Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Drive-(A)Way Moments!": The Unbearable Righti-ness of NPR

As a listener for virtually the whole existence of NPR, I am one among many who has noticed, bemoaned, and railed against its transformation from a reliably skeptical, even-handed forum for competing ideas into one of those Corporate/State Media about which the epigram on my blog is concerned.

Who else remembers when Michael Harrington, leader of the DSPA, could be heard as regularly as Red Barber? I remember feeling a distinct sense of relief when searching the dial in a strange town, I'd hear those distinctive audio tones announcing I'd found the local outlet, signifying that this--e.g., Wichita Falls, Tx; Moline, Il; Fresno, Ca-- wasn't the benighted, collapsing outpost of civilization that it might have at first sight appeared to be, and that there might indeed be kindred spirits to be found in the flaps and folds of the enveloping community. If there was an NPR station somewhere near-by, you could probably live there. That was my theory at the time, anyway.

Now, the national news director, Robert Siegel, actually forbids interviews with or even the mention of Noam Chomsky. Sponsorship shapes the content and presentation, and they don't even bother to disguise it. And the organization has become increasingly dishonest about the outside affiliations of its 'correspondents.' That other universe in which Juan Williams is Bill O'Reilly's token/flunky/toady/stooge on Murdoch's festering, feculent Fox News is never discussed by the news-readers who introduce "Wan" Williams as an NPR" Senior Political Analyst." Others are equally compromised: Juan Forero, from Colombia, is one whose affiliations with the elites is indisputable; Julie Rovner is an employee of Kaiser HealthNewsNerwork, the propaganda arm of Kaiser Health; Cokie Roberts is so corrupted by her Villager "cred" that she became a self-parody a decade ago. Mara Liasson once directed a right-wing women's group while covering the Kerry campaign. NPR has apparently adopted the convenient fiction that the "center" is not an "ideology."

All this as introduction to the piece quoted, in its entirety below, from the blog Oxdown Gazette, to which I was directed this morning by the NPRCheck blog of which I am a devotee, and in the comments--in which I also frequently participate--where I found the link. If you, as I, have reached your limit with NPR ("Remember: You Can't Spell "REPUBLICAN" Without It!"), the following essay should be a tonic:
The Unbearable Lightness of NPR
By: rosalind Saturday June 13, 2009 1:05 pm

NPR announced today that in a cost-cutting move they have replaced their news writers with a computer program that uses a simple formula to generate stories:

Liberal Subject A derided by NPR Talking Heads B + C x Rightwing Talking Point D = False Equivalency of the Day

The key to the program's success is its use of non-specific subjects and sourcing. As an example, today's story "Rhetoric Surrounds Holocaust Memorial Shooting" - read by host Scott Simon and NPR news analyst & Fox News bon vivant Juan Williams - features such subjects as:

"left-wing blogs"
"right-wing blogs"
"the media"

With no specific names or actual quotes necessary for back-up, this program has universal applications towards the whole broadcasting spectrum.

There are bugs to be worked out, as exemplified by Mr. Williams consigning "lots of anger at immigrants" to the left-wing blogs and his citation of the hereto unknown "first amendment rights to criticize". Company officials have not yet determined if this is a programming code error or a simple syntax problem, but are leaning towards the latter.

When it was pointed out that Mr. Williams' closing cites actual facts from the Southern Poverty Law Center that contradict his earlier rhetoric in the piece, NPR officials smiled and proclaimed this a feature not a bug.

To demonstrate the program's amazing timesaving ability, technicians fed in random word clouds from today's wires and produced next Saturday's Weekend Edition Top Story: "Obama Nicotine Cravings Cited in Increased Iranian Unrest".

Note: Rumors that the NPR server housing this new computer program is shared by the NRSC were not confirmed by presstime. However the date atop the NPR press release of "June 13, 1009" and the fact the release itself was released on stone tablet supports the need for further inquiry into the matter.

(File Under: Snark)
Hammer? Meet "Nail."

1 comment:

Liberality said...

I can not listen to NPR anymore without screaming so I don't. Nor do I give them any of my money--something I used to do. I don't like propaganda or advertising (same thing, yes?). I found the blog NPR Check about midway through my disillusionment with NPR and the blog helped ween me from my addiction to the radio station. Yes, I used to listen to them all the time.