Saturday, March 12, 2011

Indefensible NPR

Given the piece o'crap O'Keefe's punking of NPR and the ensuing shedding o'Schillers that has followed it, I figured a brief round up of some of the reaction to it was in order. It is interesting that most of the liberal to leftist reactions to the whole affair are critiques of NPR's spineless capitulation to the O'Keefe sting that point out what regulars at NPR Check already know - NPR is a solidly conservative/Republican-friendly news organization.
  • Media Matters highlights how several conservatives have weighed in with praise for the friendly territory that NPR News offers them. No surprise there...
Unfortunately, NPR's devotion to US power elites and conservatives didn't sway some critics from their delusions that NPR news represents some kind of gold standard of journalism.
  • Jay Rosen at PressThink points out that NPR's capitulations to the right in this affair will have no effect on the triumphalist, take-no-prisoners conservatives who hate all public media and will only be satisfied when it is fully destroyed. Unfortunately, in his critique Rosen perpetuates the false notions that NPR is a valuable news source. He describes NPR as being "in the business of reporting facts," lauds Vivian Schiller as "a visionary leader who knew where NPR had to go in the digital age," and claims that NPR has been guided by a "commitment to [be] an impartial news service."
  • Worse than Rosen's were Joel Meares' comments about NPR at the Columbia Journalism Review. After making the point that NPR's actions will not appease its conservative enemies, Meares drifts into the land of pure fantasy, stating that
    "NPR is a legitimate, independent news organization that is consistently strong and tough in its reporting."
    Gad! I hope he'll send me a link to that alternate universe NPR so I can listen to some of that "strong and tough" reporting.
Of all the reactions to the NPR Schiller debacle, the one that really saddened me most was the article, "In Defense of NPR," by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship first posted on and later republished by Common Dreams which interestingly has never shown any interest in publishing NPR critiques I have submitted to them - including the earlier relevant post on NPR funding campaigns by progressives. It was depressing to read Moyers and Winship promoting the lies that NPR has a
"superb news division"
and to see them close their defense with this painfully ironic warning
"But for all its flaws, consider an America without public media. Consider a society where the distortions and dissembling would go unchallenged, where fact-based reporting is eliminated."
And where, pray tell, on NPR are those distortions and dissembling being challenged? And where is all that fact-based reporting? If you find it on any of the NPR flagship news shows - Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and the Weekend Editions - please write to me and I'll post them here on NPR Check.


pben said...

Ira Glass was "On the Media" with a challenge to report bias. He claimed that there wasn't much if any in the on the air product. The link for the story is:

Life As I Know It Now said...

I would be the first to defend NPR if the organization actually did their jobs as they fantasize themselves doing. Since they don't, I don't have any worries about their funding being cut at all. Maybe they should die and make way for real journalism. Maybe if they die no one will be able to spring up and truly carry out their mission but they are not carrying out their mission either and I would rather these middle of the road intellectuals give up their pretense that NPR is impartial in any way.

Jim said...

PZ Myers of sciencblogs doesn't think much of NPR after this debacle.

Anonymous said...

From NPR: "The comments made by Ron Schiller in the video produced by Project Veritas "were so opposite" to what NPR stands for that "I cannot tell you how much [they] bothered me to my core," NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards just told reporters."

The irony is that those comments are undoubtedly the most truthful of anything we (the public) will ever hear from an NPR executive.

More from NPR: Susan Stamberg, who has been with NPR nearly 40 years, tells him [Folkenflik] that "we have not been well served by recent management. Many of our managers are talented and solid, but others have not been — and have exposed us to some terrible, terrible hits."

Translation: some of our managers talked too much and exposed the truth about NPR.

We can't afford any more of that.

Personally, I am enjoying watching NPR do itself in.

I just hope it puts people like Stamberg and Folkenflik in the unemployment line.

informedveteran said...

"But for all its flaws, consider an America without public media. Consider a society where the distortions and dissembling would go unchallenged, where fact-based reporting is eliminated."

These people that defend NPR seem to forget that this country didn't get into the crisis it is in overnight. As it turns out, a poorly informed public doesn't make good decisions in a supposed "representative democracy". And I don't think the future will be very bright if so many that I otherwise respect think NPR is doing a "heck-of-a-job".

I think time to fix this country is running out.

informedveteran said...

On the Chris Matthews Show, "Hack Matthews" as I like to call him just asked "What can be done to make NPR more centrist?"

His panel basically said that it isn't biased to the left, just elitist since it covers news of the world. I was eating at the time so I changed the channel to something that was easier on my stomach, namely news of the nuclear meltdown(s).

Now I remember why my TV normally stays OFF on Sundays......

Miranda said...

Here's Robert Parry on mushy NPR and David Broder.

informedveteran said...

Good find Miranda.

Also saw Alicia Shepard on CNN's "reliable sources" today yammering about the latest NPR fiasco.


Anonymous said...

McChesney & Nichols, in their recent book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, want to save journalism, in large part, through a system of gov't subsidy. I don't think they are very big fans of existing public broadcasting (NPR, PBS), however, being serious scholars of the democratic function of media.

I don't listen to much national NPR, as it makes me want to hurl and MUCH prefer to read the stellar work presented here. (Local public broadcasting content here in Chicago is much stronger and somewhat independent sounding.) But I do wonder: if McChes/Nichols are right, how will the defunding of NPR affect the longer term prospects for a publicly funded press?

To my mind the biggest obstacle to a democratic (small "d") press is its for-profit logic (actually as analyzed in McChesney's other book, the Problem of the Media.

gDog said...

Shearer: Viv violated the "dibs rule on only one Shiller." Please give.

Miranda said...

(Love Shearer.)

Could it be that the tide of sentiment is turning against NPR at long last? (Setting aside, of course, former LBJ flack Moyers' BS defense.) Prior to the "sting" and its craven aftermath, nary a critical word was heard outside this excellent blog.

Anonymous said...

If the Ron Schiller thing tells us anything it is that there is some serious infighting going on at the highest levels of NPR.

The common perception is that he "let his guard down", but that's nonsense. He never would have expressed those opinions to total strangers if he didn't have a bone to pick with other higher-ups at NPR.

The folks at NPR are clearly trying to put on a united front, but I suspect the reality is quite different.

When the ship is going down and your job/career is on the line, it's every man/woman for himself.

We are seeing an organization is total disarray.

informedveteran said...

And don't miss Michele Norris on Meet the Press. This combined with Alicia Shepard appearing on CNN's "reliable sources" on the same day about the NPR fiasco and the threats to cut funding.

Porter Melmoth said...

I guess we can't expect sensible NPR critiques to be coming from any sector that cooperates and interacts with NPR itself. NPR has done such a good job of pulling wool over eyes on all levels, that insiders, especially 'liberal' ones, don't want any harm to come to one of their outlets for talking head opportunities.

We who examine NPR for what it is are seemingly in a different universe than those who benefit from NPR's existence and those listeners who regard NPR with a sort of sacredness/preciousness.