For some reason, the myth persists: NPR is nothing but a bunch of tree-hugging union activists, hell-bent on forcing their socialist ways on the world using tax-payer dollars. Millions of gullible lefties continue to support NPR’s fund drives in a presumed conviction that it somehow balances out Fox News and helps to ensure an “alternate” viewpoint.
And yet, all they seem to get for their hard-earned dollars is brilliant bullshit like Cokie Roberts claiming that Hawaii is a suspiciously exotic place for Barack Obama to go on vacation, endless corporate-friendly soft-porn and the occasional mainstream Democrat, who is then immediately rebutted by at least a dozen invited and unchallenged Republicans.
In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, I was deeply involved with an effort to get Vermont Public Radio to add Democracy Now! to its schedule. In spite of overwhelming popular support for the idea, we were roundly dismissed and ridiculed by VPRs board — DN! was just too far out there, too weird, too challenging to their comfortable little cocoon of self-righteous mainstream blather. Mind you, this was at a time when NPR was busy cheerleading for the pending invasion, bending over backwards in order not to challenge the conventional wisdom as presented by the Bush Administration, actively avoiding anything resembling investigative journalism, so perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that they were reluctant to add a little truthiness to their plateful of hyper-patriotic cheerleading coated with the regurgitations of pseudo-intellectuals like Thomas Friedman to make it seem like in-depth coverage.
But evidently NPR is still so busy proving to a world that really, honestly doesn’t give a shit that it isn’t as liberal as the wingnuts think, while still trying to convince the liberals that it represents some sort of sensible, sane alternative to Fox and Clear Channel.
Alas, whenever they run into anything more controversial than, say, the weather, NPRs crack squad of highly paid pundits and reporters seem to step in it with gusto. Viz. the latest gem: the passing of Howard Zinn. Now, given that he was a historian with the courage to take a different look on things, always thinking outside the box, going the extra mile to see things from more than one side, true to his convictions, never shy to speak his mind, it is perhaps not so hard to understand why the morons at NPR would have no clue how to deal with his death. But their treatment of him was classic NPR: “hey, I know: why don’t we get David Horowitz, renowned right-wing bullshit artist who is wrong about things more often than even William Kristol, to spend a few minutes of our air time slandering the memory of a man whose boots he’s not worthy to kiss? That’d make for some awesome radio.”
And so, in closing: I’m still not going to support my local “public” radio station — because it doesn’t offer me anything I couldn’t get for free simply by banging my head against a wall and slashing my wrists with sharp objects.