Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Return of Masbrow

Well, I've been on the road recently as well as having been sequestered in an intensive meditation retreat, so I was necessarily deprived of NPR for 2-3 weeks. It's hard to describe the serenity that sets in after a period of abstinence of that kind. However, I feel refreshed and recharged and once again ready to listen critically and doggedly to our nation's only public news organization. Since I've been back, not much has caught my ear, besides the airtime, previously covered here by Mytwords, given to the despicable John Bolton(who should never be allowed to hold forth on anything) and this little piece of analysis by the doddering Daniel Schorr.

I think Schorr has done some good work in the past, but his pieces on NPR over the last few years have seemed to have a definite "inside-the-beltway-pro-establishment" perspective combined with a "crotchety old know-it-all"style.

The subject is the deterioration of British-Russian relations, and Schorr concentrates on diplomatic tit-for-tat of the kind that was common during the Cold War:

"The British Council is a non-governmental organization devoted to spreading British Culture around the world. For years it has operated two centers in Russia. They give English lessons, they stage Shakespearian plays, that sort of thing." Schorr seems to think that Russian claims that the centers are a front for espionage are outrageous. Why? Because the British government and the British Council say so, and those Russians are "totalitarian".

Actually, using these kind of NGO's as cover for spying has a long history in Russia and the Soviet Union, both by Britain and the United States.

Why is Schorr always so credulous as to Western Governments claims? You'd think that with all he's seen he'd be a bit more skeptical,but I guess these NPR mouths will never learn, no matter how much time they have to do it.

1 comment:

Porter Melmoth said...

Welcome back to the grind! One thing about NPR though, strictly speaking, it's pretty easy to criticize them, whether it's pot shots (as is my wont) or in-depth (e.g. Mytwords). What's arduous is, as we all know, wading through the discharge that emanates from our speakers.

I mentioned previously that I think NPR management is a tad nervous about losing listeners to custom radio services like Sirius. It's just the dawn of custom broadcasting, so it's hard to speculate, but hopefully NPR will be privatized in the not-too-distant future and will fade away, to be replaced with greater accessibility to alternative and more serious news sources. I think the future looks bright for such things, while for the model of the traditional public radio will mutate, as it already has, more fully into a commercial, and thus more programmable entity.

A word about Dan Schorr. He's a historical figure, and he had his day, but the endless references to Nixon, Watergate, etc. are not particularly helpful any more. Today's political situations are much more extreme and the stakes are higher. I agree, he's definitely pro-establishment, having hung up his rebel stances long ago. His perspectives on Russia are way out of date, and figure into today because that's what the Neocon establishment wants. There's nothing the Neocons would love more than to rev up the 'USSR' again. Dan's had a respectable and interesting career, but I'm afraid the old guy is a sideshow of little value today.
Even his contemporaries have had the sense to act their age. Mike Wallace has gracefully stepped into emeritus status at 60 Minutes, and Walter Cronkite, if anybody at NPR has heard, recently called for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It's as if Dan's determined to outlast everybody, even if, to use Mike Wallace's phrase, it's in the wilderness of National Public Radio. It sort of smacks of, 'I'm lord of a garbage pile, but it's MY garbage pile.'