Monday, May 23, 2005


NPR's original mission statement in 1970... called for "some hard news, every desire to serve an alternative audience: "urban areas with sizeable nonwhite audiences," "student groups studying ecology," "groups with distinct lifestyles and interests not now served by electronic media."

The first broadcast of All Things Considered led with the segment about the protest rally, followed by a zesty array of stories: a roundtable discussion with reporters from the Christian Science Monitor, which segu├ęd into a reading of two antiwar poems from the era of World War I; a dispatch from a barber shop in Iowa whose proprietor was reeling from lost income as more men chose to wear their hair long; a portrait of a nurse turned heroin addict; and, finally, a discussion between Allen Ginsberg and his father, Louis, about the merits and shortcomings of drug abuse...

And now:

On the weekend of March 19, 2005, [the day of demonstrations marking] the second anniversary of the Iraq War... NPR's programming choices that weekend [were]: "a 'patriotic,' feel-good West Point piece; sports fans' feelings toward a baseball player (yes, steroids); more feel-good filler about an Iraqi-American painter and her use of color; Bantu Refugees Adjust to New Lives in America. Quote from the story: 'we give the government of America the high five'; Army Chefs Battle for Best-Dish Honors; a singing physics professor."

In October 2002 political correspondent Mara Liasson, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, assailed two Democratic Congressmen for traveling to Iraq. "These guys are a disgrace," she said. "Look, everybody knows it's...Politics 101 that you don't go to an adversary country, an enemy country, and badmouth the United States, its policies and the President of the United States. I mean, these guys ought to, I don't know, resign." In the same vein, Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon -- who was an antiwar activist at the University of Chicago in the Vietnam era -- wrote a swaggering essay for the Wall Street Journal editorial page on October 11, 2001, titled "Even Pacifists Must Support This War," and, in a March 2003 speech in Seattle, he reportedly expressed support for the US invasion of Iraq...

Excerpts from Scott Sherman's account of NPR's sad road from alternative media to "respectibility" in Good, Gray NPR

2:43 PM
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