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 […]

Mar
17
2011

Blaming the Internet for Reporters' Gullibility

USA Today has a long piece (3/17/11) by Martha Moore about video hoax artist James O'Keefe's NPR project. The article does a pretty good job of running down the deceptions in O'Keefe's video. That's good. This, however, is not: The video follows a long, if not always honorable, tradition of muckraking exposés. It also is a stepchild to the political tactic of tracking an opponent with video until a gaffe occurs, then capitalizing on it. The sting's impact was magnified by the quick dissemination-without-scrutiny that is a hallmark of Internet-driven media. O'Keefe's video has nothing to do with muckraking. And […]

Mar
14
2011

NPR Unstung? Once Again, O'Keefe Shows He Shouldn't Be Trusted

After his fraudulent ACORN videos, the lesson media should havelearned aboutright-wing "citizen journalist" James O'Keefe is not to trust him. But they didn't, so here we are with his NPR stunt, which allegedly shows NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller saying mean things about the Tea Party in a meeting with phony Muslim Brotherhood-connected donors. But it appears that, once again, O'Keefe's videos are not be what they seem. The first serious questions about them were raised on (I swear!) The Blaze, a Glenn Beck-affiliated website. Over there, Scott Baker pointed to a few problems (3/10/11). In one part of the video, […]

Mar
11
2011

Stinging NPR: James O'Keefe's Big Nothing

He's back. Right-wing activist James O'Keefe's latest "work" is an undercover video that shows representatives from afake Muslim charity trying to make a $5 million donation to NPR. The "Muslim" donors-to-be meet with two NPR development officers. In the ensuing conversation, as all the media coverage explains, one of thetwo–Ron Schiller–expresses critical views ofRepublicans and the far-right Tea Party. Schiller is an NPR fundraiser, with no journalistic role there.While itwasn't wiseto share his personal views at a lunch, it is the sort of thing that people do all the time. So why does anyone care about this? Because O'Keefe–and countless […]

Jan
04
2011

Propaganda and the Saddam Statue 'Conspiracy'

Remember the toppling of that Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad (4/9/03) that signified the "end" of the Iraq War? At the time, there were critics who pointed out that the extensively televised images of a jubilant crowd of Iraqis were misleading.The sense of media excitement was unmistakable; as FAIR pointed out, the Los Angeles Times ran a headline the next day, "Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?" The incident is rehashed and examined in the New Yorker this week by Peter Maass, who was reporting from the scene that day.He states early on that both sides of the war […]

Jan
03
2011

One Media Activist Gets NPR Wiki Correction

According to NPR ombud Alicia Shepard (12/30/10), one very persistent letter writer named Henry Norr managed to get NPR to correct an error made several times by different programs–that WikiLeaks "published" the many thousands of State Department cables in its possession. The site has actually published few of them– less than 2,000. Shepard wrote: On Dec. 21, I sent Norr's 9 examples to NPR top editors and asked that a staff memo be sent out reminding everyone to be more careful in talking about the November document release. The memo went out on Christmas Eve. Still Norr was (rightly) not […]

Nov
09
2010

FAIR Out There

–On Democracy Now! (11/8/10): While Keith Olbermann's donations became front-page news, little attention has been paid to the massive amount of political spending by MSNBC's parent company General Electric, one of the nation's largest military contractors. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting reports GE made over $2 million in political contributions in the 2010 election cycle. The top recipient was Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman from Ohio. The company has also spent $32 million on lobbying this year and contributed over $1 million to campaign against a California ballot initiative aimed at eliminating tax loopholes for major corporations. –George Curry, writing […]

Oct
28
2010

Juan Williams' Ethical Duties–and NPR's

A guest post by Frances Cerra Whittelsey, Extra! contributor and journalism scholar: Whether or not Juan Williams is truly a liberal or just playing the role to give Fox an appearance of balance begs the question of whether his comment about fearing Muslims on airplanes justified his firing by NPR. Williams is waving the free speech flag to defend his "honest statement of feeling," as he put it in a statement published online by Fox. He insists he has not shown himself to be a bigot by admitting that fear grips him when he sees Muslims in Muslim garb getting […]

Oct
22
2010

With Juan Williams, the Question Is Not Objectivity, but Bigotry

It seems to me that debating Juan Williams' firing from NPR in terms of the role of "opinion" and "objectivity" in journalism is missing the point. Williams has expressed his opinions on Fox News countless times. Other NPR employees frequently express opinions, too, as when Scott Simon wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (10/11/01) comparing opponents of the invasion of Afghanistan to Hitler appeasers; it didn't seem to set back Simon's career any. The reason that Williams' discussion with Bill O'Reilly (O'Reilly Factor, 10/18/10) got him fired, it seems clear to me, is that he sounded like he […]

Jun
03
2009

Wall St. Cheerleaders 'Abandon Economic Reporting'

Looking at last week's "whole series of bad reports on the state of the economy," Dean Baker of Beat the Press and the Center for Economic and Policy Research tells readers of London's Guardian (6/1/09) if they think "these reports might have led to gloomy news stories," such assessments are to be found "not in the U.S. media": "The folks who could not see an $8 trillion housing bubble are still determined to find the silver lining in even the worst economic news": For example, National Public Radio told listeners that the new home sales figure reported for April was […]