Friday, January 29, 2010


Why I don’t listen to NPR

by Larry Geller

I do enjoy Wait Wait Don’t Tell me and Splendid Table. It’s down hill after that. I stopped even my occasional listening to Talk of the Nation when they put Juan Williams on it. He was pretty consistent in cutting off guests who looked like they were calling in from the left side of our country and gave air time to right-wing points of view. And then there’s Cokie Roberts…

Perhaps they’ve hit a new low. Howard Zinn passed away the other day. Many local newspapers did not cover this news (they didn’t miss J.D. Salinger’s passing, though). That’s to be expected. But NPR went out of their way to use Zinn’s death to make more points with the right-wing, it seems. The Twittersphere noticed.

I hadn’t heard the program, of course. In such cases, I go off to the FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) website to see if they’ve become agitated about the issue. Sure enough, they have an action alert on the subject of NPR’s unequal treatment of Zinn vs. right-wing deceaseds. It’s longer than a tweet, but very much richer. And I can say that a little birdie sent me.

Sure, people are entitled to differing opinions. NPR can try to be “fair and balanced,” just like Fox News, but unfortunately, they may be doing no better at times. FAIR points out that they didn’t attempt to be balanced when William F. Buckley passed away, for example. In the past, FAIR has also pointed out their dependence on war analysts with ties to the Pentagon or military contractors, among other controversies.

The Internet is a rich enough source of information that I can get my news elsewhere, of course. NPR is competing for my attention in a world where comparable news is but a click away.

Having now read the NPR program transcript, I see FAIR’s point, and also have increased respect for the ability of tweets to spread the word.

FAIR urges those who feel strongly about this to write to the NPR ombudsman. I wasn’t planning to do that, since I am not a regular listener. But heck, I’ll send them this, so they can understand why.


Oh, glad I found your blog and this post (linked from Undernews). Yeah, it was pretty disgusting to hear that "obituary" about Dr Zinn. I made a post on my blog, too.

Thanks for you post. I'll keep reading you now! Cheers, - Jay

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