Tuesday, May 05, 2009

NPR: Not what you think it is

For decades, NPR has represented a supposedly liberal stance in their news reportage, and I have many liberal/progressive friends that listen to, and trust, it as the best source for news on the dial. Any look at their guest lists, however, let alone what those people are saying, will serve as a wake-up call belying that tradition and that reputation. Yesterday we heard yet more evidence of their capitulation to the forces of authoritarian right wing nuttery, during All Things Considered.
Host Alix Spiegel called upon Bryce Lefever to explain why he says the US torture of detainees is a good thing, and Lefever went even further--he said that the military psychologists employed to torture were patriots deserving praise. "I think the media ought to give us a big ol' thank you for our efforts on behalf of America," Lefever says. "There should be some recognition of the effort — the really extreme effort — that we've gone through to help."
That there are some freaks out there that believe this is not news, really. Republicans have been lauding torture in public for years now, from Smirky on down to Joe the Plumber. So why exactly would NPR sanction an interview like this one, given their reputation? The only answer I can come up with is that they are dropping even the pretense of being an objective news organization (which is itself a liberal construct) in favor of propagating right wing views at public expense. At no point during the interview, apparently, did Spiegel challenge or question Lefever's points, or qualifications, or even engage in any kind of dialogue whatsoever. This kind of stenography is the hallmark of right wing media as envisioned by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes when they launched Fox News Channel, initiating the final assault on objective news reportage.
NPR still contains wonderful niche programming--I love "Car Talk" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me"--and I'm willing to entertain the idea that there are some personalities on NPR that haven't sold out completely, but I'm afraid anyone listening to NPR for "the news" is, and has been for awhile now, deceived into thinking that they are well-informed from a centrist, much less a liberal, perspective. That the people hosting and guesting on most of the news shows seem sane and measured in tone merely reinforces what nickname watchful leftists and progressives use for it: Nice Polite Republicans.

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Anonymous Doctorb said...

Lefever comes across as a frightening sociopath; I don't think any reasonable person listening would think "hey, this guy's right!" He basically sets up this "ethical system" in which the (nebulously defined) ends justify any means, then tells the audience to shut up. The absurdity and wickedness of his statements are self-evident and require no comment from Alix Spiegel.

2:18 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

Because all the other frightening sociopaths have been ignored over the last 8 years? That doesn't ring so true to me. In fact, what he did (as you note), i.e., set up an immoral ethical system "in which the ends justify any means, then [tell] the audience to shut up" is exactly what Republicans have been doing/selling this whole time. Successfully, I might add, until at least 2006. Challenging these clowns, or at the very least, commenting on their "absurdity and wickedness" is precisely what has been required from the media, and precisely what hasn't been happening. The only thing I see that is self-evident is that NPR is soliciting and promoting his brand of craziness, and there is no real-world evidence to the contrary.

9:50 AM  

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