Monday, November 23, 2009

Q Tips

I'm on break, but NPR related comments are still welcomed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Taking A Break

Hi folks. I'll be taking a bit of a break from blogging on NPR. Honestly, I'm a tad sick of listening to NPR news and documenting the same distortions, omissions, and flat out lies over and over again. Also my hands have to get some time away from the computer.

With the holidays approaching, this seemed like a good time as any to take some time off. If anyone wants to start their own NPR monitor blog, please do and send me the link so I can prominently post it.

My intention is to take a month or so off and then only post intermittently.

Peace and cheers,

Matthew Murrey (Mytwords)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Families are More Equal Than Others

(click the photo for the 9/11 families that NPR omits)

If you've listened to NPR's coverage of the Obama/Holder decision to send just five 9/11 suspects to New York for civilian trials, you've probably heard something about the families of 9/11 victims.

Wednesday's (Nov. 18th) ATC featured this clip:

Senator Jon Kyl (R., Arizona): "How could you be more likely to get a conviction in federal court when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has already asked to plead guilty before a military commission and be executed?"

Ari Shapiro: "In the audience, families of 9/11 victims applauded. Kyl's questioning became more pointed and for the first time in the hearing the perpetually cool attorney general seemed to get upset."

In case you missed the importance of the 9/11 families Dina Temple-Raston was hard at it the next morning.

Thursday's (Nov. 19th) ME:

Senator Jon Kyl (R., Arizona): "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has already asked to plead guilty before a military commission and be executed. How could you be more likely to get a conviction in an Article 3 court than that?"

Temple-Raston: "Families of the 9/11 victims in the audience applauded quietly before they were shushed by the chairman."

Kind of leaves the impression that all the 9/11 families want are the extralegal military commissions and some sort of hurried executions.

As in its coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, NPR is careful to avoid families who break from the official US/Pentagon script. I guess that's why - during the coverage of the proposed New York trial venue for the five suspects - we'll never hear from 9/11 families who WANT trials that uphold due process and the rule of law.

Given the rest of NPR's coverage of this Holder/Obama decision, the exclusion of critical 9/11 families is no surprise. NPR - as a proudly mainstream news outlet - has failed to put the Holder/Obama decision in its proper context. As Glenn Greenwald has so cogently noted, the Obama/Holder decision is little more than the "show trial" feature of a multitiered, irregular system of justice featuring some civilian trials, irregular military commissions, and Orwellian indefinite detention.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More from the Stupid Aisle

How would you complete the following sentence:
For nearly two years the US economy has been battered by a recession brought on by _________________.
I would guess most semi-informed people would mention the housing bubble and mortgage backed securities (unless you are so completely incompetent as to not know about the $8 trillion dollar housing bubble!). Somewhere in the discussion one would hope to hear about the sub-prime lending spree that hugely profited unscrupulous mortgage brokers and victimized many borrowers. Right?

Not if you're Liane Hansen chatting with Marilyn Geewax (get out the Q Tips!); according to Hansen the recession was brought on by "excessive borrowing - millions of people took on far too much mortgage debt or maxed out their credit cards." Yep, it was all those foolish Americans frivolously maxing out their credit cards and buying houses willy-nilly. At this point you hopefully gave NPR one of its well deserved Dial-away™ moments and switched to some other station, otherwise you were subjected to even more astute economic insights about Americans and their savings.

After Geewax explains that a study found that "about half of all Americans said they couldn't scrounge up $2000 even if they turned to their relatives for help," Hansen asks, "Why do so many people live on the financial edge?" A reasonable question. You might expect to hear something about depressed wages, exhorbitant health insurance fees, predatory lending, skyrocketing college expenses, union busting, etc. or as one of the commenters on the NPR site writes,
"This was a very poor presentation of the issue by NPR. Despite an introduction, followed by an interview, not a thing was said about American wages. They mention how generations ago, we had a greater savings rate, never mind that back then, families could live well on one income."
Geewax is not about to answer the question, but continues on with scolding the current generation of Americans,
"We've just sort of step by step, generation by generation, gotten more accustomed to this idea of easy credit...has lead to a kind of financial illiteracy, we don't read the fine print, we don't really think about compounding interest and so people kind of lost track of the financial risks..."
If all this weren't bad enough, Geewax and Hansen then turn the whole story into a condescending commercial for NPR. Geewax explains that to save up $2000, all a couple has to do is each "put $20 in a cookie jar every time they listen to Lianne Hansen on Sunday mornings, by the end of the year that couple would have $2000." Wow why didn't I think of that? Better yet, if everyone put a dollar in the cookie jar every time they heard something stupid on NPR news, we'd all be millionaires by years end!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm In the Stupid Aisle

Okay, Chana Joffe-Walt actually said, "I'm in the the soup aisle" as she spoke to her partner in inanity, David Kastenbaum on their Planet Money story on this Friday's ATC. NPR Check reader, Grumpy Demo, picks apart the Planet Monkeys latest effort in the Q Tips below and in the comments section of the NPR story:

I don't think NPR has ever packed more stupid into any single story, here's just a sample:

No. 1 There is no "Rule" that the same goods have to have the same price. This is not taught in ANY economics or business class. If you reporters weren't apparent economic illiterates and had attended at least one economics class you would have known that price is a function of supply and demand. In fact, this proves this imaginary NPR "Rule" is nonsense.

No. 2 The reporters compare prices of canned pasta and announce that a price of $1.00 is pretty close to a price of $1.09. NO IT'S NOT. There's a 9% difference in price, which is a significant difference (Would your reporters take 9% less in pay because its "pretty close"?) Less than a minute into the report, and the "Rule" doesn't work.

No.3 Most hospital are not businesses, they are non-profits, so contrary to your reporter's contention, their goal is to serve the public not achieve maximum profits.

No.4 Why does no one on Planet Money have the foggiest grasp of the concept in "inelastic demand"? Which proves that comparing health care to canned pasta is bogus.

No.5 Why does Planet (worship the)Money ALWAYS frame health economics terms of Right Wing Freeper world view? On Planet Money (and NPR) there is absolutely no moral component to health care. Which seems to explain your reporter being perplexed as to why an emergency room can't turn anyone away.

Please, please find someone at that understands basic math, I've given up on any hope of you finding someone that understands economics.

Doesn't NPR have editors?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Safe Port for Wade Goodwyn's Determination

Wade Goodwyn is NPR's point man for covering Tuesday's ceremony at Fort Hood. On Tuesday's ATC, Goodwyn does some creative reporting. In answering Melissa Block's question about what struck him most about the ceremony, Goodwyn reflects on the emotions of the event, offers praise for the stock patriotic sentiments of President Obama's speech, and then states,
"And for the soldiers, I think, renewed determination. They got hit at home and that has made plenty of these men and women angry."
Block asks if he spoke to any of the soldiers attending the ceremony and Goodwyn responds,
"I mean, there used to be a sense that this was a safe port; that's gone now. People here have a feeling that something valuable was stolen from them, like coming home and finding a thief rifling through the house, who has taken some of your most precious possessions."
Finally, Block asks about the issue of the accused shooter's Muslim faith. Goodwyn notes,
"certainly this kind of thing does not help our Muslims in uniform. Who knows what Major Hasan allegedly was trying to achieve with this act, but whatever that might've been, it did the opposite. It seems to me this has just hardened the Army's determination to achieve the missions. The shooting only facilitated the Western character of Muslims as violent extremists...."
Two issues in Goodwyn's comments really stand out. The first is his trumpeting of determination and missions. He claims that the massacre at Fort Hood has produced "renewed determination" in the soldiers. Determination to do what? Continue with the six year old supreme international crime called the Iraq War? Continue waging war and occupation in yet another country that doesn't want our troops there? Goodwyn conveniently never explains what this vague "determination" is for, but he returns to it and amplifies it as "the Army's determination to achieve the missions." Missions? Missions to do what? Are we supposed to believe that our nation's permanent war syndrome actually has some kind of missions (besides enriching the war industry and rotting away whatever liberal democratic principles remain)? Goodwyn's absurd logic would be laughable if it weren't so perverse: after admitting that Hasan's motive is unknown, he then proceeds to conclude that "whatever that might have been, it did just the opposite."

The second issue is Goodwyn's ridiculous assertion that Fort Hood was "a safe port." What planet has Goodwyn been living on? Did he do ANY research about Fort Hood (in Killeen, TX) - which has experienced previous carnage and - like all of the US military - is not a safe port for women. It's not surprising that Goodwyn ignores rape and sexual assault in the US military, since NPR news has not covered it (though the subject was featured on one NPR's Day to Day show in 2007 and found its way to NPR's website via The Nation).

Pierre Tristam, a writer for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, notes that
"The reality is that what Hasan did is a more American act than anything else. Killeen, of all places, has a history of violence, the kind of violence that is more essentially American than Arab or Muslim, just as terrorism's ground zero in the United States, before the World Trade Center, was Oklahoma City."
Tristam's work is what journalists are supposed to do. In contrast Goodwyn (as he did three years ago) does just the opposite: parrots the empty patriotic cliches of the Pentagon and the President, while ignoring relevant history and the underlying issues that really threaten what's left of our democratic principles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

(Be sure to notice the 2009 Weblog Awards link in the sidebar - any assists are appreciated!)

OMG! Only 45 Shopping Days Left

Monday meant that there were only 45 shopping days before Christmas, and NPR was in crass commercialism high gear.

If you were casually listening to Morning Edition, you might have thought NPR was reporting on its own newsreader stars - Montagne, Inskeep, Siegel, Norris, and Block -
"[They]...have names like Mr. Squiggles, Chunk, Pipsqueak....[and] are embedded with a computer chip so they can squeak, chirp and respond"
- and not the $10 MUST HAVE TOY of the season - computerized hamsters:

By the time All Things Considered [emphasis on Things] rolled around the cost level of the embedded commercials had gone up a notch.

Melissa Block spent more than 4 minutes with Omar Gallaga going over stuff like Motorola's Droid phone
[Gallaga]"'s a very kind of masculine metal dense in your hand, kind of feel, not curvy like the iPhone. So, I think it's definitely a good alternative to the iPhone. If I were shopping for something outside of the iPhone universe...."
Dell's newest thin laptop
[Gallaga] "I got some cuddle time with it as I like to call it....It's very, very thin....there's some very interesting design things going on...It all sounds good so far. But the downside is that it starts at $1799."
And a new video game starring Mickey Mouse
[Block] "Disney is going to be a using a video game to help reinvent, re-imagine one of its most beloved characters. The game is called Epic Mickey. What can you tell us about it?"
Fortunately Americans now have some way cool stuff to spend those unemployment benefits on. Are we feeling stimulated yet?

I see the product placements continue this morning (Tuesday) with Inskeep hawking Call of Duty 2 (No, not Obama's supposed Afghanistan war plans!), the video game.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related Precious Moments™ comments welcomed.

Election 2009 Trash Talk

If NPR's Repulican dominated discussions of the 2009 elections (e.g. Inskeep's Nov. 5 ME schmooze with Mike Murphy, Don Gonyea's afternoon friendly with Murphy, and Fox New/NPR "analyst" Liasson's lie fest with Frank Donatelli) have you scratching your head - it's nothing new. The 2006 national elections should have removed any doubts about NPR's rightwing tilt when it comes to electoral coverage; in 2006 NPR hammered away at the made-up claim that the clear repudiation of Republicans was actually a national call for bipartisanship.

I've posted below on Inkseep's pathetic interview with Murphy, and I was pleased to find a withering post at Daily Kos concerning Mara Liasson's hackery. Beyondleft writes,
"I didn't know it was possible to pack so many lies into a 5 minute radio report, but Mara Liasson surpassed my expectations."
Indeed! Besides flogging Liasson the dKos piece contains a link to Randy Lobasso's wrap up on the elections. It's about the best summary I've read. After reading it you can't help notice the utter lack of NPR/corporate media coverage of the John Garamendi victory in the CA-10 House race where a progressive democrat won a seat formerly held by a rightwing democrat. Guess that kind of result just doesn't fit in the GOP landslide - warning to Democrats spin that NPR and other conventional press outlets are trying to sell.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Inskeep Works Hard for the Money

On Thursday morning, Inskeep interviews Mike Murphy (the classy Republican strategist) about the huge, massive, overwhelming Democratic gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday evening - oops, that was in 2001 - I meant the similar 2009 Republican triumphs in those states that are a "slap in the face" to Obama and the Democrats.

For those of us living in the reality-based sphere, we recall that Obama and Democrats made all kinds of concessions for the stimulus bill - only to get NO Republican votes in the House. We remember that team Obama squelched single payer and backed corporate insurance "reform" only to have the Republican nihlists savage these timid reforms. And any of us who give a crap about the Constitution, are seriously disturbed by the extremist Bush-Obama efforts to enshrine the absolutism of the security state.

Keeping these troublesome facts in mind, consider the statements that were made by Mike Murphy as Steve Inskeep interviewed him this morning:
"...hopefully to have some Democrats now start thinking about a bipartisan approach, where they can sit down with Republicans and actually compromise, rather than asking Republicans to vote 99 percent Democrat and call that compromise."
Inskeep's challenge to this nonsense: "We'll talk about that a little bit, but I want to ask a little more about these elections...." When that "later" roles around, here's his big confrontation,"Why do you think, as you suggest, that these election results would cause Democrats in Washington and Congress to work a little more collaboratively with Republicans?" Yes, Inskeep just rolls over, and accepts the lie that Democrats have been obstructing bipartisanship and running roughshod over Republicans.

Seeing that Inskeep knows how to "work collaboratively" with him, Murphy states,
"Because I think the great mistake of the Obama they were elected as a bipartisan problem solver, almost a post-partisan politician. But from the day they've been in, they got a little drunk on the power and they've governed as a one-party liberal party....the Democrats, in my view, are governing too far to the left. They're losing the middle of the country...."
Drunk on power? One-party liberal party? Too far to the left? Seriously, did I miss the Democrats pushing for a Roosevelt-style jobs program? Was I sleeping when the Democrats insisted on pursuing single-payer health insurance, or a full public option open to all with no "triggers" or provisos attached? Are the Democrats seeking to have the Bush torture architects and practitioners investigated and tried? Did the banks get nationalized? Did the Pentagon budget get slashed?

And Inskeep's rejoinder? - "Now, when you say the Democrats should learn a lesson of not being too focused on health care, I mean, they're in it. I mean, they're going to try to pass a bill. How should this affect the health care debate for them?" In other words, NOTHING - no challenge, no fact check, no mention of the recent past. I guess that's how Inskeep earns that whopping $353,390 a year salary (+ $38,698 to "employee benefit plans") *[from page 57 of the NPR FY 2008 IRS 990 filing.]

*Or simply click on graphic at the top of this post to see the 5 highest paid NPR employees in 2008 - how Alex Chadwick fits in there is anybody's guess.

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bend It Like Beck - Ahem

"I've said it before, and I will reiterate it. NPR is a mainstream news outlet." - Alicia Shepard, Nov. 2, 2009

I have to hand it to NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, when she posts on her blog, she really knows how to put ugly out there. This was manifest in her June21, 2009 defense of not calling torture torture and her similarly enhanced defense of the same on June 30, 2009. If you've not read Glenn Greenwald's critique of Shepard on this matter, it is well worth the read.

On her Monday, Nov. 2 post, Shepard's back with a doozy, distorting her critics' positions and selectively misquoting herself in order to defend her stated desire to have MORE conservative voices on NPR news.

Shepard is writing about a complaint she received regarding comments she made on the Kojo Nmadi show on the Washington, DC public radio affiliate, WAMU. A caller had just hung up after noting - with examples - that NPR's usual range of experts/pundits ranged from the hard right to slightly left of center at best. Shepard's response (starting at about the 42 minute mark) was telling:
"Public radio listeners are very passionate about what they hear...people hear things selectively....people hear groups that they think shouldn't be on NPR and then they latch on to that and I think that's just how we're wired as human beings..."
and then comes
" I think NPR could do a better job? I think of having more conservative voices on NPR ah, you know rather than saying that they pander to conservatives, I just think some of the conservative names Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck. I mean when Glenn Beck is on NPR I can be assured that there will be a lot of emails about that, and I feel like, 'Hey you should hear what Glenn Beck has to say. You know, like it or not, he is influential.' "
It's crucial to note that there is absolutely nothing in Shepard's on-air comment indicating that she thinks it's important to report on the views of people like Beck and Limbaugh - to hold their statements up to facts and to explore the phenomenon of the popularity of hate and misinformation news-opinion shows. Is there any other way to interpret Shepard's remarks, except to conclude that she believes more conservative voices such as Beck and Limbaugh should be on NPR?

And so she received an angry email from a listener who wrote,
"I was outraged by your comment today on the Kojo Nnamdi program that NPR should have more people like Glenn Beck who represent a certain point of view not heard on NPR."
Seems like a pretty open and shut case of Ombudsman says something stupid and unethical, gets caught, and should issue an apology/retraction. Not in Shepard's "Beck and Me" land. First she whines,
"Usually I am the one examining those on air, and now I know how it feels to be on the other side of the mic, where it is perceived that I did something wrong."
Then she selectively edits her statement from the WAMU show,
"When Glenn Beck is on NPR I can be assured that there will be a lot of emails about that, and I feel like, 'Hey you should hear what Glenn Beck has to say. You know, like it or not he is influential.' " [Notice how she removes the damning opening to her statement "...I think of having more conservative voices on NPR ah, you know rather than saying that they pander to conservatives, I just think some of the conservative names Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.]
And finally she distorts her critic's opinion so that it is easier to dismiss,
"That quote does not indicate that I think Beck should be on NPR every day..."
It's worth re-reading the complaint she's referring to: "I was outraged by your comment today on the Kojo Nnamdi program that NPR should have more people like Glenn Beck who represent a certain point of view not heard on NPR." Is there anything in that quote alleging that Shepard wants Beck on NPR every day?

I can't think of a column that makes a stronger case for what I've been attempting to show in this blog - NPR news is indistinguishable from the pandering-to-power corporate/mainstream media news outlets in this country. Alicia Shepard - with her thirty years of journalism experience! - says it better than me:
"I've said it before, and I will reiterate it. NPR is a mainstream news outlet. Its duty is to inform the public of all that is going on - and that means airing voices and stories that many listeners might not like or agree with."
This begs the question of just what unique perspective or qualities NPR contributors are getting for their donations that they can't get on CNN, FOX, etc.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

An Afghanistan Strategy That Works

"But the big fool said to push on." - (click photo for graphic source)

Is Sorya Sarhaddi Nelson really and truly in Afghanistan? I've heard her interviewed the last day or so regarding the fortunes of of the US debacle in Afghanistan - in light of the non-runoff runoff and the "victory" of Hamid Karzai - and I can't say I've learned anything from it.

Nelson was on ATC Monday talking to Michelle Norris and this exchange occurred:
Norris: "With Hamid Karzai now declared the official winner of the presidential election, to what degree does that now solve the political uncertainty in Afghanistan?"

Nelson: "Well, for the West it gives them - in particular, President Obama - a green light to move ahead in redefining and setting an Afghanistan strategy that works, in terms of international involvement here. But the question remains whether Afghans will accept this government as a legitimate one. I think much can be forgiven, including the fraud, in a very lengthy and disappointing election process if in fact the new Karzai administration delivers services and delivers security, which is what people here are really wanting."
Keep that little nugget in mind as you read Tony Karon's brutal assessment of Sen. Kerry's mission to Afghanistan where he rather publicly retied the strings to the wayward US puppet - and was hailed as some kind of diplomacy wizard by "the spoon fed media."

Or consider Nelson's open ended optimism ("a strategy that works, in terms of international involvement there" and "whether Afghans will accept this government as a legitimate one") as you read just the first two or three paragraphs of Tom Engelhardt's depressing assessment of where things stand in Afghanistan and how the US is likely to proceed there.

Or consider Gareth Porter's Halloween article in the Asia Times about the US-warlord ties.

Can anyone in her right mind still pretend that there is a US-led Afghanistan strategy that works, or that the Afghan people (whoever that vague constituency is) will come around to welcome the US-Karzai-NATO occupation?