Monday, June 22, 2009

A Recommendation

If you haven't seen it, definitely head over to Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory blog to read his take-down of Alicia Shepard's defense of NPR's refusal to call torture torture. Then consider heading over to Shepard's disgraceful post and read and/or add to the slew of comments taking her to task for her Orwellian tour de force.


Kevan Smith said...

The influx of Greenwald's readers to the ombudsman's comments is going to be counterproductive. NPR thinks of itself as a very special, exceptional news service. Instead of taking the criticism to heart, they will twist it to prove to themselves that they hold the correct position. Seriously, the exceptionalism NPR applies to itself is impenetrable.

JayV said...

Wow, last I looked, there were only 2 pages of comments on the Greenwald post; now it's up to 10 pages (over 100 comments).

Good that this has become an alone post on NPRCheck, too.

biggerbox said...

It was hard to fit my criticism into the NPR comment character limit, but I did my best. That was a truly appalling post from Ms. Shepard - not just weaseling, but poorly written and confusing. It's really surprising to me that its author teaches at an accredited institution - I'd expect writing like that from an undergraduate, not a professor.

Mourning the death of honesty and truth said...

Shepard's (NPR ombudsman) Orwellian take on attempting to justify avoiding the use of a very clearly understood and defined word, torture, is a perfect example of the banality of evil.

It is evil, and a conscious decision to exercise evil, when one buys into another's evil, such as the Bush administration's promulgation and implementation of torture, and effectively defends it by avoiding the use of terms which help define the truth of crucial matters under debate and of controversial nature. This is critical to the health of our nation and its future, especially now.

Torture is torture. It's as simple as that. War crimes were committed by a wide variety of Bush administration personnel. They should be prosecuted, and if found guilty, imprisoned.

Shepard's horrific error in judgement, and I don't think it could be considered either simply mistaken or unconscious, is to violate the basic tenet of journalism, which is to tell the truth, and point out lies, fraud, and deception for exactly what they are--illegal, unethical, and immoral. Worthy of appropriate punishment.

As such, Shepard, by avoiding the truth and impugning the reality of the facts, is willfully practicing evil, knows this, and should also be punished by being removed as ombudsman for NPR. Greenwald's interpretation of her lies, which is what they are, is precisely on target. NPR, if they continue this practice, and retain Shepard as ombudsman, is guilty of same, which is to be acting as black propagandists and defenders of the worst administration in American history. By continuing this offensive and indefensible policy, they only discredit themselves as having any journalistic ethics or integrity whatsoever.

The same could be now said for the recent policies of both the New York Times in avoiding the use of the term torture, and the Washington Post's recent dismissal of Froomkin, while adding to their overburdened roster of fascistic neocon's like Krauthammer and now the war criminal Wolfowitz. Even Obama through various policies and DOJ instructions is buying into this neoconservative reality distortion field.

These inclinations, lies, distortions, and just plain evil are the path to self-destruction.

I mourn for the death of honesty and truth that the radical, reactionary response to 9/11 has caused to destroy the ideals and rule of law this country was supposedly based upon. Democracy is under threat by such false and base evils.

Part of this process of malign neglect of truth is based on the mainstream media's apparent inability to admit, face up to, and show just how badly they failed during the Bush administration to show how the Iraq war was based on fabrications and deliberate lies, and how the media largely went along with it. Now that this fact has been exposed via alternative media sources largely internet-based, the MSM finds itself increasingly unable to face the truth about itself, and so contributes to a further decline in the body politic of our nation, instead of confronting it, and thus becomes a willing and able partner in the conspiracy to further undermine what is left of America's original principles and ideals.

Who's watching the watchers? And will it make any difference?

Seeing_I said...

I for one will seriously reconsider whether to contribute to my local station.

Andy said...

I already don't contribute to my local station--for this very sort of practice.

WarOnWarOff said...

Wow. Finally the game is up, NPR. Your formerly loyal listeners are leaving in droves, and you have only yourselves to blame.

Thanks again to NPR Check and Glenn Greenwald for picking up the rocks to reveal all the slimey things crawling underneath.

Anonymous said...

From a comment on Greenwald's blog that he boosted to the end of the post"If NPR were sincere about their 'describe, don't label' doctrine, then they would forego the use of the words 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' in favor of something like 'harsh combat techniques'."

...and they would forgo the use of their own moniker "National Public Radio" in favor of something like "radio that parrots the views of those in power" (aka National Parrot Radio. Awk, Alicia wants a cracker! Awk!)

Anonymous said...

It's kind of funny.

After reading some of the comments on the NPR web site, it's pretty clear that Alica Shepard has just done what 100 Glenn Geenwald's and NPR Checks could not do: driven listeners from NPR like torture might drive a man from sanity.

My most sincere thanks, Alicia!

Damn, you're doing a good job of revealing the inner nothingness of NPR (Nothing Present Radio)

Anonymous said...

From the Alica Shepard piece:

"There has been no clear consensus on what constitutes torture"

...except among those who have been tortured (and hey, who cares about them, anyway? They're all terrorists, right? Why else would they be tortured? .. er, "Harshly interrogatesed")

RepubLiecan said...

@ Anonymous at 6/23/09 9:24 AM

"Damn, you're doing a good job of revealing the inner nothingness of NPR (Nothing Present Radio)"

I think you are on to something. Perhaps Ms. Shepard couldn't bring herself to directly speak against the tortured logic that NPR management is using in refusing to use the word torture, so she just flatly stated the party line and let the chips fall where they may. Whatever her intention, the result is noteworthy.

Porter Melmoth said...

No doubt Ann Garrells was a consultant to Ms Shepard.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps Ms. Shepard couldn't bring herself to directly speak against the tortured logic that NPR management is using in refusing to use the word torture, so she just flatly stated the party line and let the chips fall where they may."

Party line indeed.

Perhaps Alicia Shepard is really the Mikhail Gorbachev of NPR -- bringing the whole stinking edifice crashing down, albeit unintentionally (or perhaps not)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think Shepard is capable of purposefully doing what she has (or even cognizant of what she has done), but I believe that she has accomplished something very significant with that one piece.

She has hung NPR's "prime directive" out on the line for everyone to see:

"NPR's job is to give listeners all perspectives".

That's what the whole fair and balanced thing boils down to.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with "getting at the truth" (the goal of traditional journalism).

It's simply about presenting "all perspectives" (presumably that includes the perspective of the mother in Afghanistan who just had her baby blown to bits by a bomb dropped from an American B1, though I don't recall ever hearing that particular "perspective" on NPR).

Most of us here suspected all along that NPR had no interest in truth finding or anything else remotely related to traditional journalism.

But now we have it directly from the Horse's mouth.

Now we can just refer to Shepard's piece (The Shepard Doctrine?) whenever we wish to decry the fact that NPR is not doing journalism.

Interestingly, Shepard's piece puts nearly everyone at NPR in a somewhat uncomfortable position.

NPR and others at NPR who agree can't criticize or deny what she has said because it accurately represents their position.

Even those at NPR who disagree with what Shepard has said can not do so without admitting (to themselves and others) what an empty shell of a news organization NPR has become. "NPR reporting is vacuous and I'm damned proud to be part of it"

Porter Melmoth said...

I hope some of the new readers here will take some time to look back at the considerable archives of this blog. The evidence of NPR's true character has been overwhelming, and for the longest time.

Shepard's manifesto is right up there with the tobacco lobby's sworn, bald-faced belief that cigs are harmless. Like most attempts at lawyer-driven cleverness, the backfire factor is inevitable.

But it depends on what the word 'is' is...

Porter Melmoth said...

Like in the Garrells disaster, NPR will of course have to make a cover-the-ass acquittal statement to, um, attempt to do damage control concerning the Shepard Decree. I'm sure they're frantically calling Frank Luntz for emergency help (on the Red Phone) right now.

Fasten you seat belts, gang, it might be good.

Porter Melmoth said...

...Oh, and Dick Cheney's surely making some extra bucks advising a helpless NPR on what torture really isn't.

Anonymous said...

But it depends on what the word 'is' is...

I too immediately thought of that phrase when I read the Shepard piece.

In the "New Journalism" (Orwell's Newspeak), there is no objective "Truth". It's whatever you make it.

One woman's torture is another woman's pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Kevan Smith says "The influx of Greenwald's readers to the ombudsman's comments is going to be counterproductive...Instead of taking the criticism to heart, they will twist it to prove to themselves that they hold the correct position."

The thing to do is to direct any comments not to NPR itself (which is really a waste of time and effort) but to NPR member stations that rely on listener donations to keep going. That will be more effective.

The only way NPR will ever change is if member stations pressure it to change by discontinuing their purchase of programming like ATC and ME.

biggest!pinkest!fuzziest!bunniest! said...

"And in our next segment, Alicia Shepard agrees to be waterboarded - Anne Garrels files this report..."

Anonymous said...

Shorter Alicia Shepard:

"Torture, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder*"

*especially when it involves a sharp poking stick.

JayV said...

Wow, 211 comments over at Alicia Shephard's post. Love this one:

NPR is a great source of news for comfortable, middle-class, over-educated people who enjoy “nice things" and don’t like to be bothered with nasty facts like torture. Sort of the Easy Listening station of the news business.

Anonymous said...

the Easy Listening station of the news business.

Elevator News?

NPR = "National Paternoster Radio"

From wikipedia
"A paternoster or paternoster lift is a passenger elevator which consists of a chain of open compartments (each usually designed for two persons) that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping. Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like."

move "slowly in a loop up and down...Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like"?

Seems to fit NPR to a tee:

Dr Steve Frankinskeep: Well, dear, are you ready?
Meeshill: Yes, Doctor.
Dr Steve Frankinskeep: Elevate me.
Meeshill: Now? Right here?
Dr Steve Frankinskeep: Yes, yes, raise the platform.
Meeshill: Oh. Ze platform. Oh, zat, yah, yah... yes.

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it, given what "pater noster" means in latin ("Our Father") with all of its connotations (Fatherland, etc), the moniker "National Paternoster Radio" is especially appropriate for NPR.


I think this was a wake up call to a lot of listeners who have overlooked NPR conversion to FOX lite.

The only problem, the Salon posters are so polite and well written,it makes me appear even more shrill.

Good job NPR watch!

Anonymous said...

This letter from the ombotspeaker (posted on Greenwald's blog) was amusing:

Dear Listeners;

Ms. Shepard is out of the office this week [at least and maybe longer, depending on how long it takes for the brouhaha over her "Tortured Logic" piece to die down]. I work closely with her [in the main ombotsroom at National Propaganda Radio] and have been keeping up with all of your comments [I read a couple] . Rest assured that when she returns she will respond to you [as she responds on every other issue that NPR listeners comment on: in the capacity of an official PR representative for NPR, excusing everything that NPR shills...I mean journalists say on air]

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that there is someone [the Ombotspeaker] on the other end reading and receiving [automatically recording and scanning] your phone calls and emails [though my memory banks will only hold 1kb of data so keep those comments short]


The Ombotspeaker

Office of the Ombotswoman
Ombot Central,
National Propaganda Radio

PO Box 66, Washington DC

Kevan Smith said...

Alicia Shephard posted her blog on torture Sunday night then went on a week's vacation Monday. How convenient! I'm pretty sure she knew it would be a tendentious piece, but not that Glen Greenwald would pick up on it and drum up so much traffic and commentary. Do you you think she posted it thinking she'd just do it, give the 'usual suspects' time to vent, then return ready to move on as if nothing had happened?

b^p^f^b^ said...

In this age of tweetly-tweetly tweets, my friends, 'Botsy can't possibly be blissfully oblivious to the hornet's nest that has so judiciously, deliciously been stirred.

Anonymous said...

The other day some of the NPR drones were discussing the fact that "40 news agencies" had conspired to keep teh kidnapping of Root(?) a secret. NPR was proud that they were in the mix but then the guest just went and messed it all up by saying she didn't think it was such a good thing because . . . "What else would the 40 agencies . . ." conspire to cover-up?

Every once in a while they get sucker-punched.


Anonymous said...

I donate to my local library.


Anonymous said...

Their defenses won't be "impenetrable" if they are hit with a lawsuit which could blow the doors wide open as to what goes on behind closed doors. I also think the ACLU should maybe brought into this, since NPR still gets taxpayer money, but refuses to adopt the majority view on things or even give the majority of its listeners and contributors a public airing. They haven't even read any of the negative comments and letters on the air. This is censorship of the public opinion, pure and simple!