Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Richard Harris and Renee Montagne pick apart Al Gore's case on global warming in a strange exercise of focusing on the trivial while admitting but minimizing that the heart of Gore's argument is correct.

Harris says of Gore, "But that said, he does get the big picture very well. Most scientists say he really can see the forest for the trees." You can't say the same for Harris and Montagne; these two apparently can't even see the tree for the twigs!

This was a strange piece. The main complaints they raise with Gore's case are an overstatement of Arctic ice melt, sea level rise, and Hurricane Katrina. It's funny because they pick apart the Arctic ice issue because Gore gives an over-exact number of 34 years for something that should be an inexact estimate, but then they pick apart his argument on Katrina because he only "implies" that Katrina was due to global warming and he does this in (note the intended disparagement) "a very lawyerly way." Well, guess what NPR? Nobody is going to say Katrina was "a result of" global warming, but only fools or crass Bushists would fail to consider the obvious connection between global warming and the ferocity of the back to back hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005.

Too bad that in correcting the overstatements by Gore on sea-level rise, NPR doesn't mention that the predictions for sea-level increase have lately been revised significantly upward--and even a meter increase will be devastating here and globally.

It's sad that NPR can't address the heart of Gore's case--which is that if the leadership of this country, Democrat and Republican, don't take decisive action on CO2 emissions we are going to be seriously screwed...Seriously even Sports Illustrated gets it!


Anonymous said...

Your argument here is even stronger than you realize, because Gore's statements on both a sea level rise and Hurricane Katrina aren't as open to question as you are presuming. And they haven't been contradicted or knocked down by other experts or official studies in the way you might have heard reported, on NPR and elsewhere.

The New York Times recently ran with some very careless and loaded reporting on what Gore has been saying about these two aspects of global warming, and the rest of the press -- and his entrenched critics on the right -- have been repeating the Times' errors since then.

Check the second half of these two essays to see what I'm talking about...

If NPR is, essentially, parroting the Times' line on these aspects of Gore's claims, it's another sign of journalistic laziness, and the consequences caused by simply following the (often wrong) national press leader.

Anonymous said...

The "NPR Morning Zoo" lacks the ability to reflect on its performance. That absence was highlighted this Thursday during the letters segment. Renee read several letters in which listeners asked "Morning Edition" why it covered a story. For example, one listener asked why ME covered the opening of a Hooters restaurant in Israel. Renee's response pause and read the next letter (until, of course, she was done). Radio journalists--Bob Edwards, for one--would try explain their decision making. The "Morning Zoo" team has a simpler mission--fill the drive time with an upscale spread of light and heavy features.
At least they do it without obscenities.... (I do fear that one of these April Fools Day Steve and Renee will do their impression of a "Morning Zoo" team. The result will be embarrassing.)

Anonymous said...

It gets worse. This morning Elizabeth something reported on Gore's performance by characterizing him as three inane cliches, ending with an angry grandfather.

I have got to find something else to wake up to.

Porter Melmoth said...

Liberation from the morning rut of NPR is hard for the first few days, but after that, you might ask, 'Why aren't I as angry as I used to be?' Speaking for myself, weening myself from the NPR monkey on my back was refreshing, helpful, and enabled me get my priorities together. That is, my energy is better used approaching current events from other directions. It's not an avoidance issue. Thanks to Mytwords and this blog, I can still tackle NPR subjects, or I can select what I find valid or worth pursuing via the NPR website, without having to slog through the brain-frying packaging that the friendly folks at NPR want us to hear.
One of the reasons I critique NPR on-air personalities so much is that they actually HAVE personalities. Annoying ones. As this blog shows, it isn't just me who feels this way. BBC, which isn't what it used to be, nevertheless through all its decades has never inflicted its listeners with news people with particular personalities. It was wisely decided that doing that would get in the way of the news stories themselves, so the more neutral (though not dull) the news readers or reporters are, the more the story will come through. Shows with personalities were and are largely confined to the entertainment divisions. NPR, in its more immature wisdom, couldn't resist the breakfast TV carnival mix approach, even though their mandate should have nothing to do with ratings or sponsors. If there was some really good talent putting something like this together every day, it might work. Instead we've got the stodgy lifers: Big Bob 'The Pompous' Siegel, Melissa 'I'll be your hostess for the garden party today' Block, Michelle 'I'm more serious-sounding than all the rest of you put together' Norris, etc. And then we have the shallow blabberheads: Steve 'Tony Snow-please retire!' Inskeep, and Renee and Andrea, and on and on. Personally, I don't confine my criticism to mockery, but it's just a coping mechanism. The disappointment I have for NPR and what it has become is large-scale, and that's mainly why I had to extract myself from its toxins. I still try to expose myself to the reduced percentage of good and useful items that still appear on NPR, but quite frankly, I had to nip the daily morning diet of Notorious Public Radio in the bud. Sorry to ramble.

Kevan Smith said...

Ratings do matter to a certain degree. Public radio is supposed to serve the public. Does a show that few people listen to serve the public as much as one with more listeners? If the public isn't listening, you can't serve them at all. Going solely for ratings is generally not a public radio value, thankfully, but I agree that NPR seems a bit ratings obsessed.