Jan
18
2012

What Do NPR's Right-Wing Critics Have to Complain About?

David Margolick has an interesting piece about NPR in the new issue of Vanity Fair. He spends much of his time on Juan Williams, but this observation about NPR's right-wing critics is an important observation: Apart from the occasional stories about gays or Palestinians (and maybe even gay Palestinians), there's precious little on NPR these days for conservatives really to hate. For them, despising NPR and cutting off what amounts to the few pennies it collects from the federal budget has increasingly become more a matter of pandering, or habit, or sophomoric sport, than of conviction or serious policy. The […]

Jan
17
2012

PBS, NPR Try to Defend Iran Distortions

Evaluating reporting and commentary about Iran could be reduced to one simple rule: There is no evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Statements that suggest otherwise are misleading. Reports that fail to point this out are doing readers/viewers/listeners a disservice. That sounds simple enough. But don't tell that to the outlets that are being criticized over their Iran reporting. Take NPR and PBS, both of which were singled out by the group Just Foreign Policy. A few days ago (1/10/12), the FAIR Blog featured a post criticizing the PBS NewsHour for a deceptive report on Iran. The […]

Dec
09
2011

NPR Tries to Track Down Those Millionaire Job Creators

Dean Baker (12/9/11) flagged this NPR Morning Edition report today (12/9/11), and it's well worth a positivity. In the debate over the payroll tax cut, Democrats want to pay for extending the tax break with a surtax on the wealthy. Republicans claim–usually without being challenged by reporters–that a surtax on millionaires would be an attack on job-creating small-business owners. So NPR decided to go to GOP officials and ask to speak with these small-business-owning, millionaire job-creators. Turned out there was trouble finding any: We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So NPR requested help from numerous […]

Oct
20
2011

NPR, Lisa Simeone and Biased Opera Reporting

There's quite a controversy brewing over freelance radio host Lisa Simeone for her participation with an activist group occupying a park in Washington, D.C. It's a worth a look at how this unfolded– especially since it appears to have cost her one of her jobs. A report at the Roll Call website (10/18/11) noted that Simeone was acting as a spokesperson for the group, which goes by the name October 11. Roll Call wondered if this violated NPR ethics guidelines, since Simeone acts as a host on two programs that air on some NPR affiliates: the long-running documentary series Soundprint […]

Oct
07
2011

You Can't Take Politics Out of the Public Broadcasting Debate

In the When Will They Learn? department, incoming National Public Radio president Gary Knell seems to suffer from the same misunderstanding that has plagued public broadcasting executives for years. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik reports that Knell says he hopes to "calm the waters a bit" at NPR after recent political controversies, and to "depoliticize" debate over the future of public radio. Knell is quoted saying, "It's not about liberal or conservative; it's about fairness…. We've got to make the case we're delivering a fair service." Sigh. It's as if he doesn't see the road behind him strewn with efforts […]

Aug
26
2011

O'Keefe's Bogus NPR Sting Lives On

Jesse Jackson had some tough criticism for the Tea Party movement at a Martin Luther King event on Thursday. USA Today's Melanie Eversley covered his remarks, getting a Tea Party activist to respond to his criticism. The piece then added this, presumably in order to add some context: The group has faced criticism of being a racist group, a claim made most visibly by former National Public Radio fundraiser Ron Schiller, who was caught on hidden camera calling the group racist and xenophobic, prompting his immediate resignation. In other words, lots of people seem to hurl accusations of racism at […]

Aug
26
2011

Why Is Israel Bombing Gaza?

The coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza is following some predictable patterns. The New York Times has a headline today (8/26/11), "Israeli Strikes in Retaliation Kill Nine Gazans." Readers should ask: Retaliation for what? It's widely understood that this violence stems from the attack last week in the southern Israeli town of Eilat. As the Times puts it: "The recent round of violence started a week ago, with a terrorist attack on southern Israel in which eight Israelis were killed." The real question, though, is who committed these acts. The Times says: Israeli officials said the perpetrators and planners […]

Aug
10
2011

Barney Frank Questions the Questions at NPR

It's an article of faith in mainstream media discussions of the budget: Social Security and Medicare are the "entitlements" driving our debt problems. That's not really true, but that's overwhelmingly the starting point for these discussions. Occasionally, perhaps by accident, someone questions that assumption. That's what happened on NPR's Morning Edition on Monday (8/8/11), when Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.) was interviewed by Steve Inskeep about, among other things, the entitlement burden. Read what happened–or listen to the excerpt below: INSKEEP: Congressman, if I can, we've just got a few seconds. You have mentioned defense spending. You've mentioned tax increases. Those […]

May
27
2011

NPR Journalists Worry About (Some) Money

NPR ombud Alicia Shepard has a piece (5/25/11) about internal discomfort with a recent $1.8 million grant from the George Soros-connected Open Society Foundation. Shepard writes: The money is for a worthy purpose. NPR is using the two-year grant as seed money to start a local-national initiative, known as the Impact on Government project. Eventually, the plan is to have two public radio reporters in every state keeping tabs on state government issues that are woefully under-reported by the media. This is to be a multi-media project for radio, the Web and social media. It's hard to argue against the […]

Apr
21
2011

Another Word From Our Sponsor: The Return of Renee McMontagne

Renee "McMontagne" brought NPR listeners another McDonald's PR story yesterday morning. On April 5, Montange and her Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep uncritically previewed McDonald's big PR campaign revolving around a one-day hiring blitz to "recast its jobs not as dead-end work, but in ads starring its happy employees as desirable employment" (FAIR Blog, 4/6/11). I noted that McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc gave NPR a 9-figure bequest a few years ago. Well, Montagne returned to the story yesterday with an on-the-ground report from the scene of a McDonald's hiring event in Philadelphia, where an NPR correspondent interviewed three of those […]

Apr
12
2011

NPR's Critics–and the Critics Who Actually Listen

From a Q&A with NPR ombud Alicia Shepard (CJR, 4/11/11): I also got a call last week from Ralph Nader. He was saying how NPR is really just a corporate toady, and that they don't have enough progressive voices on, and I hear that quite a bit. I hear that more from people who actually listen to NPR. Funny how that works.

Apr
06
2011

NPR: And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor

NPR Morning Edition (4/5/11) keeps its audience informed about important business news (that just so happens to be about an image-burnishing campaign by the company whose heiress gave them a 9-figure bequest a few years ago): RENEE MONTAGNE: And our last word in business today comes from another Illinois-based employer. The word is McJobs. That word has meant low-paid work at a particular fast food chain. But McDonald's is trying to, quote, "turn the word on its ear," as one marketing executive put it to Ad Age magazine. Yesterday, McDonald's launched a McJobs campaign, with the goal of recruiting 50,000 […]

Mar
21
2011

To Milbank, Ending NPR and Afghan War Are Both 'Trivial Pursuits'

Washington Post Dana Milbank (3/19/11) skewers the Republicans for their "emergency meeting" to defund NPR: This particular emergency involved the lower end of the FM radio dial. Republicans, in an urgent budget-cutting maneuver, were voting to cut off funding for National Public Radio. All $5 million of it–or one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers and calculated the impact this emergency measure would have on government spending: "No effect." One of the rules of corporate media balanceisthat if you criticize Republicans, you have to findan example of similarbuffoonery on the […]