May
26
2009

'Self-Serving Propaganda'? No Problem on NPR

Wondering "why NPR decided it was appropriate to present Cheney's blatantly self-serving propaganda as anything remotely relevant to current policy," NPR Check contributor Brian (5/23/09) blogs about current president Barack Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney recently "attacking the policies of the other administration and defending their own positions in speeches." Even though each was given "in front of friendly audiences unable to challenge them," NPR's Morning Edition of May 22 "presented them as a face-to-face debate between the two men, alternating soundbites from each," and giving Cheney equal billing with the president in a piece titled "Obama, Cheney: […]

May
15
2009

Examining the Paper of Record's Torture Record

Giving us a glimpse at "a large part of what was left on the editor's floor" from his On the Media NPR interview, Harpers.org's Scott Horton (5/12/09) writes of "the New York Times and its history of dealing with the word 'torture'": I noted that in the pre-Bush era, the Times had absolutely no compunction about calling certain practices "torture," but when the Bush administration began to use them, the word was suddenly off-limits, or only used in the most circumspect way ("a practice which critics of the administration call 'torture,'" for instance). A good example can be found in […]

May
06
2009

NPR: 'Justifying and Sanitizing the U.S. Torture Regime'

Blogging on how May 4 and 5 broadcasts "feature NPR continuing its function of justifying and sanitizing the U.S. torture regime," dedicated public radio critic Mytwords (NPR Check, 5/5/09) plumbs the depths of NPR's aversion to "human rights or international law advocates or experts"–instead preferring "members or former members of various U.S. government agencies," even "the very ones implicated in formulating and carrying out torture": For a long time NPR news has minimized (June 2006), dismissed (February 2007), ignored (April 2007), covered over (October 2007) and collaborated with (December 2007) the use of torture by agencies and agents of the […]

May
04
2009

Cokie Roberts: Bad Beyond Sports Analogies

Slate's Jack Shafer (5/1/09) has had his fill of NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts' "four minutes of on-air blather about politics, the economy and world events with whichever unlucky Morning Edition host has drawn the short straw" on Mondays. Shafer writes of how, "drained of controversy and conflict, the Cokie minutes provide perfect editorial balance if your idea of balance is zero": I can think of no comparably sized media space that's as void of original insight and information as Roberts'. Her segments, though billed as "analysis" by NPR, do little but speed-graze the headlines and add a few […]

May
02
2009

NPR's '5th Grade Math Exercise'

Critiquing the April 24 edition of NPR's "increasingly vacuous and self-indulgent" Planet Money show, blogger Brian (NPR Check, 4/24/09) notices that the "five long minutes" spent discussing "how long it would take to count to 165 million (the AIG executive bonuses), 45 billion (Bank of America's bailout so far), and 1.2 trillion (total estimated federal bailouts of banks so far)," came right after "a long week of severely deficient coverage of actual financial news" like "40 seconds Morning Edition spent pararaphrasing a New York Times article on the looming Chrysler bankruptcy": The sad thing is that it actually might have […]

Mar
30
2009

NPR's Afghanistan Stenographers Bureau Still Open

NPR watchdog Mytwords (NPR Check, 3/28/09) would just "love to know what it costs NPR to station Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Afghanistan," from where she dispatches to U.S. public radio such "news" as U.S.-installed Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai telling reporters "that he welcomes the increased American focus on Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan," that "the plan will help restore Afghans' faith in western efforts in their country" and–in an actual soundbite from Karzai–"It's exactly what Afghan people were hoping for and seeking, therefore it has our full support." Nelson also reported, "Meanwhile in the southern province of Helmand, Afghan […]

Mar
27
2009

NPR's Salvadoran History Lesson

Proving that the Washington Post is not the only purportedly "liberal" outlet interested in whitewashing the dark history of U.S. involvement in Latin America, Mytwords (NPR Check, 3/23/09) has blogged NPR's March 21 episode of Weekend Edition Saturday, in which the show returned to the scene of the crimes of El Salvador's 1980s bloodbath–a U.S.-nurtured extreme-right orgy of torture and murder against organized labor, the poor, church leaders and leftists (and their families, friends, associates or potential associates). There were a few problems with the report. Jason Beaubien's reporting isn't great; he does a little plastic surgery on history, claiming […]

Mar
16
2009

NPR Can (but Doesn't) 'Take a Lesson' from Jon Stewart

When NPR ombud Alicia Shepard commented on an NPR blog that "we can all take a lesson from" Jon Stewart because "he holds people in power accountable for what they say"–this being her "definition of a good journalist"–Matthew Murrey, AKA NPR Check blogger Mytwords, couldn't resist asking "So when will Shepard hold the NPR journalists to such a standard?" Mytwords' challenge of Shepard "(or anyone for that matter) to show any examples in the last 10 years where NPR's main news shows… 'held people in power accountable'" was met by one reader (3/15/09) who had only heard one instance of […]

Mar
04
2009

NPR 'Worse Than Worthless' on Middle East

National Public Radio watchdog Mytwords (NPR Check, 3/3/09) is moved to declare the network's Palestine/Israel coverage "worse than worthless" after "yesterday morning first featured Michele Kelemen redelivering Secretary of State Clinton's talking points (Hamas is a terrorist organization, blah, blah, blah, Hamas has to renounce violence, blah, blah, blah, U.S. is giving tons of money to Gaza, blah, blah, etc.)": After that four-minute-plus State Department summary, what does NPR offer? Who would you go to for expert analysis? How about someone who has "has advised six American secretaries of state." Yep, NPR serves up the stale ideas of Aaron David […]

Mar
02
2009

NPR Blames Borrowers for Listening to NPR

Characterizing an "Incredibly Bad Economic Piece on NPR" as having "helped a blackmail effort," blogging economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 2/27/09) says "the piece concluded by telling listeners that 'the problem is us,' that we had borrowed too much and therefore we have to pay the cost in the form of big taxpayer bailouts": Okay, this is wrong, wrong and wrong. First, the excessive borrowing wasn't just shear frivolity, it was attributable to something that got very little notice from NPR at the time and unfortunately still gets very little notice from NPR: an $8 trillion housing bubble. People […]

Feb
19
2009

NPR's 'History Scrub' of U.S. Fault in Afghanistan

"A rather major problem with nearly all of NPR's reporting" has been identified by NPR Check blogger Mytwords (2/18/09) and named the "history scrub." The definition: "If the essential background history to a story reflects poorly on the actions of the U.S. government–that history will be deleted, scrubbed, sanitized–sent down the memory hole." The key example given is a February 17 All Things Considered in which host Michelle Norris "blandly explains that thousands more U.S. troops are headed off to Afghanistan and doesn't even chuckle in noting that the United States Institute of Peace [tee-hee] released some new policy recommendations […]

Feb
17
2009

NPR, Fox Collude to Hide Fake Lefty

Noting that "news organizations often encourage their journalists to appear on other platforms for promotional purposes," former TVNewser Brian Stelter reports (New York Times, 2/15/09) that, "when the National Public Radio analyst Juan Williams speaks on the Fox News Channel's highest-rated program, the radio network doesn't want any attention": Mr. Williams, a longtime political analyst and author, is a paid contributor to both NPR and Fox News. His voice is a prominent one at Fox; he was a panelist for the network's coverage of election night and Inauguration Day. When he appears on the cable channel, he is regularly described […]