Friday, July 24, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.



Any one catch the Morning edition report on the arrest of Professor Gates by Chris Arnold. I thought it was a textbook of NPR's deferential uncritical reporting on government authority.

1) Is Chris Arnold really that stupid? He repeatedly quotes the police report as if it is an unbiased source. Chris? Hello? THE REPORT WAS PREPARED BY OFFICER CROWLEY, it should be viewed as self serving, but not to Chris he quotes it like its the Gospel.

2) Chris your second paragraph is one sided, only reflect the officer's version of events, and omits numerous facts the relevant to the case, (e.g. the office following Gates into the house without permission.)

3) "Crowley, 42, is married with three kids and coaches youth basketball. Fellow officers, a public defender and state politicians have been coming forward to vouch for him, calling him a nice guy and a good cop, and saying they strongly doubt that race played a role in his actions." Ignoring the fact that journalistic the number of childern Crlowly has is irrelevant to the story, so how come there's no mention of Professors Gates prominent and respected position in the Harvard community? How many kids does Gates have?

4) Gee Chis: Who would have guessed that Crowley's high school buddie would defend the him?

5) Nice finish too, end with a heroic portrait of Crowley.

Gates, he appears to be just another angry black man of no consequence.

Anonymous said...

Ditto that Grumpy


JayV said...

Yeah, I heard it this morning and after reading Grumpy's comment, there were only 5 comments, Grumpy's being one of the first; now it's up to 45 and man, oh, man, are they telling. It's reported that Crowley had was a racial profiling instructor. Seems he should take that course again! What's unspoken is the role of police to protect the power structure, which in this country is to protect white privelege.

Porter Melmoth said...

And in their hearts, who do you think the target NPR listener-and-obeyer would side with, a family values cop, or a radical, wigged-out, and POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS professor of color?

In their hearts, they know that NPR is always right.

Mytwords said...

Thanks Grumpy for the great points. I went ahead and posted on the NPR site, too.

JayV said...

Yeah, my comment @ NPR appears right under Mytwords's.

Anonymous said...

I found our friend Juan Williams taking the police officer's side. Not profiling but rather a "misunderstanding" according to Juan who claims this kind of stuff happens to him also. And that is really a drag cause you would think that if any one has earned the right to be immune from such abuses of power by the protectors of the same people Williams finds "worthy" and protects it would be Juan Williams.


Porter Melmoth said...

I just flung this to NPR World HQ:

For a news organization that supposedly prides itself in knowing the world, I found Steven Inskeep's attempt at a morning filler chuckle (Morning Edition, 7/24/09) to be repulsive and stupid. I am referring to his bemused reference to daughters of Indian farmers appearing nude in their fields, in order to embarrass the Rain God into bringing rain. Inskeep's nuance was plainly mocking, though processed through a cleverly 'gentle' route, e.g. 'how quaint and comic'. I can assure you, this comic-sounding (to comfortable Western ears) gesture on the part of farmers in India is nothing short of an act of desperation. In an environment where whole groups of farmers have committed suicide en masse because they are powerless against the forces of drought and poverty, it is no wonder that they resort to exhortations to higher forces. India's spiritual culture is deep and profound, and it still eludes the shallow interpretations of the Western media. I daresay, if your own Philip Reeves covered such a story, it would be no joke, as his understanding of South Asia is one of NPR News' rare bright spots.

Making sport of this gesture is yet another example of NPR News' casual and cavalier attitude towards aspects of the world that differ from their perspectives of privilege and power, so often displayed through bland humor and ersatz 'sensitivity'. I can well understand why Sarah Chayes quit your dubious outfit, so long ago now. Hopefully you will recall who she is and why she quit.

(A note on nudity and Indian culture: modesty is observed in most social situations, especially when women are involved. However, in a civilization unashamed of the human form, nudity might occur as a result of extreme poverty or via acts of religious devotion, which the event in question obviously was. Similarly, devotees of the Digambar sect of the Jain religion eschew clothing of all kinds.)

Porter Melmoth said...

...I wanted to add: 'Put that in your prescription drug vial and pop it'. But I didn't.

Kevan Smith said...

I know this is an NPR blog, but ....

Is anyone listening to The Takeaway?

It partners WGBH, the BBC and the NYT. It was designed to compete with ME.

What do you think of it?

I'm not that impressed with it, but I like it more than ME.

Jay Schiavone said...

Weird report about SBC and its stubborn refusal to allow female pastors, based upon scriptural grounds. Bradley made reference to acceptance of female pastors as "tacking leftward." Am I alone in being baffled by NPR's insistence of plotting every topic on a dubious scale of right and left? Apostle Paul, apparently was a republican, because he denied women authority. Jesus, though, was a Democrat, probably the tax and spend kind, what with all his purported empathy. Every f---ing story panders to the sensitivities of the dwindling republican party, even coverage of the dwindling southern baptist convention.

Porter Melmoth said...

Here's the response to my haughty, angry, snarky, shitty-attitude message I sent to NPR (slightly annotated):

"Dear Haughty, Angry, Snarky, Shitty-attitude NPR Listener and Subscriber,

We regret if our programming has not met your expectations. Your thoughts will be taken into consideration.

Each week nearly 26 million people turn to NPR for thoughtful, informed journalism along with music and entertainment programming. Whether tuning in via a local public radio station or logging-on to, we are committed to providing listeners with the best possible reporting. There is no room for bias anywhere in our newsroom.

What you hear on the air, or on, is governed by a strong code of ethics and practices. These standards are in place to protect and support the integrity, impartiality and conduct of our journalists. We encourage you to review the code, which is posted online at

Additionally, your message has been forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is the public's representative to NPR, serving as an independent source of information, explanation, amplification and analysis for the public regarding NPR's programming. For more information about the role of the NPR Ombudsman, please visit

NPR Services
(202) 513-3232

NPR encourages you to support your favorite public radio station. Please visit, select your station, and make a financial contribution.

NPR invites you to join its audience advisory panel, NPR Listens. Learn more at"

geoff said...

There is no room for bias anywhere in our newsroom.

Why devote a special room for bias when you can just have it all the rooms.

JayV said...

Porter, yeah, funny that response. NPR still want your money, though.

I've joined the NPR listens panels just to irritate and hustle 'em to do a better job. Haven't received a questionnaire in a while, though.

geoff said...

I'm not a big fan of Rahmbo Emanuel but I was pulling for him in the interview with Inskeep. He had that "we'll break your kneecaps later - off camera" kinda tone which brought on Insky's nervous laugh.

It may be that, in a broadcast slated for ATC today, Scott Horsley is covering single payer more than ever before - now that it's probably too late. He's giving Kucinich some play (though he calls his presidential run "quixotic" - I guess when GE conspires to keep you out of the debate, it can be tough) and has on an "expert," Peter Harbage, who twists the metaphor of SP being "taken off the table" by saying it was never on the table. Wtf table are they talking about? Harbage appears to be a Schwarzenegger advisor, which may explain why it isn't mentioned that the Governator vetoed the single payer legislation passed by the CA legislature...twice.

miranda said...

Thanks for the report, Grumpy. I'm amazed by how many people, not just media whores but commenters on supposedly liberal blogs, LOVE THEM some police power, baby! What is it that makes citizens -- the ones most vulnerable to unchecked state aggression -- want to align themselves with the oppressors? Oops, I think I just answered my own question.

empty said...

Dean Baker provides a critique of ME's coverage today of the increase in the minimum wage. He ends with

The impact of a rise in the minimum wage on employment is one of the most heavily researched topics in economics. Virtually all of this research shows that it will have little or no impact on employment. It would have been useful if the news reports had mentioned this research instead of treating this topic as a he said/she said, implying that those who claim that it will lead to large rises in unemployment are on an equal footing with those who emphasize the benefits to low wage earners. Reporters should have the time and expertise to find the evidence on this issue, readers do not.

Porter Melmoth said...

Something new in the NPR treatment of their audience: the sender of the response to the comment I posted above was listed as 'NPR - Listener Care'. No reference to the mythological entity branded 'Kristen', who signed it.

'NPR - Listener Care'! It's got that snappy Big Pharma sound to it. Single-payer, maybe?

Your Caring, Sharing NPR (TM)

(Copyright of everything NPR held by Luntz & Associates International)

Anonymous said...

I don't know about anyone else, but after the way he has double-crossed the people who voted for him over the past few months, I'm kind of enjoying watching Obama insert his foot in his mouth and self-destruct politically.

With unemployment almost certain to be still hovering near 9-10% (or above) in 2012 and alienation of groups like police, he'll be lucky to get much more than the African American vote in 2012.

He's had more than his fair chance to back up all his talk of "change" with ACTION -- but like a dud firecracker, he has simply fizzled out.

The man is ALL talk, little more than a con artist.

Anonymous said...

It's good that someone knowledgeable like Dean baker is finally calling NPR out on their economic BS.

They have gotten away with it for far too long.

Now, if we just had an expert in each of the other areas in which NPR regularly spreads manure.

Unfortunately, there are so many areas (and just one NPR individual like Inskeep can spread so much manure), it would take a veritable army or experts to keep them honest.

geoff said...

Kestenbaum was in full willful ignorance mode this morning, as I recall. I present the transcript as it's own commentary. We start with Wortheimer's smug trill:

LW: "Here to talk about how big a trillion dollars is is DK:

DK: It is funny how things change. For me, I can't get my head around how big a trillion dollars is, so I asked a guy who does this for a living: Bill Gale, he's an economist at the Brookings Institution:

BG: A trillion dollars is definitely a lot of money, even if we're already spending a trillion dollars on things like the financial bailout, the economic stimulus package and so on. We shouldn't get inured to the idea that if we have to spend it then it's not a huge amount of money.

DK: So here are some comparisons that might help. Health insurance bill would be a trillion dollars over ten years, so that would be $100B/year. $100B/year is six times larger than NASA's budget, so you can imagine creating another 5 NASAs.

LW: But compared to the Iraq war?

DK: $100B is roughly the cost of the Iraq war. I think the best comparison is to look at what the US government is actually spending on health care right now and Medicare and Medicaid and subsidies and that number is about a trillion dollars per year. So adding another $100B is about a 10% increase. So for a 10% increase you get pretty much universal health care.

LW: Pr. Obama said in his presser this week that not fixing health care would also be unacceptably expensive.

BHO: [yada yada]

DK: So there are two challenges here. One is expanding care coverage, and the bill definitely does that. [] The second challenge is bringing costs down and that is the train wreck which is down the tracks. Here's Kent Smethers, who used to work at the CBO:
now at Wharton, U Penn's business school.

KS If we limited every single government program, the military, education, roads, everything except SS and Medicare we would not have enough money left over to pay for SS and Medicare.

{I think that's what he said, but wtf?}

DK: And of those two, Medicare is by far the big dog.

LW: But David, aren't you saying that you'd run into this [] whether you passed Obama's health care reform or you didn't?

DK: Yes, that train wreck is coming, and the question is, what [] does this bill do [] to help rein in costs. Because right now this bill is going to increase costs, adding more people to the system, and [] Peter Orzag [] said that this bill [doesn't answer that question.] If you ask the CBO, there's just not a lot of data on what works, it's hard to say what the plan is. []

geoff said...

oops. It's Kent Smetters at Wharton - also of AEI and a hired gun for killing SS.

From wiki:

From 2001 to 2002, Smetters was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Economic Policy, in the US Department of Treasury. Professor Smetters has written on government debt and social security policy and has a strong interest in analyzing relationships between the economic wellbeing of the elderly and their social, legal, psychological, physical, and environmental well-being. [1][2] He is a visiting scholar of the American Enterprise Institute.

Professor Smetters has written about the need for insurance industry reform and supports the notion that the private sector should provide terrorism insurance or protection instead of government.[3]

They get some half clever bastards to chirp into the phone for them, don't they?

Porter Melmoth said...

Applause for supplying us with the gruesome transcript, Gope.

Like most everything else coming from the hostile galaxy that produces life forms from Planet Moneygrub, there's plenty of dubiousness afoot when DK, in his accountant's guise, sums up the Iraq Pustule at a trim 100 bills. It's obviously in the trills, but that's the big, wet, fetid excrement in the room... NPR daintiness forbids acknowledgment of such filth. (Tallies from Af-Pak will be similarly sanitized, of course.)


Good job Gope,

That was my second least favorite report from ME today.

Imagine that: A business reporter that can not fathom a trillion dollars?

NPR ignores; doesn't care; can't remember? W excellent adventure in Iraq is going to cost well over a trillion, but that's OK the money's going to multi- national's like Kuwait based Halliburton.

miranda said...

empty, I was appalled but not surprised by the ATC feature on how raising the minimum wage DOESN'T NECESSARILY HELP PEOPLE. Incredible that they are still spreading this -- yes, manure.

Anonymous said...

Today Scott Simon allowed Juan Williams to continue his "White-Deference Tour 2009" on the show this morning. Simon starts by heaping praise on Williams as an authentic scholar regarding "race in America". Williams goes on and says Gates over re-acted and if he had just showed a bit more "white-deference" everything would have been everything. After all it has worked for Juan and so he passed it on to his children.

I think this is an old arguement in the "black community" going back to at least Carver. It has continued through to the present when Rice and Powell using that strategy for survival (taught to them by parents?) rose. Not adopting that strategy can be fatal.

They never paused to ask how it must feel to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world, the beacon of hope and freedom, and a bastion of the defense of liberty according to both of them and yet . . . and yet you got to teach your kids "white deference"?

Wonder what the Ombud will have to say about it?


ivb said...

edk, Do you really think the (we don't say torture, we use Bush talking points and let people decide) ombudsman will say anything?

I agree with you about the discussion between Simon and Williams. I was shocked at the lack of perspective. They had the facts wrong after accusing Obama of not knowing the facts. Few things have made me as angry as that piece this morning.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I want a beer with the President -- to give him a piece of my mind -- on censorship of the torture photographs, non-prosecution of Bush officials involved in torture, the large number of civilians killed by drone attacks, trillion dollar handout to bankers with little to nothing of any significance given to ordinary Americans who are having trouble paying their electric, food and housing bills, and on and on.

I wonder, do I have to get arrested before I get that beer?

Anonymous said...


I think DK was talking about cost of Iraq war per year, but even so, that includes only the direct military costs (the money that has been allocated through supplemental funding $800 billion over 6 years, with a small fraction going to Afghanistan).

it completely ignores all the indirect costs like current and future disability payments to all the injured troops, replacement of armaments that were "used up' in the war, interest on the money borrowed to finance the war, etc.

As you rightly point out (and as people like Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz have laid out), the overall Iraq war cost will certainly be measured in the trillions even if it were to end today (Stiglitz has said it may cost 3 trillion before all is said and done)

Even assuming the wear goes on for another 4 years (10 years total), that would be $300 billion per year, 3 times Kestenbaum's number.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Wonder what the Ombud will have to say about it?

I'm guessing she won't be quoting WEB DuBois on the phenomenon o 'double consciousness.'

Wan Williams is such a sold-out piece of crap. He's ridden "Eyes on the Prize" just about as far as you can.

I turn off the radio when Wan is introduced on NPR, automatically.

AQnd I still think NPR is engging in a species of intellectual dishonesty by not identifying Wan's mixed loyalties as a prostate-licker for O'Reilly and Murdoch...

Anonymous said...

David Lat Describes His Panel at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

David is very polite. He did not mention the two "huh?" moments of his panel:

Nina Totenberg, saying that organizations that lead people to expect that they can get their news without paying for it or watching ads on it are destructive--organizations, that is, like the National Public Radio that pays her her salary...

Nina Totenberg again, saying that sometimes when she goes on the air in the afternoon she hasn't read the just-released-that-morning Supreme Court case she is talking about...

The Boss of You said...

Juan n' Scott were *unbelievable*. Juan described how he talks to the police when they come to his house without pausing to wonder why they were there to begin with blew my mind.

Anonymous said...

AQnd I still think NPR is engging in a species of intellectual dishonesty by not identifying Wan's mixed loyalties as a prostate-licker for O'Reilly and Murdoch...

Just one small part of the greater "Kingdom of Intellectual Dishonesty of NPR" -- "KIDN" for short

I'd bet that if you stacked them side by side, you would find that there are more dishonest species in the NPR Kingdom than species in nature.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, in A-hole Land (where A stands for "arrogant", of course) the A-holes celebrate the "End of the Recession" (for them, not us, of course)

If ever there was a reason for showing Obama the door in 2012, that picture is it.

Anonymous said...

I share in the disappointment over Obama's continuation and acceleration of the appalling Bush policies, but still: has our NPR-critique blog comment thread become an Obama-bashing board?

Anonymous said...

has our NPR-critique blog comment thread become an Obama-bashing board?"

1 comment out of 35 is an "Obama bashing board"?

That's the kind of "bashing board" that any politician could love.

Anonymous said...

oops, make that '2 out of 35."

I missed one.

Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

With MWT success, comes rewards. In this case, trolls. Perhaps soon, NPRCheck will be on the blog roll with TPM and Huff Post?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps soon, NPRCheck will be on the blog roll with TPM and Huff Post?

...and then the censorship will kick in and this blog will be no different from most of the rest.

gobbled up by the elite (which certainly includes Huffington Post)