Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed and encouraged.


biggerbox said...

Somali pirates and al-Qaida are two different things, with different contexts and movitvations and complexities. But that didn't stop Morning Edition from fear-mongering and trying to conflate them. Dina Temple-Raston had a piece titled "Experts Fear Al-Qaida May Turn To Piracy". It was primarily a platform for just one "expert", Robert D. Kaplan to spin fantasies about what could "potentially" happen. How likely is that possibility?

The story admits that "Right now, most experts say the Somali pirates trolling the waters of the Indian Ocean are criminals, motivated by money. And so far, according to Bill Braniff of West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, al-Qaida has tried to distance itself from those kinds of operations. They like to see themselves as fighters with a higher calling."

Notice the "right now" and "so far" in that passage. As if we expect it to change at any moment? Any evidence of that? Nope, just a quick move back to more fearful images from Kaplan.

All in all, no real insight into Somalia or al-Qaida, just a bunch of 'OMG, what if the boogie-men team up????'

WarOnWarOff said...

Right now, most experts say the Somali pirates trolling the waters of the Indian Ocean are criminals, motivated by money.Oooh, guess those "experts" haven't concerned themselves with the toxic waste and overfishing that's obviously not "criminal" in the eyes of such "experts."

Porter Melmoth said...


Check out today's On Point.

Today's guest: Vivian Schiller, NPR Czar!

The blurb:

"Vivian Schiller — the tip-top boss of NPR — joins us for a conversation on the future of public radio and to take your calls."


Could be interesting, or it could be a bore. Attention East Coasters - get on the phone now! (If it isn't too late.)

Porter Melmoth said...

This just turned up in On Point comments lineup:

"I wonder how Ms Schiller is going to address the increasingly trenchant critiques that are aimed at NPR, as its corporate and special interest influences contradict its public funding foundations. The watchdog blog NPR Check (http://www.nprcheck.blogspot.com/) is full of examples showing NPR's very obvious biases, it's poor choices in on-air talent, its disgraceful allowance of Anne Garrels' unethical report on torture 'victims', the NPR smugness, NPR's deception in posing as a supposedly 'liberal' news source, the problem of its contributors who moonlight at Fox News, NPR's preference for subjects appealing to the upper middle class and affluent classes, the 'genial condescension' applied to listeners, and many, many other examples of poor quality radio, that is currently being praised because it is supposedly the only 'alternative' news source available for 'thinking people'.

In my opinion, NPR News as it is now should be wholly revamped and replaced with a more neutral and unencumbered news approach, and let the commercial media outlets handle the clutter of 'infotainment' in their own ways.

This critique is not aimed at the many splendid offerings that NPR stations offer independently of the network. Indeed, it is only aimed at NPR News."

Anonymous said...

RE: pirates

You know, its kind of funny (in a tragic sort of way).

We hear about this two bit piracy 24/7 when the REAL piracy is occurring in the oval office with nary a word of criticism from NPR and the rest of the mainstream quacks.

Our government is facilitating the piracy of the US treasury to the tune of 1 trillion dollars (or more) -- ie, robbery of a trillion dollars of tax dollars to be paid in unmarked bills to the big banks.

And the mainstream news media is essentially SILENT on what Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz called it: "Robbery of th American people", or what S&L investigator William Black has called it: "the greatest looting of the American people in our history".

Piracy indeed!

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


Great find. I posted this to their blog:

Back in the 90s, a movement started called “public journalism.” NPR played some lip service to it, but largely dismissed it at “advocacy” journalism — in short, NOT objective. Nonetheless, NPR’s experts and sources (often their own employees) have no trouble interpreting and otherwise filtering the news for its listeners. Whether critics call it bias or not really isn’t the point. Several academic studies have been done regarding media bias, and people will argue the merits of these studies, including sampling and methodology and indeed — bias of the individual or institution that performs the study. Regardless, NPR’s problems are largely that it behaves (and sounds) like much of the conventional, commercial media. Sure, it’s not shrill (like the left-wing bloggers it likes to scorn) or bombastic (like the right-wing networks it claims to be disparate from), but it is indeed mainstream, inoffensive, long-form nonsense much of the time. What good are 7-minute long interviews where hosts speak to other journalists, government and corporate officials most if not nearly ALL the time? To me, it sounds like conversations one would overhear at elite, DC-, NY-, and LA-centered cocktail parties. Does that represent “the public”. Truly “public journalism” provides valuable information to the citizenry to enable them to make good, socially-beneficial decisions. It empowers citizens in a democracy. It seems to me that NPR is more about empowering itself — increasing market share, maximizing audience numbers, and growing it’s base of CONTRIBUTORS. Except for issues of “profit” how exactly is that different from commercial broadcasting?


Anonymous said...

it’s not shrill (like the left-wing bloggers it likes to scorn) or bombastic (like the right-wing networks it claims to be disparate from), but it is indeed mainstream, inoffensive, long-form nonsense much of the time."

While i agree with the gist of what you are saying, I would beg to differ on just a few counts:
"Shrill", "bombastic", and "inoffensive" are all in the eye of the beholder.

I find NPR very "shrill" at times (listen to MEESHELL Norris some time (any time? Every time?), very bombastic often (listen to Smokey Robinson [aka Cokie Roberts] and the Supremes , Mara Liarson, Don Begoneaway, ) and very offensive almost always (my ears are very sensitive to BS and that comes nonstop (24/7) on NPR)

Porter Melmoth said...

Bravo, JET. very helpful.

NPR really needs to listen to feedback that goes way past the 'I liked this' and/or 'I didn't like that'. Like/dislike tends to be the extent of popular criticism/reaction to the media in general these days.

Yes, they NEED to listen, but they demonstrate time and again that they really aren't interested at all. They are indeed interested only in themselves, like any good free market capitalistic enterprise.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


All points well made!

Perhaps I should have been clearer. NPR THINKS it is an alternative to left-wing shrill and right-wing bombast. That NPR believes its own nonsensical branding statements, is not at issue.

You and I believe something starkly different -- based upon evidence (both content and context) -- not upon obvious marketing, public relations and endless, focus-group testing.

Here's a great example of how NPR (On Point) rates NPR (the organization) on its own website:

'And NPR is bigger than ever. Fast Company magazine calls NPR “The country’s brainiest, brawniest news-gathering giant.” Says it may end up “saving the news.” That’s a tall order.'


bigg!pinkk!fuzy!buny! said...

“The country’s brainiest, brawniest news-gathering giant.”Wooooo. Well, slap me intimidated! (Wotta laff.)

Porter Melmoth said...

Fast Company sounds like they're pulling a 'fast one'. Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

"And NPR is bigger than ever. Fast Company magazine calls NPR “The country’s brainiest, brawniest news-gathering giant.” Says it may end up “saving the news.”Somehow it does not surprise me that this assessment is coming from Tim Assbrook.

That guy is completely full of himself (and it).

His pre and post-invasion "reporting" on (ie, cheer-leading for) the war in Iraq made me more sick to my stomach than i have ever felt watching Fox news.

He's supposed to be a notch above that stuff -- claims as much ad nauseam (as do others on NPR), which makes ME nauseated.

Anonymous said...

Should be "Tom Ashbrook"

Sorry :)

Hubertg said...

"Pirates are motivated by money?"
..how shocking can that be??...fantastic reporting on that one. I always thought they just liked the hats and those cool pants along with those parrots.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

I can't believe we have to wait until September 19, 2009 for International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Do you suppose NPR will be able to make this news theme last until then? Let's hope so, because I can't wait to hear Steve Inskeep or Scott Simon do their best rendition. After all, 09/19/2009 falls on Saturday this year.

big!pink!fuzzy!pirate! said...

[I]Should be "Tom Ashbrook"[/I]

I'll accept the Tom part.

Anonymous said...

RE: Pirates and parrots.

yes, indeed.

Lots of both at NPR, that's for sure.

They'll steal your money and give you parroted politician platitudes in return.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

All,Steve Inskeep interviews "noted analyst" Richard "Dick" Bove (pronounced, "Bo-VAY") on ME today. Bove says, "despite all the doom saying about the banking industry, it's actually in good shape," among many other pearls of banking wisdom. Listen here.

But a "quick search" (and by quick, I mean, 15-seconds quick using "The Google"), I netted these choice quotes from a single story on Forbes.Com from "Bove the Bull" back in May 2008.

This one: "In the current climate, Bove is recommending that investors buy large-cap bank stocks like Bank of America (nyse: BAC - news - people ) and Wells Fargo (nyse: WFC - news - people ). Bove acknowledges that these banks will be hurt by subprime loans, but he says his picks are diversified enough that other factors will fuel their businesses."And this one: "Mistakes? Bove said last September that Bear Stearns (nyse: BSC - news - people ) was in deep trouble and that some "new blood" in the form of a major investment "may be necessary for the future health of the company." Based on the likelihood of a big outside investment, Bove raised his rating on Bear Stearn's stock from "sell" to "market perform," which is equivalent to a "hold." Like many on Wall Street, Bove underestimated the extent of Bear's woes."And, another one: "Contrary to the pessimism that is dominating Wall Street, Bove has an upbeat view of the U.S. economy, which he believes is currently in recovery. "There is already tremendous pressure to invest," Bove says. "It has happened already. Look at the junk bond market--there has been a significant rally."You gotta love Wall Street banking analysts. They are always bullish, especially when it comes to their BULL! And of course, so long as we are talking about barnyard animals, Steve Inskeeep plays the part of the sheep.


Anonymous said...

check out dean baker's comment on npr business reporting:


Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


WOW, great link. By the way, go to the story on the NPR site. Grumpy Demo took them to task. Really, GD carves them up as only a REAL banker can.


Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...


Katy Kay is sitting in for Diane Rehm today. She's usually a great host. And, Dean Baker is is a guest.


You can download the podcast at the end of the show if you can't listen live. Also, KNAU (Northern Arizona Public Radio) streams it as a delayed broadcast on their website.



Anonymous said...

"despite all the doom saying about the banking industry, it's actually in good shape," Yes, of course it is if you look only at the latest profits reports that these banks are issuing and ignore everything else.

By that measure, the banks are doing dandy.

Bank of America? $3 billion for latest quarterly profit.

but we won't talk about all that other stuff and certainly not about the $45 billion they received in TARP money ($25 billion to begin with and then $20 billion MORE to pay for the huge losses incurred by Merrill Lynch, which BofA had just purchased (using 75% of their recently received $25 billion bailout, of course)

We also won't talk about the bailout money that was "funneled" through AIG to BofA/Merrill Lynch ($12 billion). Besides, that's technically a bonus, a windfall, kinda like th e bag of money you find on the side of the road that just fell out of the armored car in front of you.


But we won't talk about any of that (it's all water over the bridge, anyway).

Instead, let's focus on the important thing: bank "profits".

PS: With accounting like that, who needs reality? or accounting classes, for that matter. Credits and debits? that's so old school. The "new" accounting has only one column "Credits" (unless, of course, you want to include the "virtual" column "stuff we won't/don't talk about")

Anonymous said...

It's great to have diverse viewpoints, but NPR should try to make sure that the economic analysts it features have some grasp of reality" -- Dean baker (from the piece linked to above. Thanks!)

Baker was talking about Bove's (and NPR's?) analysis of the banking situation, but his comment applies to pretty much everything NPR reports on air (and "air" is a pretty good description for what they call analysis).

They interview these used car salesmen ..I mean experts ... and expect us (the listeners) to actually buy what they are selling simply because they work at a THINK Tank that put an "EXPERT" stamp on their forehead.

It's absurd, if you really think about it for more than a nanosecond.

if you think about it for less time (a pico-second, for example), it's "just plain dumb". (For a femto-second, "nonsense" )

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

I SOOOO Much prefer Katty Cay to that old battle-axe Diane Rehm, the dowager of dull, and countess of the conventional wisdom...

I highlighted Baker's expostulations in a post of my own today, wherein I excoriated Insqueeks "jaw-dropping credulity.".

larry, dfh said...

Thanks to all for the valuable references. I gotta come to Diane Rehm's defense a bit. Many years ago I caught one of her shows and something about marijuana was mentioned, and for the next half hour all she got was calls from pot smokers, and though she obviously didn't approve, she was always gracious and didn't appear to be screening the calls. She gave us dopers an uncritized forum, which I apprecieated. I've also heard her name in post-show credits as Engineer on a WPFW (Pacifica) broadcast, which more than likely she did for free. Also, I saw a C-span show where she interviewed Jimmy Carter and they discussed the Iraq war. She seemed quite regrettful of the whole mess, so I give her creds for being human, which is more than that deserved by other npr hosts.