel is anti-semitic".

2) maintaining deniability -- in specific, about bias.
NPR does this through the facade of "balance". The purpose is so that whenever anyone claims that NPR has been biased in its coverage (either by commission or omission) NPR can "deny the bias charge" and point to "equal time" given to think tanks (one on the ultra-right and one in the "center" (eg, Joe Lieberman on the Iraq war)

Kevin Klose (NPR president from 1998 - just recently) was instrumental in NPR's metamorphosis, particularly with regard to NPR's emphasis on the above two things (at the expense of good news reporting, of course)

gopol said...

Klose was appointed by Clinton, amazingly enough. I guess it came down to Newty holding funding hostage so Clinton compromised by choosing a *Voice of America* (ie, professional propagandist) guy to ruin it. Not sure of the chronology...was it payback for all the impeachment reporting uNPR did?

Hubertg said...

To tell the truth, back in the day, NPR & PBS documentaries and reporting was so good that wondered how they got away with it, and how long it would last. Well, I have lived long enough for that question to be answered. I would be surprised if that level of journalism ever returned to America accessible as it was, to such a large audience.