Monday, June 25, 2012

Light's Out

Hello NPR Checkers and anyone stopping by for a look.

I think it's time for a final post to NPR Check.  For the first several years of this blog I posted nearly every day, and then began slowly cutting back.  For the last year I have not posted more than about once a month, and as you can see from the date of the last post - even that modest output has ground to a halt, and I think it's time to call it quits.

I don't want to repeat the reasons for cutting back on my output - you can read that in posts here and here.  My main reason for no longer working on NPR Check is that I no longer spend any time listening to NPR news.  As journalism it is worthless: nothing more than an echo chamber for the views of the powerful interests and forces that control this country - large US and multinational corporations, departments and agencies of US military and foreign policy, and the national Republican and Democratic parties, etc.  As an organization, NPR never challenges or confronts the myth of US goodness in foreign policy, the belief in US exceptionalism, the supposed benefits of capitalism and market ideologies. 

In closing I would encourage any and all people who still contribute to NPR stations to cancel your support for these stations (or some portion of your support) - and let them know that you are sending your financial support to media outlets that do not give your money to NPR (e.g. DemocracyNow! Free Speech Radio Network, Common Dreams, FAIR etc.).  It saddens me to cut my support for our local NPR station, since they do some outstanding local programming, but they give the lion's share of their funding to NPR which consistently promotes US aggressive war, imperialism, militarism, torture, rightwing populism, climate science denial, and predatory capitalism.  There are far better places and organizations to support.

Thank you everyone who has read and posted at this blog over the years. Please stay active in the political struggle for justice, peace, democracy, fairness and the health of the planet.

Matthew Murrey

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Q Tips

NPR related comments, critiques and observations are always welcomed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fair and Balanced from 1% Radio

Last Monday (3/19/12) on Morning Edition, Steve Inskeep and Sylvia Poggioli presented a casebook study in NPR's contempt for popular democracy and its use of false equivalency to smear leftists.  I heard this report last Monday, but was headed off for a vacation and so am posting on it late.

Poggioli was reporting on the economic crisis in Greece and how it has upended the political system there.   Inskeep introduces the report with this little frame:
"the old political system is collapsing and extremist parties are rising in popularity."
Early in the report Poggioli reports on a demonstration by the police officers' union against the austerity measures approved by the Greek Parliament.  She comments,
"They ominously waved their handcuffs at Parliament, shouting take your bailout plan and get out of here."
She does tell us that the head of the union "accused Greece's international lenders of plundering his country and even called for their arrest." Yes, so extreme and unhinged; why would anyone think that the international financiers are plundering Greece?

Poggioli presents poll results showing that "the four small leftist parties are ahead by 43 percent and could win a majority and in theory form a governing coalition."  Poggioli then states the following completely antidemocratic idea as if it were basic commonsense: "That terrifies Greece's creditors, some of whom have questioned the wisdom of holding elections."

Apparently, "the four small leftist parties" are the left side of the "extremist parties" that Inskeep warned of in the opening.  Equating these leftists with the extreme right, Poggioli states,
"And it's not just the left that's gaining popularity. So are two new far-right movements. One is the ultranationalist and neo-fascist Golden Dawn, which preaches the superiority of the white race.....Its bookshop is filled with tracts on Nazism and sells t-shirts of Hitler."
Brilliant really, how a neo-fascist, supremacist party which sells Hitler t-shirts is put on the same footing as leftist parties that oppose the austerity measures.  In case your not convinced that Poggioli and NPR want listeners to equate leftist parties (and individuals) who oppose 1% predatory, job-killing rule with Nazi-loving genocidal rightists, here's Poggioli to hammer home the point:
 "At the other end of the political spectrum, one of the parties doing well in the polls is far-left Syriza that wants to re-negotiate the terms of the bailout."
Indeed, the oh-so-scary leftist SYRIZA party which wants to "re-negotiate the terms" (such extremism!) of the rapacious and suicidal "bailout" package being forced on Greece by the international banking community (with Germany in the lead) is on the other end of the spectrum from a genocidal, Hitler adoring party!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The 1% Whisperer on Poor Countries: It's Their Fault

The graphic comes courtesy of the Planet Monkeys. Thanks!

 Seems like the stupider you are, the more willing your are to shill for the uber-wealthy, the more you praise exploitation and income inequality, the more you attack social welfare programs and ignore war spending, then the more likely you are to get air-time on NPR.

So, of course, I was suspicious when on Friday afternoon, Mr. Davidson, the intrepid "journalist" who always seems to put his mouth where the money is, emerged from his Planet O' Money to sing the praises of a book which Davidson claims answers a question that has supposedly stymied economists for "centuries": "Why are some nations rich, while others are poor?"

The book, Why Nations Fail, actually appears to have some very interesting things to say about "extractive institutions," which anyone - except for a total Wall Street sycophant - might think would apply to dynamics in the US, especially given that the finance industry essentially controls the US government.  Furthermore, anyone with the even the slightest historical sense would look at some of the poorest nations in the world and have to admit that European and US colonialism/imperialism has "blessed" them with just those vile "extractive institutions" which guarantee endemic poverty.  Apparently Mr. Davidson is bereft of any such historical awareness, since the role of Europe and the US in imposing misery on Africa and Central and South America respectively is never mentioned.

So just what does NPR's 1% lovin' Planet Monkey have to say about the book?  Here it is:
"The key difference between rich countries and poor ones is the degree to which a country has institutions that keep a small elite from grabbing all the wealth." (I wonder where one could find "a small elite...grabbing all the wealth"?)

And Davidson continues,

"This can seem discouraging but their message does offer hope. Poverty is not the inevitable result of bad geography, bad culture, bad history. It's the result of us: of the ways that people choose to organize their societies. And that means we can change things." (Seems like I recall someone else selling HOPE and CHANGE under the banner of not looking backwards.)

Yes we can!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Eyes of Mara

On February 22, 2012, when Jake Tapper, ABC senior White House correspondent, asked how the Obama administration's praise for serious journalism in Syria could "square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle blowers to court" - journalists of conscience like Glenn Greenwald took note.  Readers of this blog were quick to point out that in the video clip of the interchange, NPR's National Pundit of the Right - Mara Liasson - could barely contain her scorn.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Q Tips

NPR related comments, critiques and observations are welcomed and encouraged.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Assassinating English: Belligerent Signals

A Belligerent Signal - from The Mirror (UK)

As usual, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on the distorted coverage by the US mainstream media [including NPR] regarding the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.  In spite of official US denial and condemnation of the murder - most experts agree that Israel - and possibly - the US were responsible for the killing (although at this time there is no conclusive proof).

However, as Glenn Greenwald points out, the murder allows us to see how the term "terrorism" is worthless as a factual term, but - in the US mainstream press - is a politically loaded term of propaganda applied ONLY to states and individuals deemed hostile to the US government/corporate interests.  By comparing the coverage of this actual terrorist attack against a civilian scientist to the coverage of the ludicrous US claims regarding Iran's supposed plot to kill a Saudi ambassador, one can see how the term "terrorism" is distorted and misused in most major news organizations in the US.  And NPR is no exception.

If you have any doubts that NPR is somehow distinct from other corporate news organizations, this latest story offers firm evidence to the contrary.  A simple search on NPR's site will reveal the way the NPR aligns its coverage:

Search "Iran terror assassination" on NPR's site and limit it to "Heard on Air" and you get FIVE stories (3-Morning Edition and 2-All Things Considered) on the flimsy, alleged Iranian assassination plot from October 2011, but NONE on this actual terrorist act against Iran. Among the stories from October is this chestnut featuring State Department "intellectual" Ray Takeyh throwing around various forms of the word "terror" (in relation to Iran) 13 times!

To find anything aired on NPR regarding the actual political murder of a civilian in Iran you have to drop "terror" from your search and simply query NPR with "Iran assassination" and limit it to "Heard on Air".  Doing this gives you ONE story on All Things Considered. Not only does this January 11, 2012 story not mention terror or terrorism, it features Peter Kenyon normalizing this assassination as a legitimate tool of statecraft.  Paraphrasing nuclear analyst David Albright, Kenyon says, "Tehran must be feeling the pressure." Albright then speaks,
"It knows that some of its scientists are under threat by assassination. There's been cyberattacks. There's efforts to get Iranians to defect. And we've called it kind of a third way. All those things are continuing, and that's added to the pressure."
If there is any doubt that Kenyon and NPR share this criminal attitude, Kenyon adds,
"This is the latest in a series of increasingly belligerent signals between Tehran and Western capitals."
That's interesting because I don't recall the "plot" to kill the Saudi ambassador described as a "belligerent signal," and I would wager a Romney-sized $10,000 that the assassination of a US or Israeli scientist by Iranian-backed killers would never be called a "belligerent signal" on NPR.

One can not help but listen to this rubbish from NPR and recall the previous Ombudsman's defense of NPR's refusal to call torture "torture" when the US committed it.  NPR could not call waterboarding torture  because, as she put it, "the problem is that the word torture is loaded with political and social implications for several reasons."  And of course, the exact same twisted reasoning must be motivating NPR to avoid using any form of the word terror to describe actions that serve US government interests - no matter how clearly they fit any basic understanding of the term.