Apr
05
2010

NPR Studies NPR's Gender Balance

NPR ombud Alicia Shepard has posted an article (4/2/10)headlined "Where Are the Women?,"a summary of a study of the gender diversityofhigh-profile NPR programs. The most important findings: With the aid of NPR librarian Hannah Sommers, we compiled a list of regular commentators, who are not NPR employees but are paid to appear on air. There are 12 outside commentators who appeared at least 20 times in the last 15 months. The only woman is former NPR staffer, Cokie Roberts (51 times), who is on ME [Morning Edition] most Mondays talking politics. And: We also looked at the number of people […]

Mar
05
2010

Progressive History on the Public Airwaves: U.S. vs. U.K.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the historic British miners strike of 1984-85. The BBC has a special broadcast in commemoration, The Ballad of the Miners Strike, featuring the voices of miners. But where can Americans turn for commemorations of our progressive history? There is always Howard Zinn's excellent book, A People's History of the United States. But turn on NPR, the closest thing the U.S. has to the BBC, and the closest you'll get to the people's history is the denunciation of Zinn.

Sep
01
2009

NPR Boosts 'Dominance of Private Health Insurance'

Analyzing "The Art of Framing at NPR" on his NPR Check blog, Mytwords (8/29/09) thinks that "there are many ways you could frame the role of Sen. Kent Conrad, one of the gang of six senators who are working very hard to preserve the profitable dominance of private health insurance in the U.S.–such as "marvel[ing] at why six senators representing less than 3 percent of the U.S. population are controlling the fate of health insurance reform," or possibly by taking a serious "look at the obscene amounts of campaign cash flowing into these senators' coffers from the for-profit health insurance […]

Aug
10
2009

U.S. Paramilitary Murder Doesn't Rate on NPR

National Public Radio monitor mytwords (NPR Check, 8/9/09) has observed what he dubs a "Blackwater Blackout" on the publicly funded "alternative" to corporate radio: On Tuesday, August 4 Jeremy Scahill broke the story about two sworn statements implicating Blackwater (now Xe) founder Erik Prince in the murder of employees or former employees who were cooperating in the federal investigation of Blackwater. He also revealed that sworn statements indicated that Blackwater was organized and run as an anti-Muslim, Christian identity paramilitary force. By any measure this is a major news story. It was picked up by ABC, Boston Herald, CNN, the […]

Aug
05
2009

NPR Debate: 'False Distortion' vs. 'Fact-Based Statement'

NPR Check blogger mytwords has taken the time (8/4/09) to closely "consider [Scott] Horsley's verbal sleight of hand" on National Public Radio's August 4 Morning Edition: He equates a completely false distortion–characterizing the tepid Democratic health reform proposals as "government-run healthcare" in opposition to "the free market"–with a completely fact-based statement–"we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry but it doesn't work well for you [the public]." Yes, the system works well (insurance profits more than quadrupled from 2000 to 2007) but not for the public, which pays more for less and suffers about 22,000 deaths […]

Jul
10
2009

News on Female Pols 'Insulting, Irrelevant… Drivel'

Jennifer L. Pozner has a version of her new NPR commentary on the Women In Media & News website she founded (7/8/09), in which she asks you to "think carefully: Can you remember any passionate TV news debates about whether journalists or voters might want to get naked with former vice president Dick Cheney?" If you're answer is no, that's not only unsurprising, but also, says Pozner, "good. Because such an insulting, irrelevant topic would–and should–never be considered newsworthy." She then calls attention to the fact that, "unfortunately, this sort of drivel frequently passes for journalism when the politician at […]

Jul
06
2009

NPR Ombud Dodges 'Torture' Reporting Critic

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has an update (7/2/09, ad-viewing required) on "several noteworthy developments since I wrote on Tuesday about the refusal of NPR's ombudsman, Alicia Shepard, to be interviewed by me about NPR's ban on using the word 'torture' to describe the Bush administration's interrogation tactics": Given the utter vapidity of her rationale ("there are two sides to the issue. And I'm not sure, why is it so important to call something torture?"), I was momentarily amazed to learn that she actually teaches "Media Ethics" to graduate students at Georgetown University…. NPR's "torture" ban and its ombudsman's incoherent defense of […]

Jul
02
2009

NPR's Single-Payer-Free Healthcare Reportage

Critiquing some more of National Public Radio's healthcare reportage, blogger Mytwords (NPR Check, 6/29/09) highlights Julie Rovner of Morning Edition "reporting this morning for the private health insurance lobby": "The healthcare cost debate pretty much comes down to this: 'You can't cut costs without hurting someone.'" Rovner then backs up her "analysis" with "a little Meet the Press sound-bite from Fred Thompson"–"The only way to really save cost is to have rationing or it can be done by a cram-down by the government and take it out of the hides of doctors, hospitals": Rovner's report mainly serves to highlight and […]

Jun
20
2009

NPR Airs 'All Important [Underwritten] Views'

Linking to a Felice Pace piece of June 14 that connects the near-absence of single-payer-focused NPR reportage to millions of dollars in underwriting the broadcaster has received from insurance industry heavies, NPR Check's Mytwords (6/17/09) includes his own comment left under Weekend Edition Saturday's "Health Care Reform From The Insurer's Perspective" segment: Congratulations NPR–as a "public" news station you have done a great service by providing a voice to the voiceless: the health insurance industry, which lacks the funds and connections to get its message out. After yesterday's Republican slant on the public plan from [Mara] Liasson, [Julie] Rovner and […]

Jun
17
2009

NPR's 'Sanitized, Propaganda-Laden' War Reportage

NPR Check blogger Mytwords has some advice (6/14/09) "in these times of austerity and job 'shedding' at NPR": "Instead of spending all the money it must take to embed a reporter like Tom Bowman with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, why not cut him out of the picture and just hand a microphone to one of the officers or commanders there?": Heck, if that's too expensive, why not just get on the Internets and pull some hard-hitting journalism from the military website of whatever unit Tom would have been embedded with? It sure would be a lot cheaper, even though […]

Jun
03
2009

U.S. Media Complicit in U.S. Intimidation of Media

Discussing (5/31/09) the "story on the two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea," NPR Check's Mytwords states clearly that it "deserves coverage, as did some coverage of [Roxana] Saberi's arrest in Iran (though not the wall to wall attention given by NPR)." But a reader's link to the L.A. Times' May 24 "article on another irregular (illegal?) detention of a journalist" sheds light on a glaring double standard: In this case the journalist was seized by U.S. forces and its allies. The reader noted the lack of NPR coverage on the abduction/detention of Ibrahim Jassam, complaining that NPR has voiced […]

Jun
02
2009

Sotomayor Coverage the Very 'Antithesis of Journalism'

Progressive critic Dr. Roberto Rodriguez has a new commentary (New America Media, 6/2/09) demonstrating how the miserable press reaction to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's U.S. Supreme Court "nomination clearly shows us is that what this nation needs is more incisive journalism, not less." But, Rodriguez laments, "to be sure, the rise of right-wing media, which include Fox News and virtually all the known right-wing radio talkshow hosts, is the antithesis of journalism": Their coverage of the Sotomayor nomination points to the need for honest debate, not simply on the issues of race, but on the right wing's aversion to truth. It […]

May
28
2009

NPR: Ever Faithful to U.S. Empire

Dubbing National Public Radio "The Counterinsurgency Channel," blogger Mytwords (NPR Check, 5/28/09) takes issue with a May 27 All Things Considered report "meant to promote an aspect of U.S. counterinsurgency in Afghanistan–the training of Afghan police as part of Task Force Phoenix (what dumb ass names these operations anyway?)": The report opens with some great editorializing from Michele Norris: If American policy is ever to be successful in Afghanistan, it will be because of people like Army Major Jim Contreras; he's the top American police trainer in Helmand province in Southern Afghanistan. Afghan police are key to fighting insurgents: They […]