Without Apologies, NPR is Not Liberal, But They Are Cowards

Right-Wing Conservatives have their favorite puppies to kick – Planned Parenthood, ACORN, women’s rights groups, gay rights groups, anyone who does not have pasty skin and have an 18th C. view of religion, unions, anyone to the left of Giovanni Gentile, anyone who does not think all problems can be solved with a gun or a brick bat, anyone with a sense of humor, anyone who does not worship the concept of the surveillance state and NPR, NPR Exec Recorded Disparaging Conservative Groups. Let’s start with what a fund rising executive, not a journalist, offered up as his personal opinion,

NPR’s soon-to-be-departing senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller is seen and heard on a videotape released this morning telling two men who were posing as members of a fictitious Muslim Education Action Center Trust that:

— “The Tea Party is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian — I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move.”

That is true. Whether they are tea nuts or just your common variety conservative, they believe government and religion should be intertwined to use government authority to force their brand of fundamentalist dogma on every citizen. One of the problems that goes hand in hand with welding such self-righteous authoritarianism is true believers end up being tremendous hypocrites. Schiller was caught expressing an opinion. According to the far Right echo chamber this is tantamount to violating some sacred law. Sorry to inform the Right, but we still have free speech in the USA and that seems to be the only think Schiller is guilty of. His remarks were not part of a newscast.

— “Tea Party people” aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

The tea nuts are largely white conservative males with very far Right political views and they may not all be racist, they do clearly have racists in their movement. Again, Schiller is guilty of making a generally true statement. It is not even a liberal or political statement per se, but a fact based observation. Shame on you Mr. Schiller for not keeping your fact informed opinions to yourself.

— “I think what we all believe is if we don’t have Muslim voices in our schools, on the air … it’s the same thing we faced as a nation when we didn’t have female voices.” In the heavily edited tape, that comment followed Schiller being told by one of the men that their organization “was originally founded by a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” There’s no sign in the edited tape that Schiller reacted in any way after being told of the group’s alleged connection to an Islamic group that appeared to be connected with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

So Schiller is guilty here of not acting like a right-wing bed wetting reactionary when someone says the words ‘Muslim Brotherhood”. Republicans have nothing against terrorists or terrorism as long as they are terrorist who have received the Republican stamp of approval. How naive for everyone working at NPR not to know this. Jon Stewart: ‘Wait Until Congressman Peter King Gets A Hold Of Terrorist Sympathizer Peter King!(R-NY)

— That NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding,” a position in direct conflict with the organization’s official position.

In the immediate future it seems that NPR needs a few million dollars a year from the feds to maintain its operations. Though how Schiller thinking NPR would be better off without a tiny fraction of its funding coming from the govmint plays into the Right’s paper board cutout picture of NPR as liberal leeches is questionable. I tend to agree if only because there is the slimmest chance that if NPR was completely funded by contributions and advertising, it would mean just a little less right-wing whining.

Ron Schiller also issued this apology:

“While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR’s values and also not reflective of my own beliefs. I offer my sincere apology to those I offended. I resigned from NPR, previously effective May 6th, to accept another job. In an effort to put this unfortunate matter behind us, NPR and I have agreed that my resignation is effective today.”

In a new statement, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said her chief fundraiser’s remarks in the video were “deeply distressing to reporters, editors and others who bring fairness, civility and respect for a wide variety of viewpoints to their work every day.”

Schiller is I suspect, one of those old school Democrats who feels required to bend over backwards to be fair even when he has not done anything wrong. Schiller-style Democrats are tiresome. I’ve written about this phenomenon several times: Like any average day – just your local cable, radio and news papers, you’ll get well over a hundred hours a day of right-wing propaganda and if you surf newspapers on the web, thousands of words of right-wing conservative spin. This is how the O’Keefes, Big Government, Fox and conservatives in general see the world – even a few minutes of centrism is too much liberalism for one day. Any moment of liberal broadcasting is too much and unfair. In other words anything, everything and everyone not dancing to the Right’s tune is an assault, the enemy at the gate and conservatives are the poor victims of every liberal word. No facts, no opinions contrary to the far Right is to be tolerated. In the eyes of modern conservatives, Democrats, progressives, liberals and moderate libertarians should be considered legal infractions and outlawed. Non- conservative points of view are always wrong, dangerous and should not be tolerated in any form.

This is from 2007 and the Bush era attacks on NPR, Broadcaster’s fairness attacked

Last month, the corporation’s board, which is dominated by Republicans named by President George W. Bush, told the staff at a meeting that it should prepare to redirect the relatively modest number of grants available for radio programs away from national news and toward local music, officials at the corporation and NPR said.

This is back when Kenneth Tomlinson blocked NPR from broadcasting its programs on a station in Berlin owned by the U.S. government. Not because of any radical anti-American opinions emanating from NPR, but because NPR was reporting Iraq casualties. Tomlinson was later found to have been stealing money from NPR and to support his private horse-racing operation – Broadcast official acted improperly, inquiry finds.

NPR is liberal? Like their attacks on ACORN and the ensuing lies the idea of NPR being liberal is a sick joke, a twisted case of conservative mental projections and insecurities, How Public Is Public Radio?
A study of NPR’s guest list

That NPR harbors a liberal bias is an article of faith among many conservatives. Spanning from the early ’70s, when President Richard Nixon demanded that “all funds for public broadcasting be cut” (9/23/71), through House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s similar threats in the mid-’90s, the notion that NPR leans left still endures.

News of the April launch of Air America, a new liberal talk radio network, revived the old complaint, with several conservative pundits declaring that such a thing already existed. “I have three letters for you, NPR . . . . I mean, there is liberal radio,” remarked conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan on NBC’s Chris Matthews Show (4/4/04). A few days earlier (4/1/04), conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Nightline, “The liberals have many outlets,” naming NPR prominently among them.

Nor is this belief confined to the right: CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer (3/31/04) seemed to repeat it as a given while questioning a liberal guest: “What about this notion that the conservatives make a fair point that there already is a liberal radio network out there, namely National Public Radio?”

Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn’s Grave

When progressive historian Howard Zinn died on January 27, NPR’s All Things Considered (1/28/10) marked his passing with something you don’t often see in an obituary: a rebuttal.

After quoting Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond, NPR’s Allison Keyes turned to far-right activist David Horowitz to symbolically spit on Zinn’s grave. “There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn’s intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect,” Horowitz declared. “Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse.”

Horowitz’s substance-free attack contributed nothing to an understanding of Zinn’s life or work, other than conveying that he’s disliked by cranky right-wingers. (Horowitz has been best known in recent years for his race-baiting and Muslim-bashing–Extra!, 5-6/02; FAIR report, 10/1/08.) He seems to have been included merely to demonstrate that NPR will not allow praise for a leftist to go unaccompanied by conservative contempt.

Needless to say, it is not the case that NPR has a consistent principle that all its obituaries be thus “balanced.” Take its coverage of the death of William F. Buckley, a figure as admired by the right as much as Zinn was on the left. Upon his death in February 2008, NPR aired six segments commemorating him, none of which included a non-admiring guest.

NewsHounds notes the media in general seems happy to run stories of James O’Keefe, currently on probation from a conviction for his phone pranking stunt in a Senator’s office, Who Cares If James O’Keefe Is A Lying Creep With A Criminal History? He Hates ACORN And NPR, So What’s Not To Like If You’re Fox News?

What a coincidence that just as the House has voted to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including PBS and NPR and the Senate will soon vote on it, undercover ACORN “pimp” James O’Keefe shows up with a new sting video targeting NPR. Since the ACORN sting, O’Keefe has been arrested for allegedly trying to tamper with the phones of a U.S. Senator, the credibility of the ACORN videos have been seriously called into question and O’Keefe reportedly planned to seduce and humiliate a female CNN reporter. But there was almost no mention of O’Keefe’s unsavory past and no questioning of the integrity of O’Keefe’s latest project – even though Media Matters has already caught one suspicious bit of editing that Fox News either missed or ignored – on either The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity or On The Record, each of which devoted time to the story last night (3/8/11).

One thing to clear up about the Newshounds story – the ACORN/O’Keefe videos were not called into “question” they were a heavily edited hoax. I’ll give Scott Rosenberg the last word on, not the repercussions of another pumped up non-scandal by the Right, but how not to respond to the Right’s tactics of intimidation and smears, Sting culture and NPR’s capitulation to falsehood

But just as the White House dumped Shirley Sherrod the moment Andrew Breitbart’s doctored video of her supposedly damning admission of racism surfaced, NPR’s board chose not only not to fight but to cave in immediately to O’Keefe’s tactics. By not fighting back, NPR has invited an open season on truth, and ushered us into a new age of mistrust.

You should go listen to O’Keefe’s tapes of Ron Schiller’s statements — first, to see that much of what he said is harmless and reasonable, but more important, to ask yourself whether you have any expertise or standing to determine the recording’s authenticity. How can we possibly trust O’Keefe’s reports when the essence of his technique is deception? Who knows how this recording was edited or doctored? Does the phrase “consider the source” mean anything any more?

To repeat the obvious, no one at the event in question was a journalist. Not of what they said was broadcast as news or even opinion. It does seem to show that Schiller is not a wing-nut. In Wingnuttia, it is a crime not to be a wing-nut. How is this not the thinking of every authoritarian movement of the last 100 years.