Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Shepard Unplugged

Glenn Greenwald updates Alicia Shepard's continued defense of the indefensible - NPR's decision to adopt euphemisms when discussing torture committed by agents of the US government/military. On KUOW's "Conversation" Shepard says the the following:
"I agree with people that when you say 'enhanced interrogation techniques' that is taking the side of particularly the Bush administration and then when you use the word 'torture' you are taking the opposite side." [How's that for intellectual rigor? I bet she could get a job teaching ethics to future journalists with that kind of brilliance.]
Then when she is asked why NPR referred - without qualifications - to a Gambian journalist as being tortured she responds, (brace yourself),
"...these were strictly tactics to torture him, to punish him, versus these in the United States in the way that it's used these are tactics used to get information."
Hey, not only could she get a teaching gig, I bet she could get a job being an apologist for some media outlet that serves as a mouthpiece for the Pentagon, the White House, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the....

As Greenwald notes, Shepard will be coming out of her rabbit hole to make a public appearance at the Newseum this weekend...wish I could be there.


Porter Melmoth said...

I'm listening to the KUOW piece right now. I'm not trying to be funny when I say, Alicia Shepard sounds like she's on drugs - prescription, psychotropic, lithium, beta blockers, beverage alcohol, recreational, or whatever. But I think she is, because of her flat delivery, relaxed monotone, and completely retarded reasoning give my hunch credibility. That goes for many, many others at NPR as well. Drugs. I invite you to ponder the matter.

(Curious, that Shepard calls herself 'ombudsman' instead of 'ombudsperson'...)

Anonymous said...

"...these were strictly tactics to torture him, to punish him, versus these in the United States in the way that it's used these are tactics used to get information."

Is Shepard channeling George W. Bush?

If not, I bet she could get hired by Saturday Night Live to do Bush impersonations. She's got the routine down pat, gibberish and all.

Porter: if they're on drugs, it must be a bummer batch or something.

Anonymous said...

So, if those who tortured the Gambian journalist had been trying to "get information" instead of "punish", it would have been "harsh questioning" rather than "torture"?

"Legal interrogation" vs a "war crime"?

"Alles Klar, Mein Fuehrer"

Wir werden nor Information suchen.

Anonymous said...


should have been nur (not nor)

Kevan Smith said...

Porter, on the interview she gave from vacation, she sounded kind of out of it, too. If she's ill and taking medicine, that's nothing to hold against her.

geoff said...

Kevan, True. She may be on smack on account of taking way too much "flack" for NPR. What about going after the board? What about Vivian Schiller? Let's get these people to explain why they're making Shepard stake out absurd double speak. Maybe she's seen what happened to Zwerdling and Edwards and doesn't want to lose her job.

On the other hand, what she did to Gary Webb is sufficient to conclude she's a willing partner in actions which are notably foolish (NewSpeak for idiotic.)

geoff said...

How about this excerpt from a WaPo flier soliciting lobbyist underwriting at a price of $.25M/lobbyist:

"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier.”Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders."

You don't think NPR does anything like that, do you?

Porter Melmoth said...


I would never hold legitimate drug usage against anybody, any time. Thing is, if one is going to participate in the propagation of - well, propaganda, one either has to be a true believer, or one has to be put up to the job via other means. Drugs can help soften the stress, or contribute to it (e.g. Michael Jackson, for one). I imagine Shepard's stress is terrible, yet, she's taking this thing on like she's a true believer, even though she attempts to acquit herself by saying it's not her policy, but NPR's.

I think she's in this way over her head. If she's not a true believer, she's still a participant. Perfect for those above her: that she takes the heat for them. Perhaps it's not drugs. Perhaps she's just not that bright.

Porter Melmoth said...

I am hesitant to fuel a conspiracy theory about drug usage at NPR, but I must say, those in the media come across as if they are all on the straight and narrow, and sobriety is practiced at all times, and all the actors in the action news world operate in a drug-free zone and have just said No to all 'temptation'. But who says that’s the case? We, the audience, operate within an honor system, assuming that media people are on the level. (Except we who endeavor to look below the surface.)

Who could detect that Rush Limbaugh was ripped on OxyContin? These people, whether it's Limbaugh or an NPR hack, have slickness in their skill sets, which includes the ability to put on a bit of a show when it's needed.

I'm just entertaining the idea that you can get away with a lot on radio, because it operates from behind a curtain, just like the Wizard of Oz.

(I worked in show business for a time, and it isn't just Larry Olivier who could put on a great show, despite the fact that he'd just puked his guts out backstage before the curtain rose... But Olivier was a great actor. Many of these pop performers just pose, and posing gets easier the more you do it.)

Anonymous said...

I am genuinely puzzled by Shepard's apparent willingness to act as an apologist for an NPR policy that is CLEARLY INCONSISTENT (if nothing else)

I think Shepard would have been much wiser to have admitted this from the getgo and said something like "I have brought this inconsistency to the attention of NPR management and THEY will be addressing the issue pronto".

That would have put the onus on others to do the "explaining" (excuse-making), as it should be.

I seriously doubt she would have "lost her job" over that. After all, that's whet her job is supposed to be about!

If NPR DID fire her over such legitimate criticism, it would just make them look even worse in the eyes of their listeners -- basically confirm the fact that they are not being honest in this whole affair.

Besides, from my understanding, Shepard's 2 year stint as ombudsman is over in just a few months, anyway, so I can not imagine that there is much concern on her part of being "fired".

Shepard seems to be "falling on the sword", as it were, for an organization that she will no longer be with in the near future.

That makes no sense, particularly since she would be far more likely to help her own career by actually holding NPR to account -- ie, DOING her job as ombudsman.

...unless, that is, Shepard has been offered some other job with NPR. Then this all makes some sense from Shepard's viewpoint, at least.

Anonymous said...

One more thing puzzles me about Shepard's behavior in all this.

My guess (and it is just that) is that there are some people at NPR (particularly ones who have been there a long time) who are not at all happy about the "detour" (off the cliff) that NPR has taken in recent years and recognize that the "torture" newspeak is merely a symptom of this much bigger problem.

These people are undoubtedly LOOKING for an issue that can be used as a lever to CHANGE NPR back into something closer to the form it originally had -- ie, a news organization that offered a legitimate alternative to the mainstream.

Shepard could EASILY have tapped into that sentiment and then stepped aside and let others do the rest.

That's what an ombudsman is supposed to do: present the concerns of the public (which are probably ALSO the concerns of some journalists at NPR) and then let NPR work it out among themselves.

An ombudsman is NOT supposed to be a "mediator" and certainly not supposed to be an "apologist" for management (which appears to be the case here)

larry, dfh said...

Anon, I can see the possibility of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but if you read the link which Gopol posted about the character (and probably physical) assassination of Gary Webb, you will see that shepard is a self-serving, morally devoid creep, and is really doing nothing but spouting the agency line for her own benefit, as she has always done.

Anonymous said...

"[Shepard] is really doing nothing but spouting the agency line for her own benefit, as she has always done."

..but that's just it. Unless she is already slated to move into another job at NPR (or maybe at Fox news) when her ombudsman job ends in just a few months, her apologies for NPR are NOT benefiting her at all.

In fact, I'd bet that just the opposite is true: they are hurting her.

Whether one buys her line about journalism (that it is all about presenting both sides and letting the listener/reader decide) or not, it's clear to anyone who reads and listens to the stuff she has written and said on this issue that she's simply not consistent. In fact, much of what she has said and written is downright incoherent.

It's hard to see how that will benefit her when she is looking for another job.

I'd say that quite the opposite is probably true. the more she says/writes, the more she hurts herself.

As far as the Webb thing, I'm familiar with that and what was done to him is despicable, in my opinion. Even if he had been wrong (and i don't think he was), there would be no excuse for the kinds of things Shepard and others did.

Finally, I don't give Shepard any "benefit of the doubt". I base my views purely on what she has said and written. That might not be "fair" (and balanced?), but in the absence of any further information, it's the best approach, in my opinion.

RepubLiecan said...

Well, I guess we will get NPR's official description of the duties and responsibilities of their ombudsman this weekend when Ms. Shepard enlightens us. I only hope it's as logical and enthralling as her explanation of the NPR policy regarding using the word torture.

Shorter Alicia Shepard: When they do it, it's torture, when we do it's a tactic.

Does she even realize the hole she's dug for herself and won't someone at NPR tell her to STOP DIGGING?

Anonymous said...

Our world/society demands that adults have money to survive. For most this means a job. In the contemporary media that means disseminating the lies and/or propaganda your employers require. Fail to provide it and your survival will be at risk.

For thoughtful, moral individuals the requirement to act immorally and the threat to your survival if you don't is a conflict that is often expressed as illness and/or remedied by drugs.

One can only feel empathy for those caught up in these conflicts and a deep dislike for and distrust of those controlling such a system.

Anonymous said...

Does she even realize the hole she's dug for herself"

I don't think she does.

"and won't someone at NPR tell her to STOP DIGGING?"

I doubt it.

What incentive do they have for doing so?

Vivian Schiller would obviously let Shepard take the heat than to have herself doing so, which, in my opinion, is cowardly in the extreme.

Whether you agree with Shepard or not (I certainly don't), you have to give her this much: she is not a coward like Schiller and the rest of NPR's management.

In essentially hanging Shepard out to dry, Schiller is behaving very unethically, in my opinion.

Some of these Ivy league types (Schiller is a Cornell Alum) are like that. I know. I went to Cornell with a bunch of them. They will basically stab you in the back if they think it will benefit their own career. It is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

There is a possibility that is hard to comprehend but . . . what if Shepard actually believes the bilge? Perhaps she does believe that Americans don't torture. She is a staunch defender of American exceptionalism (who isn't at media outlets when it comes down to it) and I think she breathes it.


Anonymous said...

That's a possibility, edk, except Shepard has said that she believes that water-boarding IS torture

...and if she also believes that the Bush admin waterboarded people (and you'd have to be an absolute moron to deny something that even they have admitted), then it would seem that you would also have to believe that America HAS actually tortured people. Ie, America DOES torture.

Then again, based on what Shepard has written and said, I'm not sure logic is really her thing, so I suppose anything is possible.

Anonymous said...

I believe Ms. Shepard is now using members of her "journalism class". When she talks about Healthyville segment she is frequently challenged by NewsSkeptic. There was a call for NPR to bar NewsSkeptic from Krystina Lucido who just happens to be working toward her Masters in Journalism from Georgetown. I wonder. . . Nah, Krystina certainly must have decided to defend an instructor at her university on her own. This intriques me since I think many of NPR collaterals (callers, subjects etc) are "plants"

My first suspect is Amir calling from Iran who shows up frequently on TOTN.

I found another peson that was used by Shepard on something or other and when I googled and went to her FaceBook page found a bunch of people named Innskeep. Not a common name to be sure and three of them showed up on her page as "friends".

I got way too much time on my hands people. I need a job!


Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that NPR uses plants.

Combined with pre-screens, it automatically gives them the "agreeing" audience they want (and that their corporate sponsors want).

Like Fox, NPR is one big circle jerk...with Alicia Shepard in the center.

It wasn't always that way....

They used to have Dvorkin in the center.

Anonymous said...

when I googled and went to her FaceBook page found a bunch of people named Innskeep. Not a common name to be sure and three of them showed up on her page as "friends".

There is more than one "Inskeep"?

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more like "Shepard Unhinged".

The Guess Who even wrote a song about her

She's come undone
She didn't know what she was headed for
And when she found what she was headed for
It was too late

It's too late
She's gone too far
She's lost the sun
She's come undone.'

Of course, credit for the all time classic about Shepard goes to Jefferson Airplane: "Go ask Alicia"

"When the men on the water board
get up and tell you where to go
And you just saw some kind of mushroom cloud
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alicia
I think she'll know"