Monday, March 10, 2008

Robbins' Fetid Baloney Sandwich

On NPR News what do you call a an outdoor prison camp where the 2000 inmates "live outside, sleeping on cots in hundreds of old canvas tents in the broiling summer heat and the chilly desert winter"? It's "the place called Tent City, Joe Arpaio's most famous invention" where "the idea is to make life tough and humiliating."

And when male inmates are forced to wear "a black and white striped uniform usually worn over pink underwear" that's just "the Sheriff's fashion creation" that inmates "model" for the NPR reporter.

Even when Robbins tells us that "for food the Sheriff serves the inmates green, as in fetid baloney sandwiches" the tone is humorously matter of fact.

I considered writing a parody of Ted Robbins' pro-police state report on Maricopa Sherrif Joe Arpaio, but it was just too depressing to try. His story is disgusting, and echoes the humorous euphemisms that torturers often use to describe their crimes.

It is telling that on a morning when anti-immigrant/nativist racism is making the news, NPR chooses to do a folksy send up of this anti-immigrant, racist, prisoner-abusing Sheriff, Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona. CNN covered this creep back in 1999 - and the story has grotesque foreshadowing of Abu Ghraib - inmates exposed to hot and cold weather in run down tents and forced to where humiliating underwear. In fact the Maricopa Sheriff's office drew the attention of Amnesty International back in 1997 for abuses and reported torture with stun guns - and the intervention of the ACLU in 2007 for abuse to a quarantined TB patient. But on NPR Arpaio is introduced by Steve Inskeep as "a man enforcing laws at all costs..." and his perverted practices are described by Robbins as "either innovative or a throw-back to harsher times."

There are times when I think maybe I'm a bit too critical of NPR, and then they run a piece like this and I just think, why would anyone with a conscience want to support this mockery of journalism.


LJansen said...

Is Arpaio running tours or something? 60 Minutes had his jail on there a couple weeks ago. Same public tv/radio crap. Although guess the pink underwear is a new innovation--they didn't have it on 60 minutes.

Anonymous said...

"why would anyone with a conscience want to support this mockery of journalism..."

Oh, indeed indeed indeed! Still livin' karma-free since ummm 1998? -Yes, I think that's right - '98.

It's not even fulfilling to freeload off of them anymore when all they incite is rage, irritation, disdain and indignation.

Someone in a ThinkProgress post last week lumped Inscreepy with Amy Goodman in a 'fantasy league' against Limbaugh and Savage. Yah, right.

Anonymous said...

Oh, ha! Just as I hit the submit button, that famous little jingle popped in me head...

"My baloney has a first name, it's N - P - R"

Life As I Know It Now said...

I can tell you one thing, they will never get another dime from me!

Anonymous said...

NPR disgusts, sickens and nauseates me continually. If I ever happen across any of their known personnel, and I happen to have rotten eggs and tomatoes on me, I shall not hesitate to pelt them with it.

They deserve that and more.

But while we frequently decry the MSM's lack of journalistic integrity--and rightly so--we can seldom think of providential actions to combat it.

The US has several fine media monitoring organizations like FAIR, Media Matters, Danny Schechter's Media Channel, etc.

Does the US have a Guild of Journalists or Order of Journalists (such as Italy) which seeks to enforce journalistic standards?

If not, I propose those journalists who are fed up with having to kiss arse to make a living join in a Guild For Ethics in Journalism. This nationwide guild would enforce standards of integrity like (1) A journalist will not parrot administration lies nor receive planted stories from undisclosed/unidentified sources; (2) journalists will seek to avoid falling in line--i.e., eschewing the herd mentality; (3) journalists will endeavor to expand the spectrum of sources and eschew reliance on this or that think tank; (4) journalists will endeavor to afflict the comfortable and not care a whit about "access;" (5) journalists will concern themselves with the facts and refrain from fabricating,etc. (insert your bullet point here).'s Glenn Greenwald had a good article a couple days ago, Tucker Carlson Unintentionally Reveals The Role of The American Press, found at, that talks about the meretricious nature of the mainstream media in the US.

This guild of journalists would have professional enforcement power--like the state bar--and any journalist that does not belong to it cannot be considered an "ethical" journalist--he or she may have issued from the journalism mills in the US, but without the seal of approval of this organization, neither may be considered an "ethical" journalist. Furthermore, this guild will have a journalistic integrity index on a par with organizations like Transparency International, and any journalist who belongs to the guild that receives a negative index placement can be sanctioned up to disbarment from the guild.

Any such organization can itself degenerate into pandering/proselytizing, and other nefarious comportments, so this guild would also be subject to international monitoring: that is, monitoring by other organizations such as Amnesty International, Transparency International, etc.--but not meretricious organizations like Robert Menard's Journalists without Borders, of course.

The creation of such a guild, under the above-explicitated framework would, I believe, go along way toward flushing the cloaca that is journalism in the United States.

Let me know what you think, Matt.

Be well,


Mytwords said...

On Flavio's comment: I'm just not informed enough about the profession of journalism to give an articulate response to this one. It's an interesting idea, but I just get a sense a guild might be one piece of improving journalism. I'd be curious to hear what someone like McChesney, Goodman, Gonzalez, Rothschild would say on the matter.