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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

BBC: What's the harm, when all of NPR's listeners already believe all Tea Partiers are hard-core racists anyway?

I was much amused this afternoon while listening to a reporter from the BBC News World Service — during its daily news broadcast for National Public Radio via NPR's local affiliate, KUHT-FM — interviewing an NPR exec (whose name I didn't catch) over the ouster of NPR CEO and president Vivian Schiller. Ms. Schiller was asked today to leave by NPR's board in the wake of Tuesday's release of, as NPR so mildly puts it, a sting videotape "of then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) slamming conservatives and questioning whether NPR needs federal funding."

Before she joined NPR in January 2009, Ms. Schiller was "senior vice president and general manager of" — drum roll, please, to heighten the suspense and enhance your surprise — "NYTimes.com."

What wasn't so funny was the NPR spokesperson's continued insistence in the BBC interview that NPR really isn't liberal, that it's "moderate" and "right down the middle," and that Ron Schiller's bigotry, odious opinions, and radical leftism isn't really representative of NPR as a whole. A joke told as often as that one has been just isn't funny any more.

In fact, the true reason why both Schillers had to be thrown under the bus is obvious, and it's obviously not because either of them was in any way out of step with the rest of NPR's leaders or its rank and file. Rather, it was because (a) he'd accidentally told truths that exposed his and NPR's biases, and (worse) been caught on videotape doing so, and (b) she hadn't been smart enough to prevent that, even in the wake of the disastrous publicity from Juan Williams' firing and James O'Keefe's previous video stings of (other) liberal monoliths like ACORN and Planned Parenthood. In this case, the Schillers are not being punished for the (still-continuing) crime, but for the failure of the (would-be perpetual) cover-up.

But I did laugh aloud at one incredulous question from the BBC interviewer, to the effect of (my close paraphrase, but not a direct quote): "Why should an NPR executive be fired, and another forced to quit prematurely, just because one of them said the Tea Partiers are all hard-core racists? Don't NPR's listeners all already share that opinion?"

Of course, my hearing it explodes the proposition.

And of course, even if all of NPR's listeners were already thoroughly indoctrinated in the Democratic Party's politics and world-view (including its love of class warfare, identity politics, and government spending/regulation) — even if it weren't NPR's goal to continue to indoctrinate, and to make new converts to their political cause — that still wouldn't make it okay for NPR to promote one side's politics with everyone's tax dollars. There's a word for that practice, a word every reporter for the BBC or NPR ought to already have in their active vocabularies: "corruption."

There's never been a time when I was so drunk that I no longer realized I was drunk, but these tools, these preening asshats, are so thoroughly self-besotted and self-deluded that they really can't tell when they're hallucinating anymore. And that, while sad, and even dangerous, can't help but be funny too.

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UPDATE (Wed Mar 9 @ 6:40pm): I wanted to make sure I wasn't mischaracterizing the BBC interviewer's question, so I tracked down what's at least a temporary link to an .mp3 podcast of today's program. The segment on NPR begins at 23:20, and was hosted by BBC World News anchor James Menendez.

Listening to it again, I was struck by some earlier banter between Mr. Menendez and BBC Washington correspondent Paul Adams, who — when asked why Ms. Schiller had to be fired for Mr. Schiller's having been "unwise enough to give his candid opinion on some of these [incindiary] issues [like the Tea Partiers being racists]" — had this to say (beginning at 25:06; the transcription, and all bracketed portions [including the purely snarky Beldarisms, in green], are my own):

Well, because she [Ms. Schiller] has had a pretty difficult time. NPR, it has to be said [unsourced opinion disguised-as-news alert! because no, it doesn't have to be said, unless you have a point of view you're selling or a constituency to whom you're pandering], has been — and public broadcasting as a whole — a target of conservatives for a long, long time. Last autumn, she fired, somewhat summarily, an analyst and commentator, Juan Williams, over some comments that he made on the right-wing cable news channel, Fox News, in which he said he felt uncomfortable when he saw people dressed in Muslim garb on airplanes. And I think you'll detect here something of a common thread to this story — that it all — a lot of it seems to revolve around attitudes toward Muslims in American society today. [Oh, yeah, right. The "real story" is all about American Juan Williams' Republican racism! Squirrel!] She was much criticized over her handling of that affair, and it was clumsy to say the least. And so it's felt [another calculated passive-voice wimp-out] that this was really the last straw as far as she was concerned.

[BBC anchor Menendez]: So could this affair make it much harder for NPR to justify its funding?

[BBC correspondent Adams:] It could, and it comes at a time when Republicans are trying to do precisely that. In fact, a bill has already passed the House of Representatives which would remove federal funding from public broadcasting, including NPR. The Senate has yet to rule [sic] on that, it's not quite clear which way it's going to go. [We fought a revolution over that whole "ruler" thing, as you might think a British correspondent, stationed in the city named for the winning American general, would remember.]

And unfortunately one of the things that Ron Schiller said in that sting video was that he thought NPR could survive pretty well without federal money — words that may come back to haunt the organization because even though it's a relatively small part of their revenue, it is still something which they regard as extremely important. [Actually, Mr. Schiller said "it is very clear that [NPR] would be better off in the long run without federal funding," which undercuts the rest of Mr. Adams' spin.] And it is thought that [passive voice alert! often a signal that what follows is going to be someone's opinion, with the someone disguised] in the case of some of the rural NPR member stations, federal money can account for anywhere up to 50% of their operating costs, even though nationally, as an average, it's more like 10%. [This is simply repeating something Mr. Schiller also said at the lunch, when describing their "challenge right now" if they immediately lost federal funding and needed to turn, presumably, to other righteous sources ... like the Muslim Brotherhood.]

So there are serious issues involved for NPR, and it could well be that this will add fuel to the argument that it should be — that NPR should lose this money. [At last! Some of that famous British understatement!]

[BBC anchor Menendez]: And so what have the Republicans been saying about this?

[BBC correspondent Adams:] Well, so far, I think they regard this as confirmation of their view, which is that NPR is an inherently liberal organization, and that an organization like that, which displays its liberal bias, has no business receiving public money. [Literally rushes to add:] It has to be said [another unsourced opinion disguised-as-news alert!] — and I think anyone who's listened to NPR, I think, will echo this [again demonstrating a profound ignorance of the fact that even conservatives like me sometimes listen to NPR, because we are in fact interested in what liberals have to say] — you'd be hard pressed to find in America's overheated media environment a rather more straight-laced and moderate voice than National Public Radio.

It's folks like these who can say, and insist, with perfectly straight faces that Barack Obama is really quite moderate. [And to his credit, "rather straight-laced," at least for a former cocaine-snorter turned community organizer who still plays a lot of basketball and golf.]

But here's the exact question that prompted my post, and I've identified the person of whom BBC anchor Menendez asked it as being NPR ombudsman Alicia C. Shepherd (at 28:57; obvious vocal emphasis in original was his, but these italics and bold-facing are mine):

Is it just, though, a perception about where NPR's coming from? I mean: Is it not fair to say that lots of people — lots of listeners — would share some of Ron Schiller's views, particularly about the Tea Party, for example? [Menendez delivered the previous sentence's ending with what can only be described as a verbal smirk. These radio guys are so talented that way! Bloggers can't be so subtle.]

I thought, at first, that it was to Ms. Shepherd's credit that she didn't rush to embrace the implied accusation of racism implicit in the question, and that she didn't seem to be trying to deny the ugliness of what Mr. Schiller had been caught saying on video. And in fairness and for context, here's her answer to BBC anchor Menendez' question:

Well [obvious pause] may be. But that's really not the point.

NPR is a news organization just like the BBC. [That's true! but not in the way she meant it.] I'm sure there are reporters at the BBC who have personal biases or opinions, agendas, whatever. [This would be an example of that famous American understatement.]

But they're professionals, and that's the same thing with the journalists at NPR: You put aside those biases and you go out and you report the news. And you try to be accurate, thorough, fair, independent, transparent — all the values of journalism.

But then it struck me: What better way could Ms. Shepherd and the other executives still at NPR put on an appearance of being duly chastised — as part of their efforts to restore the fig leaf of a pretense that they're unbiased and objective — than by giving an interview to the BBC, in which they could rely on their British cousins like Adams and Menendez to testify on NPR's behalf, and to spin, for NPR's benefit, the very same odious talking points that Mr. Schiller had just been caught making?

And then you simply use your own network to re-broadcast, all across America — and yes, still using, in part, U.S. tax-payer dollars — Menendez' and Adams' dripping insinuations, barely concealed from being an outright accusation, that "All Tea Partiers really are racists"! Brilliant! Pathetic, and evil; but brilliant.

(The Beeb itself, and its World Service in particular, are under considerable funding pressure in the U.K., by the way, and their reliance on government funding is nearly total. An ethical journalist ought to have disclosed his own and his employer's own related interests as part of this report. An ethical journalistic ombudsman would have pointed the conflict out to her interviewer. Heh — maybe at journalism school, otherwise only in our dreams.)

Posted by Beldar at 04:34 PM in Current Affairs, Mainstream Media, Politics (2011) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Whitehall made the following comment | Mar 9, 2011 5:31:29 PM | Permalink

The most damning revelation was the NPR executives' willingness to take money from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The colloboration between Western Leftists and Islamists is real and visible to all.

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Mar 9, 2011 9:07:12 PM | Permalink

Absolutely. NPR is in damage-control mode and its liberal brethren will do everything they can to help.

Plus, I love the green snark.

(3) Texpat made the following comment | Mar 9, 2011 9:19:05 PM | Permalink

Your best post ever, Bill.

Bravissimo.

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Mar 10, 2011 1:17:10 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Mr. Schiller is bang right about NPR surviving sans federal dough. It's the member stations that would kick the bucket without their spot at the trough. So what's the answer for NPR mgmt? Easy: pay cut. Ol' Viv is dragging down 450 grand a year. NPR's ombsudman sez this is "moderate" (at the 11:57 AM mark.) Well sure, compared to a commercial outfit that has to bring in its own dough as opposed to the feds dragooning the taxpayer through one more trip through the lemon squeezer, 450K seems modest. But NPR can only raise dough by whoring among such zanies and fanatics. Let Viv try struggling along on, say 100K a year, everyone else at NPR taking a proportionate pay cut. Surely the privilege of broadcasting what is liberaliberaliberal is all the reward Leftist bigots need, no?

No. It is not enough for such witlings to howl liberal bigotry across the airwaves. A sack of dough, extracted from the Tea Party among others, is essential. Don't think NPR bigots don't hug themeselves with glee at the thought of forcing their adversaries to have to pay for the privilege of being spit on.

The nation is greatly in O'Keefe's debt. Nor does his basic shtick look to be running out of steam any time soon. It is our turn to hug ourselves at standard journalistic practice being used to hurl the bomb.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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